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Singer Tommy Fleming returns to Galway

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Date Published: {J}

Sligo singer Tommy Fleming will give a concert in Leisureland on February 20 as part of a nationwide tour which has seen him sell out venues such as Belfast’s Ulster Hall, the National Concert Hall in Dublin and Portlaoise’s Heritage Hotel.

The tour follows the release of his latest album, Song for a Winter’s Night in December.

Tommy, who is one of Ireland’s biggest selling solo artists, has built up a hugely successful career at home and abroad since he first caught the ear of singer-songwriter Phil Coulter in the early 1990s, while playing with a local band. Shortly afterwards Coulter invited him to become a guest singer on the Derry man’s tours, which he did, taking in venues from the Cork Opera House to Carnegie Hall.

Tommy then spent three years with Galway based trad group de Dannan before leaving to pursue a solo career. His first solo album, Different Side of Life was released in 1996, followed by Restless Spirit on the Dara label in 1998. Despite a huge set back when he broke his neck in a car crash that same year Tommy has enjoyed great success since then.

A year after the accident he started working on The Contender, which saw him focus on songs by Irish writers, But, he wasn’t content to be slotted into one genre and followed on with Sand and Water, featuring work from such varied talents as Tom Waits, Dan Fogelberg, Callum McCall and John Hurley.

Tommy is famous for his own arrangements of Danny Boy, Isle of Innisfree and Hard Times. He also covers songs from different genres, such as You Raise Me Up to Bridge over Troubled Waters, Summer in Dublin and Something Inside so Strong. Basically, as he says himself, he is interested in focusing on songs “that tell a good story”

He has described singing “as an extension of myself. I sing everywhere, even when I’m not getting paid to sing”.

Tommy’s Voice of Hope album, recorded at Knock Basilica in 2004, was the Number 1 selling CD and Number 2 selling DVD in Ireland during 2005 and 2006. It stayed in the album charts for 26 weeks after its release in October 2005 and re-appeared there in November 2006. This album continues to sell and was Tommy’s most successful release ever.

Last December, the singer returned to the Knock Basilica for a special concert to mark the fifth anniversary of the first staging of this event.

A Journey Home, meanwhile, which was recorded at the INEC, Killarney in 2007 went on to be one of the biggest Irish releases of 2007/08. The DVD was Number 1 for 10 weeks and the CD reached multi-platinum status after a few short weeks of sale. This album and DVD continue to sell all over the world.

Tommy spent much of last year touring other parts of the world, and along with selling 150,000 concert seats in Ireland, he also sold-out a 20 date Australian tour, finishing with a three-night run in Sydney. A return visit and a further tour to Australia are now planned for October.

Meanwhile, Galway fans of the man with the distinctive soaring voice can catch him in Leisureland on February 20.

Tickets for Tommy’s Leisureland show are available from Zhivago, 091-509960 and Ticketmaster outlets.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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