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Summer’s gone – but not forgotten by the Saw Doctors



Date Published: 24-May-2012

 sHE may not have counted among her great regrets, but Donna Summer once ignored me in a corridor at the BBC. I wasn’t alone as it turned out – she completely blanked the Saw Doctors as well and they were higher than her in the UK charts at the time.

And after her untimely death last week from cancer – days before her fellow eighties icon Robin Gibb lost his own battle with the disease – memories of a close encounter with the Queen of Disco came flooding back.

The venue was the Top of the pops studios in Elstree outside London back at the end 1994 – so long ago that Anthony Thistletwaite still had hair – and Davy and the lads were well inside the top twenty with Small Bit of Love while Donna was in the midst of a re-invention after the dive of the disco era.

It possibly wasn’t a career defining moment for Ms Summer – Melody of Love (Wanna Be Loved) peaked at 21 in the UK charts although it did feature on her greatest hits compilation, Endless Summer, and a remix topped the US dance charts.

But she was a legend – albeit from an earlier era – and her presence dictated an increased security presence around the studios; perhaps we played some small part in that security risk.

Although it must be said that we didn’t have a clue who she was either – just a tiny woman with massive hair and even bigger bodyguards to make sure she wasn’t bothered by Galway fellows on her way from her rehearsal to the dressing room.

That may have had something to do with a spectacular night in Bradford the night before where a bloke called Ian Purdham who – after having his three favourite songs by the band tally with Davy’s – won a prize to have the Docs start their UK tour in his sitting room.

And in fairness to Donna, we were equally ignored by Jimmy Nail, the Beautiful South and M People although presenter Bruno Brooks seemed friendly – and hospitality was, if anything, overly generous.

As usual I was an interloper, doing a piece on the start of the tour and the lads being on Top of the Pops but a group of us actually ended up on stage, lepping around in the background like Riverdancers on acid….battery acid.

It had been a late night on the tour bus – my only time on a band’s tour bus as well – after that gig in the heart of a Council estate in Bradford which followed on from an early short set in a school in Huddersfield were Ian the prize winner was a teacher. And, also perhaps the only white person in the school and without doubt the only one who’d heard of the Saw Doctors.

Still, a free class is a free class and the students gathered in the assembly hall for a concert that was to trigger a memorable day – because by that evening Ian’s entire estate was out to meet the bus as it did its impression of a camel winding its way through the eye of a needle along the narrow cul de sac.

To say this was a tough part of town might be an understatement but as so often with such areas, the people had hearts of gold. They certainly had fridges full of Dutch Gold or whatever the lager of the day was because we had cans thrust into our fists with a speed that suggested they were anxious to get rid of the evidence before they were rumbled.

For more see this week’s Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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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Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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