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Tara’s trad with a twist wows the nation



Date Published: 08-Jan-2010

CUSTOMERS of Supervalu in Barna and the Townhouse Bar in the city will remember Tara Burke McDonnell as a shy and unassuming girl – but this weekend they will see her in a whole new light as she stands up in front of tens of thousands of viewers and confidently beats out Will You Go Lassie Go.

The good-looking and polite 24 year old singer is hoping all of Galway will pick up the phone and vote for her this Sunday as she bids to follow in the footsteps of fellow Galwegians, the Mulkerrin Brothers, and win the second series of RTE One’s All-Ireland Talent Show.

A former Taylor’s Hill student, Tara is one of eight contestants plucked from hundreds who auditioned in Connacht who will be mentored by Daithí Ó Shea and represent the West on the popular talent entertainment television series.

Tara was born in London but all through the programme’s several audition stages, which began in NUI, Galway last September, she has proved that her musical pedigree and talent can wow the audience at her first live TV show this weekend.

And she didn’t lick it off the floor – Tara’s mother Ann Burke of Carna, or Nan Tom Teamín as she is known, is a renowned sean-nós singer and two times Corn Uí Ríoda winner, the most prestigious sean nós singing competition.

“I love my dad, but he’s tone deaf,” laughs Tara, as she explains she was surrounded by traditional Irish song and music from her mother’s side of the family as she was growing up.

Many customers of Supervalu in Barna where she used to work and in the Townhouse where she currently works, will attest that Tara is very shy, something she admits herself. But all this week she has been in contact with costume and make-up staff in RTE and is really giddy about the prospect of performing in front of the nation.

“I love singing; it’s very natural to me. I’m always singing and I really love it – I grew up around waltzes and ballads and that sort of music. I was always going to sessions and festivals with my mother when I was 13 or 14 but I was shy. I was very shy but then I went further afield and sang in Australia and America and gradually got confidence, it was very gradual.

“I remember singing at a ball in Boston in front of 300 people, which is the most I’ve ever sang for, so I am nervous about Sunday but I’m just excited and really looking forward to getting up on stage. My mother’s more nervous for me – I don’t know is she going to be able to watch it!”

Tara sums up her style as having a strong sean-nós influence but with a twist. “I put my own spin on it and make it my own,” she says. Tara has already recorded two tracks, Black is the Colour and Noreen Bán, on her mother’s second album The Home I Left Behind.

If she impresses the judges and viewers and qualifies on for the semi-final on Sunday and subsequently goes on the win the competition and keep the title for the west, Tara will record her own record with the €50,000 prize.

“I always wanted to do something like this and this year I just said feck it and applied. My mother came along with me to the auditions and we just made a day of it. I never really thought I’d get through because there were just so many people but I’m delighted I did.

“I’d just love to record my own album and that’s what I’d do with the money if I won although I’d probably have to bring my family on a holiday as well. I’m just going to go up there and do my best and hopefully that’s good enough,” she says.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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