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A dream come true for 13-year-old Donna



Date Published: 24-May-2012

 IT is not every day that a 13-year-old secondary school student gets an opportunity to go into a

recording studio and, eight hours later, comes away with a debut CD with seven of her favourite tracks.

This was like a Jim’ll Fix It scenario for young Donna Higgins from Ballinderry, Corofin who lived the dream of recording her own album – it will be launched in the Corralea Court Hotel in Tuam on Saturday night.

Donna, a Mercy Convent first year student in Tuam, had taken part in the Junior West’s Got Talent competition which was run in Geoghegan’s Nightclub in Tuam.

Having impressed the judges round after round, Donna suddenly found herself in the final. But despite putting up a tremendous performance, she did not win the contest.

While she was disappointed she took consolation in the fact that she had reached the final, having been singing for just the past three years.

But looking on was Martin Geoghegan, owner of Geoghegan’s Nightclub and the local Corralea Court Hotel, who was certainly impressed by what he saw.

After the dust settled on the singing contest, he approached Donna to say that he was willing to pay studio recording time for her and she was whisked away to Sun Street Studios – where The Sawdoctors recorded their first album – and she was like a natural.

It is somewhat ironic that Donna sings two songs that were performed by Cher Lloyd in the 2010 version of The X Factor. On that occasion Cher Lloyd was not a winner either, finishing fourth while Donna was second in her contest and is getting a major break at a very young age.

The new album features songs like Stay and Empire State of Mind which were both performed by Cher Lloyd on X Factor. Donna’s strong voice also allows her to perform Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You and Celine Dion’s theme from Titanic, My Heart Will Go On among others.

Donna started singing three years ago with the Corofin Comhaltas group and has performed with the Abbeyknockmoy Set Dancers but her love of the stage really took hold when she performed in the Black Box in Galway two years ago with her father James Higgins backing her on guitar.

“She performed brilliantly on that occasion”, said her proud dad. “After that, she got a new confidence and even when she went to record the CD, it took just eight hours to record the seven song album which wasn’t bad at all”.

James Higgins has been playing with a local band on the pub circuit and he will be backing his talented daughter on Saturday night while the launch of the new album will be performed by Cllr Eamonn Kitt who is the principal of the primary school in Ballinderry where Donna attended before going on to secondary school.

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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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