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A fresh take on folk from multi-talented, passionate Se‡n îg

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Date Published: {J}

Seán Óg Hogan, a Galway based musician,originally hailing from Wicklow, bills himself as being in the folk/acoustic/folk rock tradition of singer/songwriters. This talented musician has taken an unusual approach to releasing his songs and will be bringing out a single every month for the next few months, in advance of his forthcoming album, which arrives in the autumn.

Music has been a part of Seán’s life from a very young age.

“My mother is a very accomplished opera singer – I was brought up listening to her singing,” he says. “From the age of eight or 10 I was playing percussion, bodhrán and djembe. I studied it with a very nice percussionist in Wicklow.

“My dad was an All-Ireland champion banjo player,” he adds. “I’ve grown up listening to traditional music – my granddad was a box player.”

Seán may have grown up playing a variety of instruments but his choice to focus on guitar came relatively late in his musical development.

“I was about 18 before I started to develop an interest in the guitar,” he recalls. “I was too lazy to learn – I just wanted to bang something as child!”

Seán has also studied drama and performance and also trained a baritone under Tony Norton – on of the three Irish Tenors. Yet music triumphed over acting for Seán’s affections.

“I was studying for a couple of years – that’s where I initially met Tony Norton,” he says. “I did some operettas and some acting work. I just found the acting a bit too superficial – not that the music industry is much better! But at least I’m being true to myself.”

Moving West has also proved instrumental in Seán finding his voice.

“I was playing as a percussionist in bands for about six years, on and off,” he says. “I played full time in band called Shine, around Dublin and Wicklow. I came to Galway two years ago just to work on the original songs. It’s all I want to do at the minute.”

Seán Óg does has continued to make use of his drama training, however. He has worked on The Tudors and recently featured in a Fáilte Ireland ad campaign.

“Doing the acting has given me a chance to appreciate how much I love playing music – in a huge way. And it’s totally upped my game as a performer.”

This is indeed the case – Seán has recently from a nine-month European tour as a member of the Gael Force dance show. A performance in a large arena in Switzerland was particularly demanding.

“It was a venue for about 3,000 people,” he says. “It was a high energy venue; people like Moby and U2 play there. You feel that energy when you walk in the place. If I didn’t study drama and performance arts I don’t think I’d be able to express myself on stages like that.”

Returning to his own music, Seán Óg explains why he’s taking the bold, unusual step of releasing a single every month.

“I want to do the songs on the album justice,” he says. “I want to generate enough energy around each song. I believe a month of PR for each song is just, because I believe the songs merit it. My aim is to generate enough attention around each single so I can get a good manager – not someone who says they’re going to do stuff.”

The first of Seán Óg’s singles is Rise High King Rise, a song that revives the folk tradition of dealing with the concerns of modern society.

“I believe Ireland at the minute is covered in red tape and down with energy because of this recession,” Seán says. “So many people are unemployed. My message to anyone who hears my song is to rise up and not let negativity bring us down, as a country and as individuals. I think we have a lot more to give artistically and creatively. I think the Celtic Tiger has made us lose sight of that.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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

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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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