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Andrew Lloyd Webber’s praise for Fiona’s new London musical



Date Published: 15-Apr-2013

 By Órla Ryan

A musical written by a former NUI Galway student has caught the attention of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Fiona O’Malley from Presentation Road, who now lives and works in London, was inspired to write The Daily Fail: The Musical! following the phone hacking scandal in the UK and subsequent Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

The play, which will be staged in London in July, follows two girls – London and Dim – who are desperate to become celebrities, but discover fame is not all it’s cracked up to be when their Fairy Godmother, aka Rupert Murdoch, grants their wish.

Although the play examines how the press “can destroy a person”, Fiona drew on her own experiences as a journalist – she has worked for the Connacht Tribune group (and currently pens the weekly Style column in the Connacht Sentinel), The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Irish Times among others – to show both sides of the argument.

The musical was written from October to December 2012 and will feature 19 songs over two and a half hours. It will be produced by the Untold Theatre Company – a group co-founded by Fiona and the show’s director Adam Wollerton just four months ago.

Mr Lloyd Webber’s theatre production company The Really Useful Group has praised the show’s originality and pledged some financial support.

Despite this, more funding is necessary and the production team has launched a crowd-funding campaign online. Their goal is to raise £2,000 before May 11 – so far this figure stands at just over £700. There is one catch, however – if the financial target is not met, none of the money can be used.

Fiona is encouraging people to give whatever they can to support the project as even £1 can make a “huge difference”. In return, donors will receive prizes including posters, tickets to the musical and a chance to meet the cast and crew – who are not being paid.

The production team was a bit worried about including a Rupert Murdoch character, but Fiona says they received clearance from lawyers at their mentor group, Creative Youth. In any case, she thinks “a lot worse has been said about him”.

The musical also features ‘Hugh Grant’ and the producers have been in touch with actor’s agents, who said they like the idea.

The team has also received positive feedback from Hacked Off, a campaign calling for a public inquiry into the phone hacking scandal. Fiona hopes representatives of the initiative will attend one of the shows.

The musical will appear at The International Youth Arts Festival in London from July 25-28. If enough money is raised by the producers, the plan is to bring the show to a number of theatres – with the eventual goal being a West End stage in 2014/15. The rehearsals began in late January and are “going really well”.

For more information on the musical or to help support the fundraising project, visit and search The Daily Fail: The Musical!

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel

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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