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Bell X1 all fired up as they return for Galway gig



Date Published: {J}

Bell X1 return to Galway this Saturday, December 3, following their success at this year’s Galway Arts Festival when they sold out the Big Top.

And they have been busy since then as front man Paul Noonan explains from Atlanta – Bell X1 are currently on a US tour.

“We were here in June, so we’re hitting a few places we hadn’t been back then,” he says. “We’ve just been to Austin and we’re here now in Atlanta; we’re going to Nashville next.”

The trip across the Atlantic is due to the success of Bell X1’s past two albums, Flock and Blue Lights on the Runway. They have appeared on prime time chat shows hosted by Conan O’Brien and David Letterman. For Noonan, touring the US is the stuff of rock and roll fantasy.

“Since we started making music, it’s what we wanted to do, get out here and get on a bus. Travel coast to coast; there’s a sort of romance to it, that being in a band you sort of dream of doing. So when it finally happened we really went for it.”

Earlier this year, Bell X1 released Bloodless Coup. That album saw the band veer into more electronic territory, while still maintaining their knack for writing hooks.

“It’s a funny one,” says Paul. “It’s probably our most electro-sounding record but it was the most organically recorded. In the sense that we went and rehearsed and rehearsed, as a five-piece band, until we felt that we were ready, and then went and recorded it in a proper studio – quickly.

“Initially, when I wrote the songs I would’ve been on a laptop, using a lot of that stuff with view to maybe replacing some of it later on,” he adds. “But it just never happened! And it seemed to fit.”

Although Noonan’s voice makes it easy to pick out a new Bell X1 tune on the radio, every album sees the band tinker with their sound. Given their popularity, this is a risky manoeuvre – but they don’t seem like a band who subscribe to the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ philosophy.

“There’s always a desire for a little of the unexpected,” says Paul. “I suppose what we find that what does it for us in the studio is to take songs that are fairly traditionally written and then dress them in ways that we’d never really used before.”

For a band who like to throw something new into the mix, Bell X1 must get very tempted when they hit the road. Many musicians return from jaunts in the States with new toys.

“We had to stop that!” laughs Paul. “We’ve done a lot of that in the past and you end up dragging all sorts of s**t home. You get stung for it at the airport!

“We were in Vicksburg, Mississippi, yesterday. These places that you’d never get to unless you were passing through and often they’ll have little music shops with weird and wonderful stuff, like an old banjo that has lived.”

For the making of Bloodless Coup Bell X1 spent some time in London’s Abbey Road studios. Though they had just trod the same hallowed ground as The Beatles, they found themselves brought back to earth by inclement weather.

“It was that mad period just before Christmas last year,” recalls Paul. “We ended with thousands of others a lot worse off, like families. Sleeping on the floor at Gatwick – it’s a great leveller!”

In the past, studio trickery has made it challenging for Bell X1 to bring certain elements of their songs to a concert setting. But the way Bloodless Coup was recorded made it an easier record to bring to the stage.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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

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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