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BellXI go back to basics to promote new acoustic album



Date Published: 31-Oct-2012

Bell X1 play a stripped-down show in the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday, November 10. The concert is part of a tour to celebrate the release of their live, acoustic album, Field Recordings. The double CD sees Paul Noonan, David Geraghty and Dominic Philips work their way through 21 songs from Bell X1’s back catalogue.

“It’s been a few years gestating,” says leadsinger Paul Noonan.

“[Playing live acoustic shows] was something we did before recording Blue Lights On The Runway when we had the bunch of songs. Before going into the studio, we wanted to play them in front of humans! There’s no substitute for that.”

“We went back and re-worked some of the older stuff, bringing the songs back to how they were born in a lot of cases,” he adds. “It was just really refreshing to tour in that simple way. The next time, before recording Bloodless Coup, we did the same thing but extended the tour throughout North American and Europe.”

Field Recordings also comes with a series of photographs taken on tour by Phil Hayes, who’s an integral part of the Bell X1 set-up.

“He’s been with us pretty much since the start, as the front of house

engineer,” says Paul. “He’s always taken a lot of photographs on the road as well, and we finally got to make a photo book as well – that was another satisfying part of this.”

“It’s just that he’s a great friend, and he’s a great presence to have on the road. And a great calming influence on the whole thing, sometimes. He’s very level-headed fella that never lets any stressful situation show or get to him. All of us have a lot of confidence in him.”


The songs that make up Field Recordings were recorded in rooms of different shapes and sizes across Ireland, Europe and the US. How does Phil cope with the challenges presented by each venue?

“He’s a boffin!” laughs Paul. “He has his own very beautifully-padded case that travel everywhere with him, that has his microphone collection in it. He’s like a doctor arriving at the gig, where he’d carefully unsheathe them and clip them on to the stands. You’d often see the house crew at a venue marvelling at the microphones, they’d get into very deep technical discussions on the merits of a microphone.”

One venue in particular stuck out for Paul.

“There’s a place in Berlin called Gruner Salon, which is part of a bigger theatre,” he says. “But this little place was apparently where the Nazi high command would be entertained in the ’30s. It’s a beautifully ornate room, you can imagine the boys all sitting around tables, smoking fags with all the girls in their tassles flitting among them. It has that air of decadent, 1930s Berlin.”

Bell X1 are one of the most consistently popular band on the Irish circuit, but their loyal fanbase may well be surprised with how some of their favourites sound.

The full, plugged-in Bell X1 show sees six people take to the stage. But on their last US tour, the three core members went on a road-trip, divvying the driving between them.

“It’s part of the pleasure of it really,” says Paul. “The past couple of States we’ve done in the US, we’ve been on the tour bus, with a truck. You get lost in the production end of it sometimes. But the last time we were in the States, and this time again, we were in a little white van.

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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