Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

Celebrating Austria’s love of Irish music – and it all began in Galway



Date Published: {J}

When you think of countries where traditional Irish music is hugely popular, Austria wouldn’t immediately spring to mind.

But for almost two decades some of Ireland’s top trad touring acts, many from Galway, have been finding appreciative audiences in Austria for Irish music and song. Some 50 of these performers gathered together at Leap Castle in Offaly recently, to mark the launch of The Celtic Connections 2 CD, celebrating the friendship between Ireland, Austria and more recently, Austria and Scotland.

The Austrian/Irish friendship began when Austrian music promoter Dietmar Haslinger, first heard Galway singer Seán Keane.

“I wasn’t into Irish music – I had a few albums but I didn’t know anything about the history of Ireland,” Dietmar recalls.

In the mid 1990s, a friend sent him a tape of There were Roses, from Seán’s debut solo album, All Heart, No Roses. Written by Tommy Sands, the powerful song tells the story of how the conflict in Northern Ireland impacted on ordinary families and the destruction it wrought.

“I played it for a day – I was hooked by Sean’s voice,” says Dietmar.

As a result, he was involved in organising Sean’s debut visit to Austria, to play a festival in St Pölten. Their meeting marked the start of a strong friendship as well as professional relationship.

Dietmar scheduled a Christmas tour of Austria for which Sean was the headline act. It became an annual event, with Seán being accompanied by different musical guests from Ireland every year. The female quartet Dordán was among the earliest of these, recalls Dietmar.

“They and Sean introduced me to other musicians and the word spread,” he adds.

Other acts down the years have included the Bumblebees, Lúnasa, Máirtín O’Connor, Alec Finn, Alan Kelly, Johnny Óg Connolly and his father, Sean Johnny, Charlie Lennon, Eleanor Shanley, Marcus and PJ Hernon, Paddy Keenan, Seán Ryan, Jackie Daly, the late Micheál Ó Domhnaill, Cathal Hayden, Cora and Breda Smyth, Fergus Feeley . . . the list goes on.

Eventually Seán Keane moved on from the Christmas festival, and now plays a solo tour of Austria annually. But the Christmas tour continues, with other musicians, and Dietmar also runs other events throughout the year. The Celtic Spring Connection and The Celtic Summer Night feature Irish and Scottish acts, and the Scottish Festival Night focuses on Scottish performers.

The Scottish aspect evolved when musicians in that country contacted Dietmar on foot of the Irish success.

Dietmar credits dance shows like Riverdance as helping to build an audience for Irish music in Austria, explaining that the show was a massive success when it visited Vienna.

But it would be impossible to underestimate his role in promoting Irish acts. All his shows are sit-down events, and while the various venues do have bars, no drink is sold during the concerts.

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

Continue Reading

Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads