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Celebrating Matt’s mark on world of Irish music

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Headford musician Matt Cunningham.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

The life and work of Headford accordion player Matt Cunningham will be celebrated in two television documentaries being broadcast this Christmas.

The programmes – one on TG4, the other on Irish Television – mark Matt’s 50th anniversary as a performer and his work teaching music for the past three decades.

Earlier this year, Matt’s achievements were celebrated with a weekend of music, song and dance in Headford – and the TV crews were on hand to record this.

In addition, the crews spent time with Matt at home on his farm at Mausrevagh, as he recalled growing up in a musical household and developing a career in the business.

Now in his late 60s, Matt spent his early years as a performer on the cabaret circuit, playing in venues such as the Poitín Still in Inverin where he supported the likes of Planxty and the Wolfe Tones.

He and his band also performed for dances, and when they began to specialise in céilí and set dancing, they found their niche.

Through the decades Matt became renowned as a dance musician and his influence extended far beyond Ireland, thanks to recordings that he made with dancers in mind.

Until then, teachers of Irish dance in America and the UK had to contend with short recordings, which made teaching difficult. Matt Cunningham’s longer recordings made their work a whole lot easier and these were later used in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. Later, he made video recordings, which have also been used worldwide.

“He had a huge influence on the dissemination of set and céilí dancing overseas through his recordings,” says his son, Eric, a professional musician and the driving force behind the events to celebrate Matt’s musical achievements.

The idea for the celebration began when Matt and Eric were driving home from Dublin where they had been paying a farewell visit to a musician friend of Matt’s who was dying. On the journey west Matt started telling Eric about the many people he had worked with over the years. Eric realised that his father would be marking his golden anniversary as a musician in 2015 and decided something should be done to recognise his father’s achievements.

In addition to organising the Headford weekend, which celebrated Matt’s work as a performer and a teacher, Eric also spoke to contacts in TG4 and Irish TV and both organisations came on board.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Success for Galway at Book Awards event

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The award for the An Post Short Story of the Year, sponsored by writing.ie, went to Deirdre Sullivan for Little Lives.

Galway shone at the 2021 An Post Irish Book Awards, held virtually on Tuesday night and broadcast on the RTÉ website.

The Irish Language Book of the Year award was won by an Spidéal writer Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin for Madame Lazare, while Kennys in Galway City won the inaugural Best Bookshop Award and Deirdre Sullivan from Knocknacarra in the city, won Short Story of the Year for Little Lives.

This annual ceremony has been running since 2006 and is the country’s biggest literary awards event, with 20 prizes across 20 categories.

The new bookshop award was introduced to acknowledge the role played by bookshops countrywide in helping local communities to find the books they wanted during Covid-19. Kennys celebrated the win by offering their online subscribers an extra 10 per cent off all titles for a 24-hour period.

There were celebrations too in an Spidéal, where Barzazz, the new company that published Madame Lazare, is based.

It’s an imprint of Futa Fata, the successful Irish-language publisher specialising in children’s books that was established in the early 2000s. Barzazz was launched just this summer to publish contemporary fiction, poetry and translations for adults in Irish, and Madame Lazare was its first book – it’s also the debut novel from screenwriter, children’s author and songwriter, Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin.

A novel about secrets and truths, it follows the life of the mysterious Hana Lazare, with the action moving backwards and forwards in time between the Irish-speaking West of Ireland of the 1930s, to a devout Jewish community in 1990s Paris, to present day Brussels.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

From The Milking Parlour Bar to Town Hall Theatre

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Town Hall Theatre, Galway

Galway’s Whileaways will be in concert in the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday, December 11, as they celebrate the release of their single The Milking Parlour Bar, a song that celebrates friendship and the magic of music shared.

It showcases a new, fresh sound from The Whileaways while still featuring their trademark rich vocal harmonies. That’s a taste of what’s to come from their new album, In All Honesty, due for release in Spring.

The Whileaways are singers Noelie McDonnell, Noriana Kennedy and Nicola Joyce, who first got to know each other on Galway’s session circuit in 2012. Since joining forces, they have released three critically acclaimed albums, toured the world, and been nominated for Best Group and Best Album in the RTÉ Folk Awards.

In 2019, the group embarked on a new proect, teaming up with Kerry singer, Pauline Scanlon for Bird On The Wire, a celebration of Leonard Cohen, featuring a ten-piece band, which has now been revived.

This new single, The Milking Parlour Bar has its roots in recent Covid experiences, as Noelie explains.

“We’ve all missed things we previously took for granted – singing together, playing together, dancing together, even just being together.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Local publisher extends invite to Open Evening

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Marguerite Tonery....Tribes Press.

Local publishing company, Tribes Press, is hosting an online Open Evening with several of its authors next Wednesday night, December 1, starting at 7pm.

Anyone who’s interested in book-related topics is invited to link up with the group’s authors.

Tribes’ founder Marguerite Tonery describes the occasion as “an incredible opportunity to ask questions about writing and publishing. But not only that, it is an opportunity to get to know your favourite Irish author a little better”.

Authors from a range of genres are taking part in this free event. They include Marguerite, whose books include the Kapheus fantasy adventure series and Covid Monster’s Visit.

James L Keogh, author of Little Kitten, Geraldine Renton (Ethan and Me), Jack Walsh (Jingles’ Christmas Adventure), Maria Breen-Fahy (Silly Sammy) and Lynn Maloney (A Fairy Wonderland of Rhymes) are also taking part, as is Kevin Lawlor, author of A Guide to Starting Business the Irish Way and Grace Alice O’Shea, whose book Sex Educated promises to answer all the questions that young people ask about sex – including consent, body image, relationships, pornography and reproduction.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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