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Clifden Arts Festival presents range of events to entertain audiences of all ages

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

In the times we are going through, the arts seem to be the door to go through,” according to Clifden Arts Festival’s Director, Brendan Flynn as he prepares for the 34th annual festival, which runs from Thursday, September 15 to Sunday, September 25.

Highlights of the event include a multi-media tribute to the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, entitled Nearest the South Pole; concerts from Cherish the Ladies, Cór Chúil Aodha, and Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, and comedy from Republic of Telly’s Dead Cat Bounce.

The programme for Clifden’s festival was launched in the town’s The Station House Hotel on Monday night by poet Michael Cody and “has a good cross section”, says Brendan, adding that the educational aspect, where artists visit local schools, continues to be central.

The literary programme includes readings from Presidential candidate, Michael D Higgins and Ireland Professor of Poetry, Harry Clifton with Leanne O’Sullivan.

Poets Dermot Healy, Tom Paulin Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Louis de Paor are also taking part, as are Eiléan Ní Chuilleanán and Macdara Woods, who as husband and wife, are great pioneers for modern Irish poetry.

Playwright and novelist Thomas Kilroy will read from his work on September 17 at 4.15pm in the Station House, while Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year and local Clifden woman, Siobhán Mannion will read on September 22 at 6pm in the Station House Hotel.

Allegra Huston, whose memoir, Love Child: A Memoir of a Family Lost and Found, was published in 2009, will read at 4.15 in the Alcock and Brown Hotel on September 22. Raised by film maker John Huston as his daughter after the death of his estranged wife, Ricki Soma, when Allegra was four, she subsequently found out that her real father was the English-born aristocrat John Julius Norwich.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra make a welcome return to Clifden for concert with fiddle player Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill. That’s on September 16 in St Joseph’s Church at 8pm.

Meanwhile, the RTÉ Vanburgh Quartet, one of Europe’s most successful string quartets, will visit fresh from their recent 25th anniversary celebrations. They play on September 22 at 8pm in the Church of Ireland. Another major attraction to the Clifden Arts Festival this year is The Alan Kelly Gang who will perform with Scottish singer Eddi Reader, previously of Fairground Attraction. They play on September 19 at 10pm in the Station House Theatre.

Pianist John O’Conor also returns, playing on September 23, as do the formidable Cherish the Ladies who are mostly based in America, where they are recognised as one of the most engaging ensembles in the history of Irish music. Featuring Claddaghduff’s Mirella Murray on accordion, they play on September 20 in the West Connemara Leisure Centre at 8.30pm.

The festival will also welcome Cork’s renowned Cór Chúil Aodha choir with Peadar Ó Riada, who are on their first visit to Clifden Arts Festival.They play on September 24 at 9pm in Clifden’s Church of Ireland.

The sensational 13-year-old Andreas Varady who has been playing the guitar since he was four years old will lend a touch of jazz to the event on Tuesday, September 20 at 10pm in Griffin’s Bar.

There is also a strong traditional and sean-nós programme featuring Breanndán Begley, Tommy Peoples and Laoise Kelly, along with sean-nós group The Listeners.

Like every other year, schools in and around Clifden are at the heart of the Community Arts Festival, where the vision was nurtured and became a reality. From Monday, September 19 to Friday, September 23 the schools will play host to a number of different events which will help to educate and encourage students to appreciate the arts.

 

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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