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Collaboration the name of the game for poet, piper and artist

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Date Published: {J}

Anybody who loves books will realise that Connemara’s Cló Iar Chonnacht (CIC) is among the finest publishers in Ireland – if not the finest. But, as a person whose Irish is fairly basic, it’s frustrating to know that the content of these beautifully produced books is normally inaccessible because CIC specialises in Irish language writing.

However, the company’s latest book, Agus Rud Eile De/And Another Thing transcends that difficulty.

This collection of poetry from Louis de Paor has translations by Biddy Jenkinson, Kevin Anderson and Mary O’Donoghue. The book is illustrated by artist Kathleen Furey and includes a CD, featuring 11 of the poems set to original music by piper and composer Ronan Browne.

This version of Agus Rud Eile De is a new approach to a collection that was first published in 2002 and won the Oireachtas Prize for for Best Poetry collection in 2003.

Cork born Louis, who is Director for the Centre for Irish Studies at NUIG, is one of the leading poets writing in Irish today and has won many awards for his work.

However, this collection had been out of print for some time, so when it came to producing a new edition, there was space to do it differently, he says.

Most of the poems were written over a decade ago and this project offered Louis a fresh glimpse of the subjects that preoccupied him then, especially when he read the translations.

“There are lots of fathers throughout the poems; fathers; grandfathers; fathers and sons; fathers and daughters. These poems are written from the position of a man on the verge of middle age who realises that death is neither incidental or accidental.

“It’s also about the fragility of young people from the perspective of middle age and how they don’t realise it.”

The chance to revisit the original opened up opportunities to collaborate with other artists, but the whole thing came together in a way that was even better than Louis had imagined.

Kathleen’s Furey had illustrated the cover of a previous book he’d written and when he saw a painting of hers in the City Museum a while back, he felt it would be ideal for this collection.

The publishers then suggested using more of her images throughout the book. Louis discovered that the images in question were Kathleen’s response to death and loss, which fitted perfectly, “because the poems really deal with these issues”.

The poems are rich in emotion and imagery and it’s great to be able to read them in English and in Irish before listening to the CD. This consists of 11 works from the book with music composed by Ronan Browne, a former member of the Afro Celt Sound System, and an accomplished musician across many genres.

The project came about after Ronan and Louis took part in an Arts in Action concert at NUI Galway last year. They really enjoyed it and when they learned that they lived so close to each other – Louis is in Oughterard, Ronan in Spiddal – they decided to give collaboration a go.

The resulting CD is beautiful, albeit in a ‘weird’ way, to use Louis’s own word.

“I’ve always tried to present poems in a different way, and to integrate them with music” he explains. He did that previously when he was studying and working in Australia, collaborating with Greek, Aboriginal and Irish musicians.

He and Ronan started “bouncing ideas off each other” last summer.

“Ronan is very sympathetic, he has very good Irish and he is sufficiently confident in his own abilities not to feel uncomfortable doing things that people normally wouldn’t expect him to do,” explains Louis, who selected the poems for the CD. He picked those which he remained curious about 10 years after writing them.

“Also the poems for the recording represented certain themes which were strong in the book, so that the story of the book would be represented on the CD.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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