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Colm draws from the past and present for his third solo album

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

Q, otherwise known as Dublin based musician Colm Quearney, plays The Crane Bar on Thursday next, April 29, opening for blues player Chaz De Paolo. An in-demand guitarist for major acts like Mundy and Jerry Fish, Colm has just released his third solo album Root To The Fruit. The album was recorded in The Cube studios, a space Colm built himself from scratch.

“It’s in Northstrand in Dublin and it was really built with the purpose for me to have somewhere to record and just get in to production,” he explains. “It was really built out of necessity as well – studios being so expensive. Any money I seemed to be making I was handing over to studio owners, so I thought I’d be as well to start with humble beginnings. I’m glad I did now, two years later.”

As well as recording his own music, Colm has been able to hone his skills as a producer. It may have been six years since his last solo record, but he feels it’s been worth the wait.

“It was definitely a fresh start and a new beginning,” he says. “I had to up my skills in engineering. It wasn’t just my own music, but to produce other people – I produced an album with The Pale and a guy called Mick Duffy.

For the making of Root To The Fruit, and any other album to be recorded in his studio, Colm wanted to draw from the past as well as the present.

“I knew that records from the 60s and 70s, to my ears, sounded better than more recent records. I wanted to investigate the whole idea of analog and digital equipment; I came up with an assimilation of using both.”

Colm explains the difference between older and newer recording techniques thus:

“When you’re working with analog equipment it’s all about pre-production; a band really has to have their stuff down. I think that’s what happened in the Sixties – bands gigged and rehearsed so much that when they went in to the studio they really were putting down a final article. More and more now, tracks can be built in the studio and e-mailed all over the world for people to play on.”

When it came to picking the ten tracks for Root To The Fruit, Colm had to work his way through a lot of material.

“There’s some really nice songs that didn’t end up on the album but they just didn’t fit,” he says. “I had about 30 songs, and 22 or 23 of those were finished. There’ll be more releases in the future.”

Some musicians see their songs as ‘babies’ but Colm was less precious when it came to picking which tracks he’d use.

“I am quite decisive – I was never one to write hundreds of songs, I kind of know whether an idea’s worth developing or not. I don’t really have a problem with that; I’m quite good at working on a song and putting it away and working on other stuff, then coming back and re-jigging it.”

One of the stand-out tracks on Root To The Fruit is El Capitan, a song that a sort of Tom Waits feel to it.

“That was a bit of a joke song,” says Colm. “I got this new Hammond organ in the studio, which is an old instrument. It has these bass foot pedals and different functions on it and I used to play music on it for people coming into the studio, as a showcase of what it could do. I just decided to record it one day and I had a set of lyrics that were kind of like a children’s song.”

“It didn’t seem right to sing it in a normal voice so I cut off the end of a Ballygowan bottle and started singing through that,” he adds. “There was no intention of putting it on the album but when I started playing tracks to people they were going ‘that definitely has to go on the album.’”

Music has been part of Colm’s life since childhood – his father John Quearney is a veteran double-bass player in Dublin’s blues scene. Did Colm inherit his work ethic from that generation of working musicians?

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Galway girls make a splash on Irish U-15 water polo side

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 18-Feb-2013

The Irish U-15 girls’ water polo team, which was backboned by eight Galway players, made history in Birmingham made history last weekend when they reached the final of the British Regional Water Polo Championships.

All the girls are members of Galway’s Tribes Water Polo Club, formed only two years ago by Deborah Heery and Amanda Mooney. To get eight members from one club onto a National squad of 13 was an achievement in itself for this new club, but to be part of an Irish team – which was captained by Galway’s Róisín Cunningham, Smyth – to reach a final at such a high International level exceeded all expectations.

Competing against Scotland and Wales, Ireland made it out of their group to a semi-final place against the much fancied North West A England team. The semi-final proved to be the game of the tournament with nothing to separate the teams.

After goals from Carmel Heery, Aisling Dempsey, Eleanor O’Byrne, Roisin Cunningham Smyth and a dramatic penalty save by goalie Ailbhe Colleran, the Irish girls ran out 7-6 winners to become the first Irish side to make a final.

In the final on Sunday afternoon, they met tournament favourites, London, who they had previously beaten in the Group stages. With excellent performances from Eva Dill, Ailbhe Keady and Laoise Smyth, Ireland held the experienced English team to a 4-4 scoreline at half-time, but the English team, with their stronger and more experienced panel pulled away to win the tournament in the second half.

The success of the Irish team in reaching their first ever British Regional Finals was enhanced even further when Tribes member, Carmel Heery, was nominated Most Valuable Player of the Irish Team

In addition to their recent International success these girls were also members of the Tribes Water Polo team that won the U-14 & U-16 National Water Polo Cups this year and the Grads invitational U-15 tournament.

The success of this young Galway Water Polo Club nationally and internationally is in no small way due to the exceptional ability of their talented coaches, Padraig Smyth, Amanda Mooney, Jeremy Pagden, Carol O’Neill, Roisin Sweeney, Cathal Treacy.

The Irish team was coached by Aideen Conway (IWPA) and managed by Tribes founder, Deborah Heery.

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Archive News

Feast of folk at An Taibhdhearc

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 21-Feb-2013

Galway group We Banjo 3, comprising Enda and Fergal Scahill with Martin and David Howley, will team up with Dublin band I Draw Slow for a unique concert at An Taibhdhearc, on Thursday next, February 28, 8pm.

Featuring banjos, fiddle, mandolins, guitars, banjolin and vocals We Banjo 3 combine Irish music with old-time American, ragtime and bluegrass influences, revealing the banjo’s rich legacy from its roots in African and minstrel music through to the Irish traditional sound pioneered by Barney McKenna.

Their début album, Roots of the Banjo Tree, was voted best trad album in The Irish Times in December 2012.

The roots band I Draw Slow perform a blend of old time Appalachian and Irish traditional material that has been described as a fully natural evolution of American and Irish traditional styles.

Their top 10-selling second album, Redhills was named RTÉ’s album of the week in 2011 and it frequently features on playlists of stations in Ireland, the UK and the US.

Next Thursday’s concert in An Taibhdhearc is presented by Music Network and An Taibhdhearc and starts at 8pm. Tickets are €15. Booking at 091-562024.

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