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Congolese musical magician Niwel Tsumbu comes West



Date Published: {J}

Congolese singer and guitarist Niwel Tsumbu and his Song of the Nations band will visit Galway on Friday and Saturday next as part of an Irish tour in association with Music Network.

Since his arrival in Ireland in 2004, Cork based Niwel has developed a solid reputation as an elegant and fluent guitarist, vocalist and composer.

His ability to vividly blend African rhythms, rumba, new jazz, classical flamenco and more has gained him a loyal following all over Ireland. Playing electric and acoustic guitars and singing mostly in his native Lingala, Niwel performs a range of music that stretches from contemporary versions of Congolese traditional music from the 1930s and 40s to modern jazz.

His album, Song of the Nation was praised for its arrangements of violins, clarinet, bass and percussion, an arrangement which is reflected in his live shows, as his five-piece band was formed around the album, which was released to four and five-star reviews last Spring.

His debut album helped cement Niwel’s reputation as a superb composer and performer of progressive, eclectic music. It allowed Song of the Nations Band to embark on a hectic touring schedule including concerts at Festival of World Cultures, Africa Day and an incredible appearance at Electric Picnic alongside Donal Dineen, Kíla and world music legend Baaba Maal.

In his live shows he takes “his audience on a journey of discovery that traverses the peaks and troughs of life’s unpredictable terrain with startling precision” according to Irish Times music reviewer Siobhán Long.

Recently he has been flexing his newly-developed acting muscles with a role in the comic Irish film, Happy Ever Afters,which was released late last year, with a superb cast including Michael McElhatton, Simon Delaney, Ger Ryan and Susan FitzGerald among others. He plays the part of the band leader in the film and he also composed and performed the movie’s soundtrack.

There was a heart-warming end to 2009 for Niwel as he returned to Kinshasa after an absence of five years from the Congo. As well as visiting family and friends, he enjoyed a successful time promoting his music on TV and radio there to huge audiences, and realised that his profile at home has been ever growing in his absence. He will return to Kinshasa in August this year to perform at a prestigious jazz festival in the Congo’s capital city.

In general 2010 promises to be a significant one for Niwel, with both a new studio album and a live album due out in coming months, while in May and June, he will perform a specially commissioned concert of music in the Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray, Co Wicklow. He will also be playing concerts in the UK.

Meanwhile, this current Irish tour gives fans in Galway another chance to see Niwel and his band in action as they continue to promote the album, as well as unleashing new material on their audiences.

Niwel Tsumbu and The Spirit of the Nation will be in the Róisín Dubh on Friday next, February 19 at 8.30pm. Admission is €12 (non-members) and €10 (members) Bookings:

On Saturday, February 20 they will be in Áras Éanna Arts Centre, Inis Oírr at 8.30pm €10/5 Bookings: 099 75150/

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

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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.

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