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Creator of Inspector Rebus to share stories and songs at Cœirt

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

by Dave O’Connell

His most famous creation is Rebus – the hard drinking, heavy smoking, cynical Scottish detective who sees the world in black and white and doesn’t need to bother with shades of grey – but Ian Rankin has a confession . . . if the Edinburgh Detective Inspector ever met his creator, he wouldn’t like Rankin at all.

“No, he’d see me as some wishy-washy liberal who never did a decent day’s work in his life. That’s why I created Siobhan Clarke – she’s fighting my corner, telling Rebus that things aren’t always that simple; that you must give people a chance to change. But Rebus wouldn’t buy that,” he says.

DI John Rebus and DS Siobhan Clarke may be poles apart but together they’ve been part of Ian Rankin’s life for the best part of 20 years – and despite the author’s earlier insistence that Exit Music was the final chapter in the Rebus story, he admits that he might have to bring the old codger back to life.

“There’s still some unfinished business with Rebus. I know exactly where he is – he’s still alive, retired but working in police headquarters on cold cases with three other officers, two of them also retired.

“Just a few weeks ago I wrote a new Rebus short story for a charity in Edinburgh which I then read at their function. It was bought and published by The Scotsman newspaper but only in the print edition so it’s not online.

“It was for the Royal Blind School and I’ve given them the copyright to the story. I’ve said to them they should put it on their own website as a way of getting people to find out more about their work when they read the story,” he says.

Those who haven’t read the Rebus series – and given that Rankin is Britain’s biggest selling crime novelist, there can’t be many – will be familiar with the character from the ITV series where the Inspector was first played by John Hannah and more recently by Ken Stott.

Everyone else may have seen him on the small screen, but the man who brought Rebus to life hasn’t.

“I’ve never watched it on TV and I won’t until I absolutely know I’ll never write about Rebus again. I don’t want to have a face or a voice in my head when I think of Rebus. I’ve actually no idea what he looks like, but I want to paint a picture so that readers will imagine him for themselves,” he says.

He does admit that he thought Hannah was a bit too young for the role and that, as one fan put it to him, Ken Stott is the sort of man you can imagine punching someone. To add further confusion, the audio books are read by Scottish actor James MacPherson, who is familiar as Mike Jardine from Taggart!

For the most part the TV adaptation is fairly loyal to the original stories – except when it comes to football! Because while Rankin made Siobhan Clarke a Hibs fan, he didn’t give Rebus an affinity with either of the big Edinburgh rivals.

Ken Stott, though, is a massive Hearts fan in real life and the producers decided to make Rebus a Hibs fans, forcing Stott to enter Easter Road for a scene which Rankin says the actor told him was the hardest he has ever had to do.

“And this from a man who played Hitler!” he points out.

Rankin is one of the big names coming to this year’s Cúirt Festival of Literature. He increasingly finds himself on the literary festival circuit – which says a lot about how the crime fiction genre has become more accepted by the literary populace.

“It probably was looked down on in the past but less so now; I was picking up an award at a festival in Barcelona very recently and I bumped into John Connolly there. I frequently meet Ken Bruen at events in the US. It’s nice to be part of a sort of band of crime writers who know each other and meet each other in the strangest of places,” he says.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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