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DNA test provided singer Ed with new take on his talent

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Date Published: 17-Oct-2012

Americana fans are in for a treat when Ed Romanoff plays a free show upstairs in the Róisín Dubh on Monday next, October 22. The Brooklyn-based songwriter has just released his self-titled debut, at the age of 53. Could he be called a late bloomer?

“I’d say that’s fair!” he laughs.”I don’t if there’s anything later than the word ‘late’ – but if it didn’t happen now, I don’t know if it was going to. Part of the reason I started late was I thought I was tone deaf. The family I grew up in, my father was tone deaf and I thought that I was like him.”

Although he played in bands in his thirties, it was only at the end of the last decade that Ed found his feet as a writer.

“I was writing stuff down on napkins, but I really wanted to learn about song writing,” he says. “So in 2009, I started taking some writing seminars and I met some really great artists. People like Josh Ritter, Mary Gauthier and Darrell Scott, and I started learning how they were doing what they were doing.”

Mary Gauthier is a highly acclaimed songwriter – one of her songs features on Bob Dylan’s radio show for the American station, Sirius. Gauthier and Ed Romanoff struck up a friendship and co-wrote one of the standouts on Ed’s album, Breakfast for One on the 5th Of July. It won Best Lyrics at the 2011 International Songwriting Competition and the 2011 USA Songwriting Competition.

While meeting Gauthier has helped Ed in his craft, it also led him a life-changing revelation.

“She liked the song we wrote together, so she took me on the road,” he says. “Halfway through she wanted to take a DNA test, because she’s adopted, she wanted to learn about her biological family. I took a DNA test with her because she wanted someone there, she was nervous.

“When my results came in it said that I was Irish and not Russian. I took another test and it confirmed that I was, in fact, Irish. So it turns out that I’m not tone deaf, and the father I grew up with actually wasn’t my father.”

Unsurprisingly, this discovery found its way into Romanoff’s songs. On St. Vincent De Paul he wonders “If we met on the street/Would I know his face?” The results of the DNA must have had a profound effect on Ed.

“At first I didn’t believe it, I was like ‘that can’t be’,” he recalls. “I got my brother to take it, and it turns out we’re half brothers. And that’s when I started to think ‘man, there might be something to this’.

“It kind of gave me the sensation of falling; I would wake up feeling like I had just landed,” he adds. “It messed with my identity a little bit. Looking in the mirror, I started to wonder ‘well, who do I take after?’.”

On a more prosaic level, his Ed’s friendship with Mary Gauthier has shaped his approach to song writing.

“She’s a diligent worker,” he says. “The song we wrote together, we probably put 80 drafts together. Every single line she goes through, closely, and every single word. It was very eye-opening for me to see that. When we were going to record it, she said ‘if anybody asks you, tell them that we wrote it in the cab on the way to the studio!’.”

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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