Date Published: 31-Jul-2007
It’s always nice to finish in style and the Galway Arts Festival of 2007 ended with a full house for a rare concert treat provided by Donal Lunny and his Moving Hearts band on Sunday night in the Radisson.
Moving Hearts are a formidable group of musicians fronted by Donal Lunny on bouzouki and guitar, and the wonderfully talented Davy Spillane on the pipes and flute.
Last Sunday night’s grand finale left no vacant seats at the Radisson arena in a two part session which began shortly after 9.30 and didn’t end until well after midnight. For many, including this writer, the first half of the show provided the more intimate experience with that magician of the box, Mairtín O’Connor, accompanying Donal Lunny in a series of traditional numbers.
Apart from his wizardry on the keyboards, Mairtín O’Connor is a man who establishes an easy rapport with his audience, telling the odd yarn between his tunes as if he was sitting on the edge of an old country fireside hob.
A couple of haunting vocals from Philip King and a special guest appearance by Connemara traditional singer Róisin Elsafty provided the perfect balance of voice and instrument in the first half of the show.
The daughter of sean nós singer Treasa Ní Cheannabháin, Róisín Elsafty is a very special talent endowed with a softness and clarity of voice which will always hold an audience spell bound.
The second half of the show was…..
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Galway is central character in new collection of short stories
Date Published: 17-Apr-2013
Galway is the central character in a new book of short stories which is being launched in the city’s Monroe’s Pub next week as part of the Cúirt Festival of Literature.
Galway Stories from Inverin based Doire Press includes work from 20 writers, among them Kevin Barry, Mary Costello, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Julian Gough and Olaf Tyaransen.
All the writers who have contributed to the book have a Galway connection, explains its editor, Lisa Franks who has been working on this project for the past two years. Many city locations, such as Buttermilk Walk, Eyre Square, Parkmore and the Prom feature as do places in the county including Kinvara, Carraroe and Cashel.
American-born Lisa first came to Ireland in 2003, carried here by a love of Irish literature. She undertook a summer writing course at NUIG during which she met the man who is now her partner in life and work, the writer John Walsh.
Lisa has a background as a literary editor and soon after she moved to Galway permanently, they set up Doire Press – more by accident than design.
In 2007 John got a County Council grant to publish his second poetry collection, Love’s Enterprise Zone. Because Lisa had experience in publishing he asked her to get involved and she did, so they self-published the book.
John also runs a regular literary event in the city, known as North Beach Poetry Nights and literary competitions are held regularly as part of that, so the two then decided to offer a prize of publication for the winner.
In 2010 they published No Recipe, the debut collection of poetry by former Drimcong House owner and chef, Gerry Galvin, who died suddenly last month. They subsequently published his first novel, Killer à la Carte .
“Then we started taking it seriously and we are lucky in that most of the books we have published have received City or County Council grants,” says Lisa. This year they received their first Arts Council grant, which is for this book, and there’s another in the pipeline for later this year.
Galway Stories is an attractive looking book, with cover illustrations by Holly Mullarkey, whose husband Jim Mullarkey happens to be one of the contributors. The front cover evokes a rainy day in Galway City while still managing to be warm and inviting. Initially Lisa had intended using a photo of Galway for the cover but all the ones she contemplated, while lovely were very flat, she explains. So she discussed her ideas with Holly who submitted six paintings – the first of which was perfect for the front.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Trbune.
Sociability is key to Darragh’s success
Date Published: 18-Apr-2013
Darragh Guinnane is a born salesman although had he followed in his parents’ footsteps he might have been in the hospitality business – but he’s not ruling that out if he ever gets tired of the insurance business.
He loves his job as an insurance broker and right now he is on a high having been elected as this year’s President of the Insurance Institute of Galway.
At 31 years, he is probably the youngest president they have ever had and by accounts he is a welcome choice because of his ‘can do’ attitude.
Within minutes of being in his company, it is also obvious that his warm personality and thirst for life draws people to him. If he has many of the traits of a salesman, he is also a born leader.
The eldest of three children born to Gerry and Martina, who used to run The Round Table restaurant in High Street in the 1980s, he is no stranger to business and remembers working there when he was still a schoolboy.
The restaurant attracted city centre workers who wanted a solid, home-cooked meal. In fact it was like a club as most of the customers got to know each other through the very hospitable Gerry and Martina and it was certainly a home away from home for workers.
It was also probably where Darragh first learned his own people skills as he can practically talk to just about anybody about anything.
“I do. I love people. One of the things I like best about this job is being on the road, meeting people, visiting clients. Some days I would have tea, scones and sandwiches in a few houses, one after the other.
Sure it would be rude to refuse,” says Darragh who admits he loves his food, quickly adding that he could do with getting fitter!
When he was still a teenager he helped run a family pub in Crusheen in County Clare for three summers in a row.
He tried college, studying Arts in NUIG, but dropped out after a year as it didn’t really float his boat. He preferred playing golf. He was a member of Athenry Golf Club for 17 years and did toy with the idea of going professional. While in college he organised a golf team which won the national inter-colleges title.
And like most of his peers, he thought about emigrating but he knew it would break his parents’ hearts, especially his mother’s so he got a job with Hibernian Insurance in Knocknacarra where he worked for three years in the claims department of Aviva.
A family friend who also worked in insurance told him he was wasted in claims and advised him to get into the brokerage side.
“Well, I did and I have never looked back. I love it here. I started first with Galway Hooper Dolan Insurance in 2004. I remember my first sale was to a publican in High Street and I was thrilled. I know a lot of businesses in the town from the time my parents ran their business there,” says Darragh and mischievously agrees that he does indeed have ‘the gift of the gab’.
Darragh now works as a commercial insurance broker with O’Leary Insurance based in Liosban. He joined that group five years ago and in December was made a director, one of four general directors in the company, led by Michael Tarpey, whom he describes as a mentor and whose experience in the field he respects.
“He has a great feel for the business because he has such experience. I have certainly learnt a lot from him and I do pride myself now on the fact that I seldom lose a client unless they go out of business. Once they are with us, they tend to stay with us because we believe in good service, a personal one.
“The business has certainly become very competitive, especially here in Galway and younger people coming into the business are finding it harder to get into it, as they have to sit exams and get accreditation. This is extremely onerous but it has to be done to regulate the business and ensure it is run professionally.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.