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Impeccably pedigreed Intinn creating music for extraordinary times



Date Published: {J}

In ordinary times, the notion of four paddies and a backpacker from Switzerland forming a top-class reggae band would sound every bit as preposterous as a dreadlocked Jamaican with a deftness for sean-nós dancing.

But having witnessed the success of an Irish cricket team and a Black US President who hails from Moneygall, it is clear that these are no ordinary times, just as Intinn is no ordinary reggae band.

The story of how the Galway-based quintet got together and came to be named the second-best reggae group in Europe last year may sound like a skewed retelling of the John Candy film, Cool Runnings, but a glance at the Intinn musical pedigree will tell you that their rapid success has come as no surprise.

The western contingent of Intinn, composed of Cian Finn, Catriona Cannon and Iarla Fox, are what could conceivably be described as musical blue bloods; parented respectively by De Dannan founder Alec Finn, acclaimed harpist Kathleen Loughnane, and renowned Inishbofin musician Geraldine King.

While the troika have doubtlessly inherited the musical ability of their elders, perhaps it is strange that they have strayed so far from their trad and folk roots to the exotic realm of reggae music? Reggae is a loose description of what the band produces, however, and more of a genuflection to the music that inspires them rather than the sound that defines them.

“When we say reggae, we mean the many types of music that we are inspired by,” said vocalist Cian Finn. “But most people aren’t familiar with the reggae-dub spectrum. They hear reggae and they think we’re a Bob Marley cover band or something.”

But Bob Marley never played to the backing of a traditional harp. There is a distinct Celtic twist to Intinn’s energetic blend of reggae-dub that incorporates electronic drums, a synthesiser and the rhythmic vocals of its lead singer.

The genetic legacy of their trad bloodlines is clearly not entirely lost on Intinn but Cian was always more drawn to music from further away from home. “I was never really a mad trad-head as a child,” he said. “But my parents listened to a lot of soul music at home.”

It was a discarded reggae compilation album that someone had left behind in the house that first introduced him to the music of Bob Marley and the likes of King Tubby and Don Carlos. Galway club nights such as Jungle Fever and Rootical Sound System continued to feed his passion for the genre until he moved to Cork to study and Intinn’s roots were sown.

He and Iarla Fox, his friend since a young age, decided to form their own reggae band and recruited bassist Daniel McEoin and Catriona Cannon to play the keyboard, an aptitude for which – although her specialty was Celtic harp – was amongst her vast array of musical talents.

She took leave of the band for a year thereafter to further her studies in Italy and was replaced on the keyboard by Swiss backpacker Sebastian Zeiss, who Cian had met while visiting Barcelona. It was a fortuitous move that was to shape Intinn’s unique sound because, upon Catriona’s return, she incorporated the haunting traditional melodies of the Celtic harp in the band’s music.

“When Catriona was playing the keys she had to concentrate on making the synth noises and melodies,” said Iarla. “But once Sebastian took over the synth, it allowed her to just think in a melodic, decorative way; where she meanders over a tune and moves it along, allowing the melody section to be really solid.”

The band quickly earned a reputation for their high-energy performances at venues around the country and in June 2009, they recorded and released their debut self-titled album. But it was last summer that things really began to kick off for the group.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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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