Date Published: 11-May-2011
Award-winning Galway musician Úna Ní Fhlannagáin has played for heads of state and was employed as the private harpist of a Lebanese millionaire but this weekend she performs in the more modest surrounds of Nun’s Island Theatre with her newly formed trad band, Triúr.
The series of gigs back in her hometown as part of the new three-piece group excites her as much as any of the prestigious events at which she entertained socialites in as many as 17 countries during the course of her travels as a harpist and singer.
In fact, she recounts the story of how the three musicians got together with such a fond sense of fate and romanticism that their coalescence of musical minds sounds more Mills and Boon than Gilbert and Sullivan.
“Do you know the way some people get together they say that it was like their eyes met across a crowded room? Well, it was like our fingers met across a crowded room one night at a session and we really enjoyed playing together,” says Úna.
“That was just before Christmas and, after that, we kept sort of ‘accidentally’ turning up at each other’s sessions. I think we were kind of in awe of each other until eventually I built up the courage to ask them if they wanted to be in a band together.
“It turned out that they both had been thinking the same thing. It does sound a bit like some illicit teen romance and I think it was actually around Valentine’s Day that we actually got together,” she laughs. “Now we play together as much as possible and we get uncomfortable if we don’t see each other for 48 hours.”
As is the case with most fairytale romances, Triúr do – quite literally – make beautiful music together. The sum of three quite diverse musical traditions, the group is perhaps the only one in the country to feature the rare combination of a harp, pipes and an accordion.
“I think the result is a unique sound,” says Úna. “There are three of us but, because our instruments are both harmony and melody, it actually sounds like there are more of us. I don’t believe there is another single combination of our instruments in Ireland.”
Piper Brewen Favrau hails from Brittany but plays a Scottish instrument and has completely immersed himself in Irish traditional music. Accordionist Ger Chambers is from Mayo and is described by Úna as “the grooviest player” she has ever seen.
“His speciality is rhythm,” she says. “You can’t help but tap your feet to his smoking, steaming fast reels. They just make you want to dance.”
Úna herself cites her father, John Flannagan, as her biggest influence and has been instilled with the distinctive musical style of his native north Clare. She self-diagnoses a “schizophrenic musical personality” however, and says her harmonic language is often quite “poppy”, peppered with blues notes and not uncommonly jazzy.
The trio hail from quite disparate musical traditions but all have been similarly steeped in musical backgrounds from an early age. Úna’s father is not a professional singer but that, she says, is only because he doesn’t want to be and he counts among his fans Christy Moore, who once wrote about him on his website after seeing him perform. Her musical pedigree also boasts her famous cousins, Dolores and Sean Keane.
Úna’s career to date has seen her perform for dignitaries including President Mary McAleese (twice), the Prime Minister of Jamaica, a host of TDs and senators, and a gathering of some of the world’s best-known human rights advocates at a recent function at the Glenlo Abbey Hotel.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.