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Irreverence in the air as Nualas play Town Hall on Good Friday

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

Sex on the farm, the current political climate, Ireland’s obesity problem and the country’s housing crisis will the themes of songs being performed by the all-singing, all-dancing, all-acting Nualas when they visit the Town Hall on April 6, Good Friday, with their new show, One Night of Dignity.

“Irreverence and drink will be the order of the day,” says the Nualas’ newest member Maria Tecce, referring to the fact that alcohol will be freely available on the night, because the Town Hall’s theatre licence permits it.

“We’ve got a new show and Galway is one of the first places on the tour, so there will be a lot of fresh material,” says the Italian-American jazz cabaret singer, who lived in Galway for two years after first arriving in Ireland about a decade ago.

Maria subsequently moved to Dublin where she forged a successful career as a cabaret singer and an actress before joining Anne Gildea and Sue Collins in the Nualas over a year and half ago.

“I knew Ann from the Dublin scene,” says Maria, explaining the background to her involvement with the comedy group, which was founded in the mid 1990s, with Anne and Sue being there since the beginning.

During their previous seven years together The Nualas completed six sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Festival and played theatres in Dublin, London and New York. The New York Times described their work as ‘wackily original’ while The Scotsman simply declared, "Genius. Kill to get a ticket!’

“Anne rang me to say she had a view to re-forming the Nualas,” continues Maria, “and was wondering if I knew anybody who could sing three-part harmony, act and do comedy. I suggested a few people, but they had already tried some of them and wanted to work with somebody new.”

Eventually she offered to fill in while they succeeded in finding someone. It was an ideal match – the only reason they hadn’t asked her was because they thought she was too busy.

The three got together in Sue Collins’ house and ‘had a laugh”, running through potential material. That was a year-and-a-half ago and Maria has gone from filling in with the Nualas to being fulltime.

But it’s been a tough year. They launched a new show early in 2011, in Vicar Street and then started gigging nationally. However their plans had to go on hold when Anne was diagnosed with breast cancer in July.

“She was the first thing and the most important thing was to get her well,” says Maria. “But nobody was more disappointed than Anne about having to put things on hold, because she had spearheaded re-forming the group.”

Anne’s treatment involved chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiotherapy to tackle the cancer. Her radiotherapy finished a few weeks ago, and her entire experience was documented by a moving documentary, which was broadcast on RTE 2 in early March.

Meanwhile, as Anne was being treated, Maria had to spend a few weeks in hospital, after an injury to the base of her spine left her unable to walk.

“But we’ve turned a corner now and come out fighting,” says Maria, acknowledging that they tried to keep writing while Anne was sick, partly to keep themselves busy.

Maria has kept herself very busy

since arriving in Ireland about a decade ago. Following her move to Dublin she has worked with the Abbey and Gate Theatres as well as on productions for BBC and ITV. Her career this side of the Atlantic began Galway, she explains.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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