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Julie draws on her roots for a highly personal album



Date Published: 14-Nov-2012

Julie Feeney is a brave and ambitious artist, a singer who follows creative tangents wherever they lead her. Next Monday, November 19 she plays a long-awaited home town show when she comes to the Druid Theatre.

Julie made an instant splash with her 2005 debut 13 Songs, a record which went on to win the inaugural (and prestigious) Choice Music Prize. The concert in Druid will see her launch her third album, Clocks. Given the acclaim and interest in her work, does she ever feel the weight of expectation?

“I don’t actually feel any external pressure, I just feel more like an excitement,” she says. “The idea is leading me anyway, so that’s usually a really nice impulse and it’s lovely to follow that through.

“The hardest part of the process is decision-making. I get a lot of ideas really quickly, and the hardest part is deciding which one you don’t want to use.”

Julie approaches each record with diligence and care. 13 Songs had its own atmosphere; 2009’s Pages had a different sound. Clocks is another progression in her craft, and each song had to fit her vision for the album.

“There’s a song – it’s really lovely actually, even if I do say so myself! –but I’ve left it off [Clocks] because it’s not the right home for it. It needs to gel properly.”

“I actually left off the song because I thought I’ve already covered that ground with Imperfect Love,” she adds. It would make the point too strong; you’d be undermining and you’d shoot yourself in the foot. Everything needs space.”

The space that this album occupies is home. Clocks is a very personal album in which Julie explores her family tree for inspiration.

“It’s very much Galway rooted,” she says. “I very much wanted to sing in Galway – so I did all the singing in Kylemore Abbey. I really wanted to have my feet on Galway land.”

“And also being in America a lot – I did 10 shows in New York earlier this year- and being back and forth as often as I am, you get a different viewpoint on Ireland. What has happened to me is I’ve become even more rooted in Galway, feeling it in my blood. I’m at least sixth generation Galwegian.

“On the album for me, there’s a sort of poignancy,” Julie continues. “I wanted it be more exposed than the last one. On Pages there’d been a lot of third person and that. But I decided this time to just go for it in the first person.”

“Julia is about my grandfather. It’s kind of like a song that he was possibly singing [to my grandmother] – as in, they’re the emotions he would’ve had. They had a really great love story.”

To strengthen the connection with home, Julie took an unconventional approach to the recording of Clocks.

“I wanted to sing my heart out in Galway,” she says. “I went in to Kylemore Abbey, and the Benedictine nuns were fantastic and they were so happy to have me use the gothic church. We went down there for two weeks, my engineer Ger McDonnell and myself. We recorded vocals over eight nights in the freezing cold.”

Julie Feeney is about to start an Irish tour that will see her sing with ten different choirs from across the country. Her show in Druid, however, will see Julie and her band unveil Clocks, as well as songs from her previous album.

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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Archive News

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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