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Mary releases new songs to mark Fulbright award

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Date Published: 10-Jan-2013

Traditional singer Mary McPartlan who is a member of staff at NUI Galway, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to City University of New York. To coincide with the prestigious award two new recordings are now available for download on Mary’s website.

The first is a tribute to the late poet Pearse Hutchinson in a song and video, while the second recalls the Chilean singer Victor Jara in a song and poem recorded with President Michael D Higgins.

When I Was A Young Girl is a version of the ballad St James’s Hospital, a blues lament recorded at Pearse Hutchinson’s family home in Dublin. The song was a favourite of the late poet, and a version of it – The Locke Hospital – was recorded by Christy Moore on his album, Prosperous. It will feature on Mary’s new album which she plans to begin recording in New York early this year. Mary had previously shared a stage with Pearse Hutchinson and the late poet Michael Hartnett and she sang at Hutchinson’s funeral last January.

Mary first recorded Victor Jara, a ballad written by English poet Adrian Mitchell on her last album Petticoat Loose. Last summer she recorded a new version of it on tour, when she was joined by Michael D Higgins before he was elected President of Ireland. On that occasion, Michael D read his poem The Wall, a tribute to the late Chilean singer and political campaigner Victor Jara.

More recently, President Higgins read the poem on his State visit to Santiago in Chile where he met Victor’s widow Joan Jara. Mary’s performance with Michael D Higgins, recorded at the Mermaid Theatre in Bray, Co Wicklow, can also be heard on her website.

Both the video and songs are timed to announce the prestigious Fulbright Award which was awarded to Mary last year and begins at the end of this month. It will see Mary take up residence for four months at Lehman College CUNY.

The Fulbright awards are presented on an annual basis to Irish students, scholars, and professionals to undertake postgraduate study and research at higher education, cultural, and related institutions in the United States.

As part of her Fulbright Scholarship Mary will teach a module on Irish Traditional Women Singers and Songs since the 1950s and also give a series of lectures on Irish Contemporary Playwrights and plays. She also plans to give performances at University of Notre Dame, Boston College, the Irish Arts Centre in New York and she will give a concert at Glucksman Ireland House on March 1.

Apart from her existing repertoire, Mary will include and perform some of the songs of Irish legendary singer Margaret Barry while in the US.

She is currently working with writer and broadcaster Vincent Woods to create a theatre and music piece based on the life of Margaret Barry.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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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

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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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