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Menopause offers Flo new chance to go centre stage



Date Published: {J}

It’s unlikely that singer, actress and mother Flo McSweeney will ever get a swelled head – at least not when her eight- year old daughter Mia is about.

“I sing in the car bringing her to school and when we get near her school Mia says ‘stop mum!’. I tell her that people used to pay to hear me sing,” laughs Flo.

People certainly did. Flo was one of the country’s best-known performers during the 1980s and early 1990s, when she sang with groups such as Les Enfants, Toys with Rhythm, and Moving Hearts and presented RTÉ’s pop programme, Megamix. More recently, she anchored the travel programme No Frontiers and still works as a voiceover artist for radio and TV ads, although it’d be fair to say her career has taken a back seat since the birth of her children Luke (13) and Mia.

However, in recent times Flo has moved centre stage again and will be appearing in Menopause The Musical at the city’s Town Hall Theatre from March 1-6, along with fellow performers Adele King (Twink), Linda Martin and the UK’s Ellen O’Grady

“I’m getting a lot of slagging from my friends,” she laughs. Last year Flo did another show, Mum’s the Word with the same production company, which was a big commercial hit, so when she was approached about taking in Menopause the Musical she was delighted.

One stipulation of being in Mum’s the Word was that you had to have children, she says, but “thankfully that’s not the case this time out”.

“I keep saying I’m not menopausal yet, but I will be by the end of the run!”

Menopause The Musical is a comedy with a whole of lot music and four defined characters, she explains. Linda Martin plays a soap opera actress, Adèle King is a housewife, Ellen O’Grady is a business woman and Flo’s character is described as ‘an earth mother’, but “she’s really more a hippy chick – a bit mad and a bit flaky”.

The script consists of parodies of songs from the 1960s and 70s and Adele in particular has several sketches that are “very rude but very funny”. Essentially, “it’s four very strong singers in a very funny show”, Flo says.

The opportunity for a bit of humour is something people are happy to avail of right now.

“Were living in such a depressed time that a show like Menopause works because it’s a feel-good night.”

The idea of four women on an Irish stage laughing at the menopause, at hot flushes and hormonal mood swings, hasn’t raised a single eyebrow of disapproval. And that’s strange because it isn’t so very long ago that sex was a taboo subject in Ireland.

Flo remembers that when she was growing up, it was forbidden to advertise sanitary towels or tampons on the TV. So, it’s massively liberating to tour a show like this.

“Sometimes you see quite elderly women [in the audience] and initially they are shocked and then you see them laughing.”

Flo is now 48 and while she has put on some weight since her rock-chick days, she’s in good shape “everything is working as it was 20 years ago”, she laughs.

Most importantly, she is happy to be back on stage, although she isn’t seeking the limelight.

“For me it’s about work and not about fame. Adele and Linda would merit most of the attention [in this show]. I just like the idea of working.”

She is not driven by a financial need, but feels “it’s good for you to be doing what you love” adding that a little bit of her did die when she stopped performing.

“Part of me feels a little bit guilty, like when my daughter was on the phone 15 minutes ago saying ‘I miss you’ – I wonder if I’m being very self indulgent. But it’s only a six-week tour and I’m home every Saturday night.”

Home is in Knocklyon in South Dublin, and Flo’s husband is the comedian Barry Murphy, who is currently hosting the comedy show That’s All We’ve Got Time For on RTÉ 1 television, and who forms one third of the hugely successful Après Match comedy group.

For more, read page 31 of 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

Ballinasloe dig deep to book date in Croker



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

Ballinasloe 2-7

An Port Mor (Armagh) 0-10


The men of Ballinasloe are on their way to Croke Park after overcoming a spirited second half fight-back from 14-man An Port Mor of Armagh in a keenly contested All-Ireland Junior Football semi-final at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday.

Seven points up against a team who had corner forward Christopher Lennon sent off late in the first half, Ballinasloe looked to be cruising to victory at the break – but ultimately they had to dig deep to see off a defiant late challenge from the Ulster champions.

Ultimately, the damage was done in the first half. St Grellan’s produced some fine football in that opening period, two goals from central attackers Padraic Cunningham and Michael Colohan giving them the seven point cushion which made all the difference in the end.

Ballinasloe will have to analyse why they lost their way somewhat in the second period but, led by Man of the Match Darragh McCormack, Paul Whelehan, Liam Lynch, Gary Canavan, and Keith Kelly, they produced some delightful football to cause all sorts of bother in the An Port Mor defence throughout the opening period.

Backed by a huge travelling support from the East Galway town, Sean Riddell’s side enjoyed a dream start as rampant corner forwards McCormack and Whelehan combined to win a free which was comfortably slotted over the bar by Kelly after two minutes.

Even better was to come three minutes later when McCormack brilliantly rounded his man before providing a perfect pass for Whelehan, who was hauled down in the penalty area. Centre forward Padraic Cunningham calmly slotted the spot kick to the bottom left hand corner and they were 1-1 to no score up with five minutes gone.


McCormack and Whelehan combined well again before Canavan set up a good score for midfielder Lynch, but An Port Mor looked to be right back in the game when corner forward Shane Nugent was fouled in the Ballinasloe penalty area with 11 minutes on the clock.

Centre forward David Curran blasted the penalty over the crossbar, however, to the relief of the large Ballinasloe following. Curran provided the next score from a short-range free, following another foul on Nugent, but the Armagh men had to wait until the 30th minute before registering their first point from open play.

Ballinasloe enjoyed a purple patch at this stage, hitting 1-3 without reply, including a brace of points from Whelehan and a well-taken score on the run from Lynch, who dominated the midfield sector.

The Connacht champions produced some sublime moves in the third quarter and could have added a second goal when the superb McCormack had a shot blocked down, after his initial effort was deflected back into his path, following good work by Lynch.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Galway get job done



Date Published: 04-Feb-2013


IT might seem something like a short term outlook, but really nothing else matters in a first match of the National League, only the result.

Galway went into last Sunday’s Division Two game with Derry in a somewhat reticent mood . . . last year hadn’t ended well, and two weeks previously in Enniscrone, Sligo inflicted another unexpected blow.

The visit of Derry represented a trip into the unknown as the northern side under new manager, Brian McIver, have also embarked on a rebuilding process – never something that tends to deliver early results.

As Galway manager, Alan Mulholland, stood on the heavy sod of Pearse Stadium at around 3.30 last Sunday, he was essentially relieved that his side had come out on the right side of a 1-15 to 0-15 scoreline.

There were no whooping supporters but a small core of fans had gathered in the tunnel to clap Galway off – wins have been scarce enough of late, so when they come, they’re to be enjoyed.

“Yes, there’s no two ways about it, a win was vital for us here today. We have a young team, this is a work in progress, but there really is no substitute for a victory. It is a confidence thing, and we needed that boost,” said Mulholland.

A fortnight previously, he had plenty to chew on as Sligo ground his side down in the FBD league to win by 0-9 to 1-4, with Galway just scoring two points from play in that tie played in Enniscrone.

“We are concerned about our fade out periods in games. In Enniscrone it happened to us over a 60 minute match where we just couldn’t sustain the effort and today we really let Derry back into it, especially in the third quarter.

“It was a strange kind of game in one way, in that both ourselves and Derry played far better football into the wind, but that sometimes happens as teams are more conscious of retaining possession when facing a breeze,” said Mulholland.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.


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