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Mercury nominee Lisa Hannigan to play the R—is’n

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Date Published: {J}

Lisa Hannigan rounds off a fruitful year with an Irish tour that takes in the Róisín Dubh on Tuesday next, December 8. She first emerged singing alongside Damien Rice in 2001, her beguiling voice adding immensely to the Kildare man’s songs. When that collaboration finished, Lisa began working on her own material, releasing her debut album last year. Sea Sew was met with very warm reviews and was nominated for this year’s prestigious Mercury Prize. All in all, it has been a busy but exciting year for Lisa Hannigan.

“It’s been pretty hectic, in a brilliant way,” says the Dublin based singer. “I had week off but I’d just come back from LA so I’m mad jet lagged. Most of time I’m at home at four in the morning going ‘Sleep!’.

“We were over doing a tour with David Gray. It was amazing craic; they were so nice, his crew, the band and the audience and everything. It was just brilliant.”

The short break at home provided some much needed downtime, but Hannigan is not bemoaning her packed diary.

“Myself and the band have been touring the whole year, pretty much. We’ve had a couple of weeks off here and there but mostly it’s been going all the time. There’s no complaint out of me!”

The Mercury Prize is one of the most respected awards in the music industry. It lauds big-name acts like Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead but also has a penchant for surprises, like when Klaxons were awarded the prize. Although Lisa was beaten to the Mercury by Speech Debelle, the nomination alone gave her profile a huge boost, especially in the UK.

“I wasn’t expecting it all; it wasn’t in my mind,” Lisa says. “I know my manager had entered the record but I didn’t even think about it aside from that. It was so unlikely; I was absolutely over the moon when I heard. The record we were bringing out independently, here and in the UK. It was such a gift; it’s hard to even get your record in the shops over there. That [nomination] really helps; it’s like a big kick!”

Lisa Hannigan and her band attended the ceremony in September and enjoyed the industry junket thoroughly.

“We kind of treated it as a bit of a Christmas party. We went and played our song, and it was great to watch everyone else. Then we just got pretty drunk! It was a brilliant night.”

The hand sewn artwork for Sea Sew really makes the album stand out from other dour looking releases. How did Lisa come with the eye-catching concept?

“I had wanted this idea of a needle book, of thread and fabric,” she explains. “I just thought I could stitch all the lyrics in. It worked out really well in the end. It took about a month to make it but I really enjoyed it.

“I’m actually sowing today as well, because we’re doing a special edition of the record,” she adds. “It’d got a live CD with it and some new videos. I’m stitching a new slip cover over the top so that’s what I’ve been up so late the last couple of nights.”

Although the singer’s first forays into songwriting were tricky, Sea Sew is the work of an artist who has found her feet.

“I used to find it very difficult,” Lisa says about the writing process. “I think it was the blank page syndrome, when you just don’t know where to start. A couple of years ago I started writing songs to some thumpy old bit, a really simple piece or a bass line. I’d write to that and figure out all the music afterwards which I found much easier.”

Lisa Hannigan is ably backed up by an excellent band. Do the musicians help her arrange her songs or does she bring finished songs to the table?

“A little bit of both,” she says. “Usually I would arrange them and say ‘this is the song’. Sometimes I’ll play it and they’ll all find their parts. It just depends really, if I see them the moment I’ve written it or whether I’ve got a couple of weeks to myself.”

Lisa and her band enjoyed a triumphant set at this year’s Electric Picnic but they didn’t have time to soak up the buzz for too long afterwards.

“I usually go down on the Thursday and get dragged out [of there] on the Monday,” says Lisa. “This year, because the Mercurys were on, I had to go down on the Saturday and leave on the Saturday evening. It was really brief! I hardly saw anything; I went for a really quick spin around the Body and Soul area and that was all I got the chance to do.”

Despite all this hurrying around, Lisa is glad to be as busy as she as is.

“I’m enjoying every minute – how could you not? The travelling and the playing, and the gigs have been going really well. I wanted to make the record, and I knew there were a couple of people waiting for it but you don’t know anything beyond that. I’m just so glad it’s gone down well – I still get really excited when I hear something on the radio!”

Before Lisa Hannigan released her album last year she embarked on a nationwide tour of small, intimate venues.

“I’d never stood at the front before,” she explains. “I really felt like I needed to do a tour and just figure it out, in front of an audience. They were brilliant those shows, it was so scary and so fun and exciting to be travelling around and doing it for the first time. I’ll always remember those shows very fondly.”

Within the space of a year, Hannigan has found herself going from these smaller places to playing bigger venues like Vicar St in Dublin and the Radisson show in Galway. Fans of the singer will be glad to know she’s excited to be coming west.

“I’m really looking forward to that gig,” Lisa says. “Galway’s one of the best place in the country to play, not just for the audience, but to just be in the city for the day. It’s always great to wake up and go ‘I’ve got four hours before sound check and I’m in Galway. Sweet!’.”

Lisa Hannigan plays the Róisín Dubh on Tuesday, December 8. Tickets €23 from Zhivago, Shop St or www.ticketmaster.ie or the venue.

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

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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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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