Date Published: 19-Dec-2012
Twenty-five years ago, in a two-storey farmhouse in Tirellan, a group of musicians who would go on to be one of Ireland’s most seminal bands were at work. They called themselves The Stunning and were writing songs that would end up on Paradise in the Picturehouse.
Featuring tracks like Half Past Two and Brewing up a Storm, this classic album will be celebrated in the Seapoint Ballroom, Salthill on Saturday, December 29.
As he gears up for The Stunning’s national tour, with founding members Joe Wall, Jimmy Higgins, Derek Murray and Cormac Dunne, lead singer Steve Wall recalls life in that farmhouse.
“We’d get together in the sitting room in the house, we had all the gear set up,” he says. “It was pretty packed – there’d be eight of us in it! Brass section, keyboards, drums, bass, two guitars. We’d flake away; we started off learning covers.”
Guitarist Derek Murray was also living in the house and DJ-ing in Salthill. His collection formed part of the band’s early influences, especially obscure soul music records. Bands like The Waterboys, Pere Ubu and Echo & the Bunnymen were also releasing great albums.
“You found out about new music through word of mouth,” Steve says. “Or if you had a subscription to the NME. Nowadays people get that information immediately, a bit too much information actually. You get swamped with new stuff, and I think the lifespan of music is shorter as a result.”
Released in 1990, Paradise in the Picturehouse made The Stunning one of the most popular Irish bands of their era. Did Steve have any notion the album would have the impact it did?
“Not at all,” he says. “If anything, we thought it wouldn’t be that well received. We were treating it as a stop-gap album, because it was so short. There were only eight tracks, and half of those were our first four singles. They were all recorded in different studios.
“Got to Get Away was recorded in Sun Studios in Dublin, Romeo’s on Fire was recorded in a studio in Grand Canal Street in Dublin, Half Past Two was recorded in Limerick and Brewing up a Storm was recorded up in the North.”
Because Paradise was shorter than your average album, The Stunning didn’t want their fans paying over the odds for it. They took the unprecedented step of putting a label on the back that said ‘pay no more than £5’.
“There was uproar over it, because no one had ever done that before,” says Steve. “There’d be a wholesale price from the distributor, then the record shops would decide themselves how much profit to put on it.
They might double the distributor’s price, but what we did meant that they couldn’t.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.