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Paula Flynn takes centre stage

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Date Published: 21-Oct-2009

Miss Paula Flynn, one of Ireland’s most interesting, emerging artists, plays the Town Hall Studio on Tuesday next, October 27. Up until recently, Paula was best known for her star turns singing alongside the inimitable Jinx Lennon but is now taking centre stage with the release of her debut album.
“It’s going well, I think!” says the singer. “I just have to keep plugging away; I’m getting good reviews. Journalists and all are liking it; I’ve got no bad reports yet.”
Paula is delighted to be hitting the road with a debut record to promote.
“I’ve always wanted to make an album,” she explains. “Singing with Jinx, I’d get an awful lot of people coming up saying ‘can we buy your album?’ and ‘you should make an album’. I suppose it’s a mixture of that and wanting to do it but I wouldn’t just bring anything out. I’d be very self-critical, and it took me a long time to be relaxed and confident enough to bring out my own stuff.”
Miss Paula Flynn is an arresting collection of songs with Paula’s unique and stirring voice to the fore. One of the album’s many highlights is Little Miss Forkhill, inspired by the singer’s hometown in County Armagh.
“It was one of the last songs I wrote,” she recalls. “I wrote it a week before I went in to record. I was panicking; I was going ‘there are not enough songs about where I’m from.’ I wanted one to say who I really was and where I was from, things I remember. It just came flooding to me.”
Jinx Lennon’s songs are very much rooted in where he’s from (Dundalk) and Paula admires this quality.
“I like people who write about where they’re from,” she says. “For years I would’ve got slagging at secondary school about being from the Bog Road.”
“I don’t care anymore, I love where I’m from, I’m proud of where I’m from. I think the ultimate way is to have a song about it.”
Some of the songs on Paula’s album are new, but there are others she’s been working on for a while.
“I suppose the ideas have been floating around for a long time,” she muses. “Ghost In My Car for instance – that line was in my head for years. Goldfish At The Fair as well – these things have just been floating around. I’ve reams and reams of notebooks so I just took the best of everything and started writing. I was working with Greg McAteer – he’d do most of the music and I’d come with vocal melodies and write most of the lyrics.”
McAteer is also Paula Flynn’s manager. They met after Paula enjoyed extensive airplay with her cover of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance.
Although happy enough with the attention it brought, Paula didn’t want to follow a path others were laying out for her.
“It just seemed to work,” she says about meeting Greg. “I’ve had a couple of managers over the years and I don’t like all that crap.
After the Let’s Dance stuff I had two or three managers who just didn’t understand where I was coming from, they just wanted me to do an album of covers. To sing songs that I wasn’t into? I was going ‘I’m not doing this, there’s no way’.”
Greg encouraged Paula to stick with original songs and also happened to have the entire back catalogue of renowned American country music group, The Carter Family, one of her biggest influences. Greg suggested some musicians he knew and the scene was set for Paula Flynn’s debut album.
“I didn’t want it be too polished or over-produced,” she says.
“There’d be a lot of musicians who I like live, then when I listen to their albums I’d be put off. That would be my biggest fear, to have an album that didn’t represent me.”
Miss Paula Flynn is a beguiling listen, and marks Paula out as a serious talent. The album’s critical reception has been very positive, as Miss Flynn discovered lately.
“Last week I met this journalist after Jinx’s gig in the Sugar Club [Dublin],” Paula says. “He came up to me and he was a wee bit drunk. He said ‘I reviewed your album and I gave it four out of five.’ I said ‘why did you not give it five?’ Y’know, messin’ with him and he goes ‘because it wasn’t perfect’.
“That’s brilliant, because there’s no way I would want my album to be perfect! That was the best thing he could’ve said to me. I don’t ever want to be perfect; I just want to develop as a songwriter.”
How did Paula and Greg manage to capture such an honest, direct sound?
“We recorded it live – the drums, the cello, the guitar and myself all at the one time,” she explains. “We did 20 songs in two days. We did two or three takes and picked the best; if I wanted to fix a few wee things I would. We wanted to sound like it was immediate; just the way they did it years ago, that’s where I get the Carter Family influence again.”
From singing alongside the searingly honest Jinx Lennon to the possible commercial success offered by Let’s Dance, Paula Flynn has found her feet as a performer.
“What I’ve found out through all this is I have to be singing songs I believe in,” she states. “That’s the most important thing. We did a gig in Offaly, there were six or seven people at it, but I’d a really good time. Jinx would say ‘the show has to go on’ and that has taught me a huge lesson. You can’t expect to have your first album and have people running around after you; you have to build up your audience.”
Miss Paula Flynn’s show in the Town Hall Studio is not to be missed.
Here is a singer of rare, unaffected talent, with an album she is deservedly proud of.
“The more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it. I don’t hear me anymore, it’s almost like it’s someone else’s album, That’s more than I’d ever want, the feeling of ‘I really like this’.”
Miss Paula Flynn plays the Town Hall Studio on Tuesday, October 27.
Doors 8.30pm, tickets €12 from www.tht.ie or 091569777.

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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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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