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Connacht Tribune

Pine the Pilcrow progress to top of the musical tree

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Pine the Pilcrow...new release.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

It is two years since atmos-folk four-piece Pine the Pilcrow launched their sophomore EP Only Ghosts. Much like the group’s self-titled release in 2016, their second body of songs was poised and elegant, promising a place alongside ambient Irish acts like Lankum and The Gloaming.

Pine the Pilcrow’s music has always been emotive – each track in the band’s catalogue conveys its tone and meaning before a lyric is sung.

While that remains true for their latest single, If It’s True expands upon early sounds and ideas. It announces that over the course of the last twenty-four months, the band has grown more dynamic and refined.

With earlier Irish dates postponed for the foreseeable future, Pine the Pilcrow remain set to play Galway’s Black Gate Theatre on Wednesday, June 24.

Understandably, it is difficult to plan too far ahead right now – but the new single is a statement of intent to progress regardless of the country’s current circumstances.

If It’s True was released on streaming platforms on April 2. The song builds slowly from its minimalist base of rich grand piano into euphoric harmonies and delicate drums that dominate its latter stages. With an emphasis on sound quality, pianist Kevin Murray is quick to note the impact of producer Alex Borwick on the project.

“With Alex, he gets on board with the project so you’re not paying him for time,” Kevin asserts.

“He works with you before even recording. He came to my house in Ballybay and we set up a mini studio there to record demos of three songs. Everything was settled – structure and parts were nailed down… I really wanted to use a grand piano on this recording.

“As I mentioned I’m from Ballybay but I was also aware that in Monaghan town, they have a grand piano in the arts office. They were kind enough to give us the piano and the time in the office for nothing. We were able to use their piano to get a lovely nice sound and then we did a lot of the other vocals and overdubs and stuff in Alex’s home studio.”

Alex’s work extends from acts like The Young Folk to Catfish and the Bottlemen. The band’s core sound remains the same on If It’s True, but there are marked improvements in terms of structure and fullness.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Drug drivers in Galway warned over new roadside testing

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Those who take recreational drugs could be caught for driving under the influence for days after consumption, gardaí have warned.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) on Monday, drivers were warned that there would be serious consequences for getting behind the wheel with drugs in their system.

This comes as Galway Gardaí roll out a new roadside test for drugs which reduces the time required for a result – and broadens the list of drugs for which drivers are tested.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche told the meeting that since last Thursday, the new test had come into use – cautioning drivers that in the run up to Christmas and immediately afterwards, some 1,500 mandatory intoxication testing checkpoints would be carried out.

Gardaí would be testing for the presence of drugs, he said, for which “the sanctions are quite severe”.

“The new drug driving tests have been in use since December 1. It now only takes four to six minutes for a result – it was anything up to 30 minutes. The analysis is much quicker and the range of drugs tested for is wider.

“People should be aware that drugs stay in the system for a long time – it could be four or five days, or even a week in the system and it will still show up on the test,” said the chief.

City Councillor Frank Fahy (FG), who drives a taxi in the city, said people in general were not aware of the extent of drug use and he believed that this new test would show up just how prevalent it was.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 9 edition of the Connacht Tribune or Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Ukrainian curator’s Galway exhibition features work of war-affected young artists

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At the beginning of this year, Ukrainian artist Martisha Sea was looking ahead to an exhibition of her work in Kyiv on March 10.

But just a few weeks before it was due to open, Russia invaded Ukraine and she found herself in Galway – forced from her home by a war which has reduced her home to rubble and keeps her awake at night in fear of what might happen the loved ones she had to leave behind.

The shock, pain and fear stoked by Putin’s invasion is the basis of the exhibition Martisha has curated which will be launched this Friday night at Gallery 126 in Galway City.

“I want Ukrainian artists to be visible,” Martisha tells the Connacht Tribune this week, as she puts the final touches to the exhibition which features the work of five Ukrainian visual artists including her own paintings, as well as the work of Ukrainian children.

For Martisha, art is one method of “healing the scars” inflicted by the war which broke out in her country when Russian troops invaded in February, forcing millions of Ukrainians to flee their homeland.

“Art is a way to express those feelings,” says Martisha who explains that no two experiences have been the same since the war began.

“Some children have been raped and tortured. In Ireland, most people arriving here have been more or less fine, but I wanted to create a project with children involved.”

An open call for Ukrainian artists was issued, she says of getting the ‘Point Zero’ exhibition started, and through that, a collection of paintings, sculptures, photography and music has been gathered.

On the opening night, the bandura, a traditional Ukrainian instrument, was played by Tetiana Herasymova, while the exhibtion’s soundtrack has been created by a musician Martisha collaborated with previously on a project for Kyiv Botanical Gardens.

Martisha will also perform on a number of occasions throughout the exhibition’s run, in a display which she says will expose her vulnerability and encapsulate the reality faced by Ukrainians since the outbreak of war.

In April, Martisha and her younger sister were still in their home city of Kryvyi Rih, but intensifying bombing and concerns for her sibling’s health meant that leaving became the only option for the pair.

They both made the heart-breaking decision to flee, leaving behind the life they had built, taking only what they could carry and their two cats.

■ Point Zero is at Gallery 126 located in Hidden Valley, Woodquay, Galway, at 6pm and runs until December 30.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 9 edition of the Connacht Tribune or Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Whiskey plan turns sour for producers

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The distance between a whiskey production enterprise and a proposed warehouse for its maturation was one of the reasons why planning has been refused.

The proposal was to construct a single storey warehouse building around two miles from Ballinasloe to complement the existing distillery in Ahascragh – but it has been given the thumbs down.

The planning application was submitted by Easyfix Limited, which manufactures rubber products, for the development adjacent to their existing business at Persse Business Park in Ballinasloe.

The company own the site at this location but had intended providing a warehouse to facilitate the existing whiskey and gin distillery in Ahascragh, which has recently received several awards for their products.

Galway County Council rejected the proposal stating that it would be built on a rural unserviced location – around eight miles from the primary business in Ahascragh.

Planners said that in the absence of a robust justification for a warehouse development in an unserviced location, it would be “incompatible with the ethos of rural enterprise”.

They also said that the particular site was occupied by mammals (without specifying what these were) and that from an ecological and environmental point of view, the proposed development was unacceptable.

In the planning application, it was stated that the proposed development would involve whiskey maturation and bottling stages of the production process.

They applicants said that the maturation and bottling were inherent key stages of whiskey production and occurs after and separate from the distillation process.

The McAllister Distillery in Ahascragh in the old mill is nearing completion but the owners are already brewing their own products.

According to their submission to the planning authority, Easyfix Limited stated that when the McAllisters were granted planning for the distillery a couple of years ago, the maturation and bottling was not permitted.

“An extensive warehousing facility is required to facilitate this process in order to assist the Ahascragh Distillers.

“The distillery site is located on a confined site within the village and would not have the access to expansive space required to accommodate and associated maturating and bottling facility,” it was argued.

The application was accompanied by a letter from the Ahascragh Distillery owners Michelle and Gareth McAllister who said that a warehouse goes hand in hand with a whiskey distilling operaton.

They said that a rural and less dense setting was preferable as a maturation warehouse for whiskey needs to be secure.

It would have limited access points with safety and security being a top priority for what they said would be the storage of “a very valuable product”.

“The site at Persse Park is ideal for our whiskey maturation warehousing. It is close to the distillery in Ahascragh allowing for daily deliveries of freshly made spirit for casking and storage in the warehouse,” they said.

(Photo: Gareth and Michelle McAllister from Ahascragh Distillery).

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