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Pioneering Duke Special to air new album in Galway



Date Published: 02-May-2012

The inimitable Duke Special will be in concert in Galway on Friday, May 4. The Belfast based singer will be showcasing songs from his new album, Oh Pioneer at the Róisín Dubh.

Duke is a songwriter who takes inspiration from many different sources – Punch of a Friend, the first single from Oh Pioneer draws from a classic of American literature.

“It’s inspired by East of Eden, John Steinbeck’s novel,” he says.

“This man [in the book] was totally depressed and dejected after his wife had run off – she’d actually shot him as well. And left him with their two newborn twins. And he was so down in the dumps and lifeless that he hadn’t even given them names.

“So a good friend called by, and determined to shake him out of his stupor, made him stand up and then punched him in the jaw. He fell over and he couldn’t believe his friend had done this to him, but a spark of life came back into his eyes. And he stood up, and then his friend hit him again and knocked him down. His friend helped him up and said ‘let’s give names to your children’.”

Last year, Duke Special released Under the Dark Cloth, which was inspired by early 20th century photography. In 2010, he released two records – one inspired by the work of playwright Bertholt Brecht and the other by American writer Paul Auster. Yet these albums still have that Duke Special sound and his turn of phrase.

“Inevitably anything I write, whether it’s based on old photographs or from a play, you can’t help but have your own experiences be a filter through which the story has to go,” he says. “Yeah, I think my first few records there was a lot from personal experience. It’s actually really exhausting to constantly trawl up your own feelings! I found it a really helpful way to write in recent years to look at something else and then respond.”

Under the Dark Cloth was commissioned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Duke explains how he came to compose an hour-long suite about the founding fathers of art photography.

“I was playing some small shows in New York and some people from the Met Museum came to one,” he recalls. “They asked me to come to the museum the next day, they had a proposal. They told me about this amazing exhibition, featuring the photographs of Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. The idea was that I would somehow collaborate with these photographs.”

This presented a huge challenge for the songwriter, but it’s one that Duke Special is ultimately glad to have taken on.

“I felt the enormity of the task; I had to completely immerse myself in their world,” he says. “One of the songs was like a requiem to the old photographic process, so I was reading books and watching films and documentaries and all kinds of stuff.

For more, read 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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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.

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