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Punky trio Rural Savage are lighting up the live scene



Date Published: {J}

Rural Savage are a loud, punky Galway based trio. Fronted by songwriter Farren McDonald, the line-up is completed by Jay Burke on bass and Mosey Byrne on drums. They’ve been a regular fixture on the city’s music scene since their first gig in Róisín Dubh a year and a half ago. As debuts go, Farren was happy with it.

“It seemed like it went well!” he laughs. “So Cow [the alias of songwriter Brian Kelly] was there. He really liked it; he came up to us afterwards and said ‘that was great.’ It was kind of an ego boost to keep it going.”

Although he sings and plays guitar, writing lyrics is Farren’s real passion.

“That’s the only thing that I actually do work on,” he says. “I do that every day; I write about five songs a week. I just have a feeling – it’s turnover, until you get to something good. If I can’t come up with lyrics I just watch TV and write the stuff people are saying. Sentences I think are interesting; I collect them and come back to them later. I get some good stuff out of it!”

Farren also avoids the well-trodden path of writing about heartbreak, and prefers to purloin phrases from his peers.

“Things your friends would say are far more interesting,” he says, recalling a night out with David Boland, from The Deprivations. “We were at a party and he didn’t know whether to stay or leave. And he said ‘where would I go and why would I stay?’ So I stole that!”

Rural Savage will be playing the Salty Dog at this year’s Electric Picnic. Earlier in the summer they made their festival debut, at the literature and poetry flavoured Flatlakes weekend in County Monaghan.

“We were booked to play but when we got there they didn’t know that we were playing” says Farren. “So we had this e-mail from the organiser – a kind of a magic e-mail that got us through the door!”


“Then they said they had no slot for us. So they put us in this tent and the place was blown away. It was really stormy, and we ended up playing in this bale of hay, with two other musicians playing over the top – a drummer and another guitarist. It was good fun though, it was different.”

Given that he’s played at Flatlakes and the time he puts into writing, does Farren see a poetic side to his work?

“Yeah, I do think there’s some poetry to the lyrics but I don’t consider it too political,” he says. “I like some political bands – I like the Dead Kennedys, but when I first heard them first I was too young to know what they were on about.

“At the start [frontman Jello Biafra] used to write from a more sarcastic perspective. The first song on the first Dead Kennedy’s album is called Kill The Poor. Now that I’m older, I realise he was writing from a cartoonish version of a conservative. But when I was 14 I thought maybe he really does want to kill the poor!”

Farren was a little disappointed by some aspects of Jello Biafra’s recent Galway show.

“At that gig he was saying something political, a really obvious thing like ‘f**k the bankers’ or something. And there was someone behind me going ‘oh yeah, speak it, tell it.’ I thought, there’s nothing interesting happening here, it’s just somebody giving an opinion with a backbeat.”

Rural Savage will be releasing their debut album I Fell In The Bog And Saw God in October. Farren, Jay and Mosey recorded 11 songs in three days in The Forge studios, Galway. The record was produced by Lost Chord frontman Dave Phelan.

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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