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Reinvented Tuam band Strange Boats release debut single



Date Published: 24-Oct-2012

With toe-tapping tunes and clever lyrics, Strange Boats play Monroe’s Live on Friday next, November 2. The Tuam-based quartet release their debut single Boys Walk Faster Than Girls this weekend.

Strange Boats made their live debut earlier this year, but had already been turning heads under their previous moniker The Coonics.

“There was about a year between the last Coonics gig and the first Strange Boats gig, and that’s when all the new songs came along,” says lead singer and guitarist Darragh O’Dea. “A thought process has gone into the songs, what they were going to be about, and the structures. We took what was good about the Coonics song and took them on to the next level.”

Darragh, Rory Donnellan (lead guitar), Richie McDonagh (bass) and David ‘Flats’ Flaherty are boyhood friends and The Coonics were the first band they were in. The hooks and the attitude were there from the get-go – The Sawdoctors were so impressed that they invited the young band to open for them on their UK and Irish tour.

“We went to the Olympia,” recalls Flats. “I have the ticket stubs of every gig I’ve ever went to, and you look at them and you think ‘I’m never going to be playing there.’ Then we were in Shepherd’s Bush, and you’re backstage and the place is covered in all the bands you would’ve looked up to; they all played there. It’s a bit mad to think you’re up there as well.”

“We went from learning instruments to playing [Glasgow’s] Barrowlands,” adds Darragh. “It just went so fast without being able to look at what music we were playing or what we were sounding like, or what the songs were about.”

Some time out of mind was needed before the lads regrouped and came back as Strange Boats. Their first gig in Tuam back in August saw them play a set of brand new songs. There was a sharper sound, plus some unlikely influences – in one of Strange Boats’ songs Darragh name checks Sam Cooke. How did he hear about this overlooked soul singer?

“I’m not exactly sure how, or what the first song I heard was, but whatever it was I loved it straight away,” says Darragh. “Everyone of his songs is just an ear-pleaser, to me anyway. Then I heard ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’.”

“He had written these songs in the Fifties, and he was dead in ’64. He had all these great pop songs written pretty much before The Beatles had even come on the scene. I was like ‘how did I not know about this guy before?’ I think they’re the perfect pop songs, perfect structures, everything about them.”

Making a song sound effortless is often the trickiest thing. Strange Boats’ songs have very few frills, no wailing solos or atmospheric effects. Their songs are direct, but they stick in your head. Is this lean sound something they’ve worked on?

“It comes very naturally like that,” says Flats. “Darragh’ll come in with chords and lyrics, most of a song, Rory’ll put the magic on it.

“When the four of us go in the shed, musically, it’s easy to fill in the blanks. But we don’t sit around and go ‘there’s too much fat there, take that out.’ I don’t know – we like two-and-a-half minute songs!”

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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