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Rory Gallagher tribute band play Galway on farewell tour

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

The music of Rory Gallagher will be celebrated when Sinnerboy play the Róisín Dubh on Saturday, February 27. The show is also part of the band’s farewell tour, but front man Barry Barnes plans to keep on playing Gallagher’s music.

“I’ve got a solo tour of Holland and a solo tour of Greece coming up,”he says. “It is, of course, still Rory. And I will get another band together. But the thing about it is Dave [Burns, bass] and Steve [Tansley, drums] are so good that I couldn’t just turn up six months later with an inferior product. We’ve been working together for a very long time, it’s a great band and it’s very tight. To find that calibre of musician is difficult.”

Barry organised his first Rory Gallagher tribute show in 1996, one year after the bluesman’s death. It took place in Manchester, where Barnes is based. What began as an informal celebration eventually led to Barnes taking Gallagher’s music on the road.

“That concert was at a local pub in Manchester, very low-key,” he recalls. “Just a lot of my pals, jamming with my band. The place was full, it was packed and I had a lovely time. Then in the morning my wife said when I came down ‘you’d better listen to this’. She pressed the button on the answer phone and a voice said ‘hello, my name is Donal Gallagher. I’m looking for Barry Barnes because I’ve heard he did a tribute to my brother. Get in touch’. So I got in touch with Donal and we’ve been friends ever since.”

Like any true Rory Gallagher fan, Barnes can pinpoint the exact year he first the Ballyshannon born legend play.

“1969 –yes I am old!” he laughs. “I was 17 and it was at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. I walked in and I was really disappointed because I’d seen Jimi Hendrix and I’d seen Cream, and they all used this great big wall of Marshall amplifiers.

“All I saw was this was tiny Vox amplifier on a kitchen chair. And a tiny drum kit and a tiny bass amp, and I thought ‘I don’t think I’m going to like this, this is going to be a bit light for me’.

“Anyway,” Barry continues. “Rory walks in, plugs his Stratocaster into the Vox – and, well, it changed my life really. It was magnificent, absolutely magnificent, and I’ve been a total fan ever since. My hero.”

Rory Gallagher never attained the level of superstardom that many felt was his due. Guns N Roses guitarist Slash has spoken of his admiration for Gallagher, as has U2’s The Edge, but he never sold the volumes that his admirers have.

“I was watching a Wim Wenders film the other day about all the guitar players that brought the blues back to America, like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck,” says Barry. “And these things never mention Rory. If you asked any of those guys, in their heart of hearts, who they look up to and they’d say Rory and Jimi [Hendrix].

“However, I’ve stopped being angry about it because Rory himself didn’t want it,” he adds. “He actively turned down stardom. He was very in touch with the blues, really faithful to the blues and he didn’t really want it. So I can’t get too angry about it.”

Last year, bassist Dave Burns and drummer Steve Tansley decided that their next tour with Sinnerboy will be their last. Barry will continue to play Gallagher’s music as a solo act, but understands why the lads are leaving.

“We are the biggest Rory Gallagher tribute in the world but we can’t make a good living at it,” he says. “If we were a Rolling Stones tribute band, or a Queen band, people would flock to our gigs. But it’s very difficult to find enough Rory fans. It’s sad, but it’s because he was so low-profile.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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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Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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