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A Different View

Singsongs and noble calls will rarely hit the right key

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It’s great to hear Finbar Furey back at the top of the charts – because a new song from the oul’ warbler gives the inebriated entertainers of Ireland a new tune to murder during the dregs of a Saturday night session.

That’s no disrespect to Finbar, who is – to use that oft-abused phrase – a living legend. And his chosen song from the surprisingly addictive RTE series, the Hit, is a classic in the making.

He took a song written twenty years ago by a fellow Dub, Gerry Fleming, and polished it into a work of art that, despite the same words and lyrics, sounded completely different in his inimitable hands.

The Last Great Love Song, which hit the top of the Irish charts at the weekend, instantly sounded like it had been around for a hundred years and it may well be around for another hundred – which is to Finbar’s credit.

He is a unique talent, and there is a legion of folk legends who list him as one of the great influences and originators of the genre as we know it – but even Finbar himself would never claim that he had the musical range of more than one key.

Which is one of the many reasons that his repertoire has endured through the decades – because songs like the Green Fields of France or even the Fields of Athenry or Raglan Road or Dublin in the Rare Oul’ Times (I know the Fureys can’t be held responsible for most of those) don’t require a huge vocal range to batter to death in a singsong.

All it takes is an ability to shout with feeling – a talent that most of us find comes naturally to us after a couple of pints.

If you can’t even manage that, then choose a song that everyone can shout at the same time – any rebel song that mentions Black and Tans is always good and late at night anything that calls for a united Ireland is a sure-fire winner every time.

So the secret for bad singers is to pick a song you can shout – and if your own shouting is not enough, pick one that everyone else can shout along to with you.

That said, this is infinitely better than the alternative…..karaoke, and in particular that old staple that so many women in particular seem to think should be their party piece – the Wind Beneath My Wings.

Experience will teach you that this can often seem palatable – almost tuneful – until it gets to the point where Bette Midler moved into a different gear with that elongated ‘Fly’ part of the song….a wonderful evocative moment when it’s sung by a professional.

But placed in the hands of a pub singer with a misguided sense of their own ability, it’s as deadly as a grenade with the pin out in the hands of a mad Mullah from the Middle East.

It can have all the tunefulness of a canine mating call that will summon dogs for miles around, while leaving the audience itself with the sort of recurring tinnitus that once earned our UN veterans a small fortune in compensation for army deafness.

Pub talent competitions should carry a health warning – or at least offer plugs for your ears – because rarely in any other aspect of life will you get that level of delusion.

I can still hear one woman who sang the Roberta Flack classic Killing Me Softly without realising for a minute how apt the tite was – although one could dispute that killing was a soft one, from the audience’s perspective.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

One person’s useless tat is another’s stuff of dreams

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The world is divided into two kinds of people; those who like to live in a world of clean, white lines and minimal clutter – and those of us who just love accumulating stuff.

Stuff covers a multitude, which – depending on your perspective – might be alternatively defined as either the souvenirs or detritus of your life.

Books, match programmes, concert ticket stubs, seashells, Dinky cars, beer mats…it’s all stuff that one person wants to treasure and the other, invariably, wants to throw straight out in the bin.

And it’s at the core of a fair percentage of domestic differences too – ‘it’s my stuff’; ‘don’t move my stuff’; ‘your stuff is taking over the house’ – because, for every hoarder, there’s an aspiring Marie Kondo who wants to take minimalism to new heights.

Attics are invariably full of stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day in years; old cardboard boxes of childhood toys, suitcases packed with dusty photo albums, boxes of video cassettes for which there is no longer a VCR; clothes that you didn’t want but also didn’t want to throw out – and it’s only a matter of time before they’re back in fashion and you’ll have shed the three stone it would take to close the zipper.

Overall, it’s the kind of stuff that you hoped you’d get back to and wallow in nostalgia, years after you consigned it to the darkest recesses of the eaves.

Those who abhor clutter have a different approach, working on the basis that – if you have stuff stored in a box and you don’t open that box for three years – you don’t need that stuff anymore.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Sense of belonging that brings it all back home

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was a chat with a ‘Galwegian in exile’ that brought it all home to me; although now domiciled in the capital for more years than he’d lived in the west, he was delighted to bring his Dublin-born daughter to the All-Ireland Football Final wearing her maroon jersey.

To be honest, she’d probably have gone to Croke Park dressed as Elsa from Frozen because it was just a day out – but Daddy couldn’t have been prouder if his eleven-year-old came on for Damien Comer with five minutes to go.

The sense of place is understandable when it comes to ourselves as born-and-bred Galwegians, because while you can change where you live as often as you like, even if you wanted to, you can never change where you’re from.

But trying to impose your own geographical heritage on the next generation is alternatively seen as understandable and a little selfish at the same time.

It’s a topic for discussion in our own house on occasion because while the two lads grew up in Galway, they were in fact born in Dublin – and if they want to pull my chain, all they have to do is remind of that fact.

My reply is a tired and stock one, to the effect that although Jesus was born in a stable, nobody ever suggested that made him a horse.

The more serious point is that you are shaped by your formative years rather than the maternity hospital of your arrival – and those years were spent in Galway.

Galway is their point of reference for sport and music and school friends and nights out and pubs and college – and almost everything else that really matters.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Gaeltacht days – and a rite of passage to remember forever

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

A scholarship to Irish College wasn’t so much a backhanded compliment as an inverted acknowledgement of your grasp of the language – in other words you got one because you were bordering on useless, or to put it more diplomatically you’d benefit more than the rest from a couple of weeks of immersion in your native tongue.

Only it then transpired that the experience of three weeks in the Gaeltacht taught you that going there had a small bit to do with learning Irish for sure – but a whole lot to do with growing up, or at least beginning that blossoming process.

And you would do all this in an atmosphere as alien to your small teenage self as free elections are to the people of Russia; céilís, cispheil, comhra agus craic – as well as an Irish language version of the Streets of London written and taught to us by Art Ó Dufaigh that still lives in the memory bank, even longer than Ralph McTell’s original.

The truth, when you get there, is the realisation that three weeks in the Gaeltacht is a little like a week at the Galway Races or the Rose of Tralee; just as the horses or the Roses are ostensibly the reason for going, they’re really just the hook to get you there.

And so it is that you go to the Gaeltacht to learn the language but you come home having learned so much more.

My Gaeltacht summer was at the tail end of the seventies with three weeks in Beal a’ Dangan and céilís in Nestor’s Hall, brought there in a bus by a young man called Máirtín Tom Sheáinín who would go on to enjoy a stellar career as a broadcaster – particularly presenting Comhrá – but was back then a knacky driver with a dream, traversing windy roads in pitch darkness.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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