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Size2Shoes on a mission to create inspirational pop

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Date Published: 06-Nov-2009

Size2Shoes play Kelly’s Bar, Bridge Street this Saturday as part of the Spirit Of Voice Festival. The Limerick band is made up of brothers Eoin and Moley Ó Súilleabháin, sons of esteemed musicians Dr Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Dr Nóirín Ní Riain.

Eoin and Moley’s impressive vocal harmonies have been charming audiences nationwide, but they’re not the product of a musical hothouse.

“You think we would’ve been singing together, like thrown together, from an early age but it was kind of the opposite,” says Moley. “Both our parents are musicians but they never really put much pressure on us. We sailed through our early teens because we were too cool for each other, and we didn’t play together.”

Around eight years ago Moley and Eoin began playing together regularly and they have worked on their sound since, as well as changing their name.

“We were called Súilí and The Mole Man, which is kind of like Hooty and The Blowfish but we changed it because that was too long,” Moley explains.

“We changed to Size2Shoes because I met this bird in college. She was my own age 21, 22 and she had size two shoes.“Basically, I wrote a song about it. It’s a love song I suppose. We like to write love songs without mentioning he or she, to try and keep it open.”

Moley and Eoin have invented a specific term to describe their type of music.“We try to write ‘inspirational pop’,” says Moley. “When you listen to a lot of acoustic music it’s quite slow and it’s not very happy. With the Irish singer/songwriter scene, I’d find anyway, there’s a kind of downtrodden-ness.”

Moley has a very clear mission when it comes to writing and performing, and he’s determined to shake up his chosen genre.

“I wanted to get into acoustic music just to be upbeat and happy,” he states.

“I suppose I must be a happy person because I don’t want to write songs that aren’t there to make you feel good, to make you feel an emotion other than stillness or sadness. Something that’ll make you smile, basically.”

A Size2Shoes live show is an entertaining trip through many different styles, held together by the Ó Súilleabháin brothers’ precise harmonies.

“We genre hop a lot,” says Moley. “We kind of do a rock tune and we kind of do a jazz tune and I do some beat box and rap. The inspirational thing would spill over in that we’re there to entertain, we’ll play anything really.

“We try to make it as funny as possible,” he continues. “We did one or two stand-up gigs which did make us better. We do some kids’ gigs as well, we find them very good; comedy and kids, gigs – if you don’t keep people entertained they’ll get up and walk out.”

In concert Moley frequently shows his skill at ‘beatboxing’ – where a performer recreates the sound of a turntable with his voice.

“We’ve got a song called Temper, Temper; in the middle of that, when we do it live we drop in R. Kelly’s Remix to Ignition,” he says. “The first song on our current album, Take it Easy, that really drops in well with Sadé’s Smooth Operator. Our approach to writing would be tongue-in-cheek, trying to keep it fairly happy.”

Moley is also a huge fan of rap music and will also use his own MC skills at a gig.“I got into gangster rap at boarding school,” he recalls. “Which is kind of unusual, because I never thought I’d get into electronic music; I was into acoustic music. But no, now I’m just a big hip-hop and techno head.”

Acoustic music spliced with R&B and hip-hop by two guys from Limerick is as unusual as it sounds, but Moley is happy with the reception Size2Shoes are getting.

“The reaction we’ve had has been pretty ridiculous!” he laughs.“People aren’t expecting what they hear when they see us get up there with two guitars. What people have seen [before] is just a different style. A lot of singer/songwriters or groups, they seem to not know what they want to achieve. All we want to do is put a smile on people’s faces and keep a smile on ours. A lot of other groups, smiling wouldn’t even come into it. Ours is good old fashioned entertainment.”Size2Shoes have found a celebrity admirer in the shape of Russell Crowe who has called the Eoin and Moley ‘unaffected and awesome’. How did the lads get the attention of the A-list actor?

“That story’s got legs man, it’s crazy!” says Moley. “[Limerick actor] Richard Harris was in Gladiator with Russell. Apparently, Richard Harris was pretty fond of the booze and Russell would be pretty much the same. They used to get on like a house on fire.

“There was a statue being unveiled in Kilkee in 2006. I don’t know who made the hook up to get Russell over but he arrived with his personal assistant and a friend who played guitar. Someone had it set up that Russell would sing a song he had called Mr Harris. It’s on his album. We got the call from the Kilkee Town Council to come down and be the band with Russell, to sing the song on the back of a truck.”

Rather than playing the song and leaving, Crowe hung on and ended up hitting the town with Eoin and Moley. The unlikely hook-up has presented the lads with a unique recording opportunity.“I think he took a shine to us,” says Moley. “He’s filming Robin Hood in London and we’ve been over to visit him. He’s a really cool guy; he invited us to record our second album in Australia, on his ranch.

“We’re really excited about that. It’s pretty epic; it’s just as random as it sounds!”Hollywood hobnobbing aside, Size2Shoes are focused on putting on the best show possible for punters.

“We both talk about this quite a bit,” Moley says. “We want people to leave feeling happy, uplifted – uplifted by the music, and also by the virtuosity of it. But it’s not a gimmicks show. A Size2Shoes show is pretty wacky; it does stretch a lot of things.”

Size2Shoes support Linton Kwesi Johnson in Kelly’s Bar this Saturday, November 7. Tickets €15/10 in advance.

They also headline the Róisín Dubh on Friday, November 20.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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First local bragging rights of the new season go to Mervue Utd

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Date Published: 18-Mar-2013

Mervue United 2

Salthill Devon 1

Jason Byrne at Fahy’s Field

Mervue United have earned the early bragging rights in the latest instalment of a derby clash with their old rivals Salthill Devon thanks to first half goals from Tom King and youngster Ryan Manning at Fahy’s Field on Friday night.

Old teammates were re-united on the field as the likes Jason Molloy, Tom King, Gary Curran, Paul Sinnott and new Devon signing Derek O’Brien were among the names who used to wear the maroon of dormant Galway United.

Mervue came out of the blocks strongly and Curran unleashed the first meaningful shot after six minutes which failed to trouble Ronan Forde and glanced wide.

Two minutes later, former Mervue striker Enda Curran fired Devon’s first effort from distance but steered well clear of the target.

Almost immediately at the other end, Mervue thought they had taken the lead when King was released into the box and his shot squirmed under Forde towards goal, but Devon skipper Eugene Greaney was at hand to clear off the line.

Three minutes later, an almost identical move was executed by Mervue as Brendan Lavelle played King in, who this time opted to dink over the advancing Forde for a marvellous finish to give Mervue a deserved 1-0 lead.

Mervue immediately searched for another as Manning picked out Varley, and with his cross he searched for Lavelle but William Enubele cleared just as Lavelle was about to head it.

From the resulting corner, Manning whipped it in to Varley, whose shot was well blocked by Colm Horgan.

A second goal was coming, and it arrived on 18 minutes when King played a neat exchange with Paul Sinnott and he squared for Manning, who shot first-time to bag his first League of Ireland goal.

Following this it looked as if Mervue could further stretch their lead by half-time, but Devon kept their heads up and as a result of their hard work they eventually began to find their feet.

As the interval drew closer O’Brien – who had been eventually signed by Devon just hours before the kick-off – collected a long hopeful ball from Forde and cut inside but blazed over with the goal at his mercy.

Five minutes later, Enda Curran won a loose ball and his pace proved too much for Michael McSweeney but his shot was well saved by Gleeson.

On the break Mervue pelted forward and Lavelle saw another effort blocked by the omnipresent Greaney who was a rock at the back. Lavelle collected again and squared for Manning, but this time he mishit his shot and Forde caught easily.

On the stroke of half-time the teenager had another go at bagging his second but his free-kick sailed well over into the astroturf cages at Fahy’s Field.

A crowd of almost 300 people made their way to the east side of the city to witness the encounter, and perhaps a mixture of the heavy rain in the hour before kick-off along with the racing at Cheltenham earlier in the day affected the attendance.

The second-half failed to prove as entertaining as the first as Devon kept fighting hard to claw back into the contest and prevent a third goal which would have ended their chances of getting points on the board.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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Festival whets the appetite for new food experiences

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Date Published: 21-Mar-2013

I know it’s hard to believe, but there are well-grounded, consistent reports in recent weeks that Fianna Fáil nationally has been receiving a large number of new applications for membership of the party.

When I heard it first, I thought to myself – sounds like new recruits to join the crew of the Titanic. Now, I’m beginning to wonder if they knew something that the rest of us didn’t.

For, FF showed a bounce in two recent opinion polls. And then George Lee did his walkout from Fine Gael, leaving FG and Enda Kenny to watch anxiously in the coming months as further polls come in, and the Kenny leadership comes under renewed pressure.

 

Fine Gael is still well ahead in the polls, but you write off FF at your peril. The old Fianna Fáil ‘faith’ still runs deep even among many of those who are now angry at the way the country was allowed to run on to the economic rocks under FF stewardship.

On the face of it, it sounds like FF shouldn’t be an even vaguely attractive prospect for new members . . . you can be damn sure that FF unpopularity was one of the main reasons that Galway West TD Noel Grealish (formerly of the PDs and now Independent) wouldn’t touch joining the FF Parliamentary Party with a barge pole and has been flexing his political muscle in recent months as an Independent.

That’s despite FF Ministers Eamon Ó Cuív and Noel Dempsey courting Grealish for months to join FF, with even speculation of a junior ministry ‘sweetener’ at some stage when Brian Cowen eventually carries out that long-threatened reshuffle.

Wonder if Grealish would reconsider now? For there’s no denying that in recent weeks in FF there has been a sneaking dawning feeling that, if they could just hold off the General Election until 2012, then maybe – just maybe! – at least their bedrock support might have come back by then and the massacre of FF TDs might not be quite as bloody as has been predicted for the past year.

Why, some FFrs believe they might even have enough TDs left to cosy-up to the Labour Party. That’s provided of course they can hold out to 2012 and their government partners, the Greens, don’t tear themselves apart in the meantime with their habit of washing dirty linen in public.

People like Grealish would have been hoping that some of the FF voters might go for the ‘first cousin’ in the shape of a former PD like himself – well weren’t the PDs just a family row in FF? The big test for angry or wavering FF supporters on election day in a place like Galway West would be just how many of them would vote Fine Gael? I have always been of the belief that ‘the hand would wither’ before they could give ‘the blueshirts’ a vote.

Meanwhile, in the past few weeks, the pressure has transferred to Fine Gael. They are the ones who now have to worry about any slippage in support, they have convince us that they could run the economy better . . . and against this shaky new background, they also have to worry about ‘upping their game’ in key areas like Galway West.

One of the most recent opinion polls showed the highest regional level of support for Fine Gael as being in Connacht-Ulster, which was traditionally the area which Fianna Fáil could count on as heartland. That has to be ‘the Enda Kenny factor’ coming through in constituencies close to his Mayo base, where FG had a huge 53% of the first preferences in 2007.

For more, read page 12 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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