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Songs from the heart with great Gretchen Peters



Date Published: {J}

Gretchen Peters is an artist whose work really catches your ear. Her songs have been performed by the likes of Neil Diamond, Faith Hill and Etta James. The American singer – who has also received a Grammy nomination – plays Kelly’s Bar on Friday next, March 9.

Etta James was an icon of American music, whose recent passing highlighted a rare and genuine talent, and Peters was a fan. “She sang a song of mine called Love’s Been Rough on Me. It was the title song of an album that she made with the late Barry Beckett in Nashville. It’s really one of the recordings of my songs that I’m just the most proud of. “I’m so grateful that I got to see her in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville about two or three years ago,” Gretchen says. 

 “I knew she wasn’t in the best of health but I have to say I walked away from that performance and I told my husband ‘that’s the best singer I’ve ever seen live’. She just stunned me.”

Gretchen Peters was born in New York but moved to Nashville in the late eighties. It was an inspiring time in the town known as Music City with artists like Steve Earle and Nanci Griffith emerging. They were bucking the trend of writing songs for big stars to perform – in Nashville, the roles of ‘singer’ and ‘songwriter’ are often seen as two very different things.

“It was confusing to me when I first moved there, because there was this idea that you were one or the other,” Gretchen recalls. “I think Nashville’s a little less that way [now] but there’s still that tendency to put songwriters who have had commercial success into a box.”

But having your song picked up by a mega-selling act obviously has its benefits, both financially and for the fact that record companies will take a chance on you. Gretchen Peters scored a hit when Martina McBride covered her song, Independence Day, but this kind of success is not something that motivates her when writing.”

I think that there’s a notion that if you’re a Nashville songwriter, you sit down to write a hit or a song for a particular singer – and I don’t have any of those skills. I mean, I’ve written hits, but they were complete accidents. Nobody was more surprised than me!”

Instead, Gretchen’s personal experience informs her work. This is especially the case with her latest record, Hello Cruel World. The songs were written during a tumultuous 12 months, when Gretchen’s son told her he was transgender. There were also the devastating floods that hit Nashville and the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the affects of which Gretchen could see from her cottage in Florida. And, tragically, during this period a close friend of 30 years took his life.

“If ever there was an album that was all about songs that needed to come out, it was that one,” Gretchen says. “The songs were written, for the most part, in one year in two song writing sessions. I poured it out; I had an incredibly tumultuous year in 2010 and I knew I had to write about it. Everything that happened, good and bad and in-between, had to inform all these 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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