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Storytelling night celebrates joy of fact, fiction and improv



Date Published: 08-May-2013

IRISH people love stories, telling them, hearing them and sometimes making them up. Now a new Galway group is giving people a chance to share their stories, true and improvised, as part of an initiative called Moth and Butterfly.

It’s the brainchild of actor and writer Órla McGovern who, having cut her teeth on the theatre scene locally with companies such as Punchbag and Flying Pig, spent 13 years in Seattle where she first heard of the Moth storytelling concept.

Moth was set up in New York in 1997 by US novelist George Dawes Green, with the aim of recreating the experience of storytelling on a porch in Georgia, while moths flew around flickering lights. He wanted the not-for-profit group to be a place where ordinary people could tell their stories – sad, funny or anything in between.

The subsequent spin-offs included a Moth Slam, a speeded up version, which also had an element of competition.

“I liked the faster version but not the competitive element,” says Órla. So here in Galway, they have adapted the event to Moth and Butterfly where the evening also includes improvisation.

She and the other organisers are involved both in storytelling and improvisational theatre, both as performers, teachers and listeners. They realised that crossovers between storytelling and improv were rare so they developed the idea of a night where both could be showcased.

Moth and Butterfly takes place on the third Wednesday of every month at the Townhouse Bar in the City’s Spanish Parade.

There is a featured theme every night. These are wide ranging and offer people lots of scope. Past ones have included Too many Cooks, A Great Discovery and Windows and Doors. This month’s is Lost and Found.

The evening consists of three separate sections, says Órla. The first is Moth style stories, which must be short and true. They should have a theme and the person who is telling the story should feature as a character. Storytellers can have their piece prepared in advance, although they aren’t allowed notes because this is all about the oral tradition.

Then there are Butterfly style or Improvised stories, which are created on the spot – no two are the same.

The third section is Freefall and this includes all other kinds of stories that still fit the theme of the evening. These can range from fiction to fairy tales, from tall tales to a story in a song, and can be prepared in advance or improvised.

People can contribute to whatever section they feel most comfortable with and everybody who wants to, is welcome to take part.

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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