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Summer’s gone – but not forgotten by the Saw Doctors



Date Published: 24-May-2012

 sHE may not have counted among her great regrets, but Donna Summer once ignored me in a corridor at the BBC. I wasn’t alone as it turned out – she completely blanked the Saw Doctors as well and they were higher than her in the UK charts at the time.

And after her untimely death last week from cancer – days before her fellow eighties icon Robin Gibb lost his own battle with the disease – memories of a close encounter with the Queen of Disco came flooding back.

The venue was the Top of the pops studios in Elstree outside London back at the end 1994 – so long ago that Anthony Thistletwaite still had hair – and Davy and the lads were well inside the top twenty with Small Bit of Love while Donna was in the midst of a re-invention after the dive of the disco era.

It possibly wasn’t a career defining moment for Ms Summer – Melody of Love (Wanna Be Loved) peaked at 21 in the UK charts although it did feature on her greatest hits compilation, Endless Summer, and a remix topped the US dance charts.

But she was a legend – albeit from an earlier era – and her presence dictated an increased security presence around the studios; perhaps we played some small part in that security risk.

Although it must be said that we didn’t have a clue who she was either – just a tiny woman with massive hair and even bigger bodyguards to make sure she wasn’t bothered by Galway fellows on her way from her rehearsal to the dressing room.

That may have had something to do with a spectacular night in Bradford the night before where a bloke called Ian Purdham who – after having his three favourite songs by the band tally with Davy’s – won a prize to have the Docs start their UK tour in his sitting room.

And in fairness to Donna, we were equally ignored by Jimmy Nail, the Beautiful South and M People although presenter Bruno Brooks seemed friendly – and hospitality was, if anything, overly generous.

As usual I was an interloper, doing a piece on the start of the tour and the lads being on Top of the Pops but a group of us actually ended up on stage, lepping around in the background like Riverdancers on acid….battery acid.

It had been a late night on the tour bus – my only time on a band’s tour bus as well – after that gig in the heart of a Council estate in Bradford which followed on from an early short set in a school in Huddersfield were Ian the prize winner was a teacher. And, also perhaps the only white person in the school and without doubt the only one who’d heard of the Saw Doctors.

Still, a free class is a free class and the students gathered in the assembly hall for a concert that was to trigger a memorable day – because by that evening Ian’s entire estate was out to meet the bus as it did its impression of a camel winding its way through the eye of a needle along the narrow cul de sac.

To say this was a tough part of town might be an understatement but as so often with such areas, the people had hearts of gold. They certainly had fridges full of Dutch Gold or whatever the lager of the day was because we had cans thrust into our fists with a speed that suggested they were anxious to get rid of the evidence before they were rumbled.

For more see this week’s 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

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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