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Survivor Andy plays the Crane to launch new book and CD

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Date Published: {J}

Andy White is not your everyday songwriter. When the Belfast born musician plays The Crane Bar on Saturday, February 27 he will be launching a new album and a new book. A musician with over 20 years’ experience, White’s literary career is also something he’s had on the go for a while.

“About 10 years ago, in 1998, I had a Best Of album come out,” he says. “They wanted to bring out a book of poetry with my lyrics in it; all the songs from all the albums, which is quite a lot.

“I’m not crazy about lyrics books and I had poetry I’d written since I was a kid. My dad kept one of the first poems I wrote – when I was nine – and ever since I’ve kept them.

“I got out a poetry book which, in fact, I read from at Cúirt in Galway called The Music Of What Happens,” he continues. “Ever since then I found myself writing more in prose and when the blog thing started to happen on the internet I started a Myspace blog. Very soon, quite a lot of people started to read it. It’s remarkable the amount of people that will read something like that.”

And so 21st Century Breakdown, the story of a modern musician, was born.

“The publisher said ‘I want a book like On The Road, I don’t want to know what the apple strudel is like in Vienna’ – in other words, he didn’t want a travel book,” Andy says.

“People have an image of the way U2 tour and the celebrity world. And it’s not that it’s unglamorous – it has its own peculiar glamour. That’s the kind of thing I was writing about in the blog – how you’d check in luggage without paying excess fees. Or driving in Italy – what hand signals you should learn how to make. There’s not a lot of me saying ‘what a great gig that was, I was superb’, that kind of thing. It’s more like a novel than an autobiography.”

Andy also has a new album to promote. Songwriter, his tenth studio album, sees him collaborate with members of esteemed folk band Be Good Tanya, amongst others. Working with other artist is a process he enjoys.

“You grow up not even knowing what it is to write a song, or how you write a song,” he muses. “When I first wrote songs I didn’t really think about it very much, it just came out. Eventually, through many albums and becoming very ancient, you do discover that there is something you’ve got.

“Mainly, I think I discovered that by writing songs with other people. When you write songs with other people you really dissect them much more carefully. You have second opinions and you can end up arguing about them or toasting each other.”

Calling the album Songwriter is a fairly straight-up job description, one that reminds Andy of a funny story from a recent tour.

“I had a piano player from America and I had to take him to hospital in London – nothing bad,” he says. “They asked him what his religion was and they had a pop-down list. This guy was a real American and he just looked at the woman and he just went ‘Madam, I’m a folk musician!’.”

For more, read page 30 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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