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Talented jazz quartet spice up dinner time in CafŽ 8 at Museum



Date Published: {J}

What would you like with your dinner – potatoes, salad, vegetables? Or how about some jazz to complement your meal? This Friday, October 22 that’s on the menu when the Matthew Berrill/Aengus Hackett jazz quartet plays Café 8 at the Galway Museum. Berrill and Hackett will also be playing at the Galway Jazz Festival, which runs from November 19 to 22 in venues throughout the city.

Matthew Berrill has been playing jazz for over a decade. His love for the genre began as a secondary student in Headford.

“The school bought a saxophone,” he recalls. “I played a bit of clarinet. I learnt [jazz standard] Take Five and another Latin-y number I can’t remember. As far as I’m concerned that was me, I learned jazz then. But little did I know!”

After his Leaving Cert, Matthew went to the Newpark Music Centre in Dublin to take a diploma in Jazz Studies.

“That introduced me to the Irish jazz scene,” he says. “It’s small! But there’s a lot of quality in it, there’s a lot of really good musicians. It’s a very city based thing; there’s the Cork Jazz Festival – everyone knows about that. There’s a small but very active scene in Dublin. And Galway. It’s growing, definitely.”

Matthew goes on to explain what will be on the menu when his quartet play at Number 8.

“It’s two Galway men – myself and Aengus; he’s a guitarist. Then there are two American guys – Chad McCullough, a trumpeter, and Andrew Oliver, a piano player. They’re both from the North East [of America.] They’re coming over to Ireland for a week, so we’re playing Dublin and we’re playing Galway.”

As with any artistic discipline, once you delve into jazz the world becomes a much smaller place.

“It’s all about connections and it’s amazing once you get to know people,” Matthew explains. “I’m based in Holland for the last couple of years; I’ve travelled a fair bit around Europe and the States and Canada. It’s a great way to see the world and play at the same time.”

Given that Chad and Andrew are only here for a week, will the four players find the time to practise before they do a gig?

“We send the pieces of music via e-mail,” says Matthew. “They’ll come in on Tuesday morning and we’ll rehearse that morning. Then Tuesday evening, we’ll play.”

“A lot of is to do with reading,” he adds. “It’s not just the improvisation side; you need a lot of different skills. You can be a great ear player, but you have to able to read.”

So, in a way, does a good jazz musician need the technical ability of a German footballer combined with the flair of a Brazilian one?

“More or less. But then, you could be like the Irish footballer, just do the skill that you have and be very defensive!” he jokes.

The ability to improvise is something that jazz great Miles Davis had in abundance, but Matthew contends that it’s also something even novices can do.

“You can give them two notes and say ‘OK, just improvise, make a little melody around that,’” he says. “It’s basic, or as simple, as that. The blues is a big thing; people would know the blues in their ear anyway, and the form of it is fairly straightforward. Once you have the basic knowledge of your instrument it doesn’t take too long.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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