Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

Trad’s loss is opera’s gain as MairŽad sings at Leisureland



Date Published: {J}

Traditional singing was the first calling of soprano Mairéad Buicke (pronounced Buick, as in the car), who will be a special guest with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra when it visits Leisureland on its Spring Tour next Tuesday, March 23.

London-based Mairéad will be performing Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 as part of a programme which also includes Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and his 1812 Overture, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2.

Knoxville: Summer of 1915 paints an idyllic, nostalgic picture of the American South. The work is for voice and orchestra and the text is taken from a 1938 short prose piece by writer James Agee. The score was originally commissioned by renowned soprano Eleanor Steber, who premiered it in 1948, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

“It was written for an orchestra and soprano and it’s tricky, but Barber creates fantastic pictures and colours with the piece he was given,” says Mairéad. The singer from Newcastle West in Limerick, is currently in Dublin, rehearsing with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, but these days she lives in London where she performs with the English National Opera.

Traditional music’s loss has been a gain for the classical world, as Mairéad has performed Verdi’s Requiem and Ravel’s Shérérazade here in Ireland with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, while in London she has appeared in ENO operas such as The Merry Widow and Mozart’s The Magic Flute, where she played Pamina – her most significant role to date. She has performed in recitals all over the world, including in New York’s Metropolitan Club and the Aix en Provence Academy Festival in France.

“I try to create a picture for everything I do,” she explains about her approach to Knoxville: Summer of 1915. “In opera you dress up for the roles, so it’s easier go into another world, but even when I do a concert performance I create my own story.


“The scariest thing as a singer is to go up on stage as yourself, but it’s challenging and it’s good to keep yourself at it.”

Mairéad has been challenging herself since childhood. Recognised as a talented traditional singer from her early years, she took part in Fleadh Cheoil up and down the country between the ages of 11 to 14.

“Then I started having my voice trained with a singing teacher from Kerry, Áine Nic Ghabhainn. A teacher suggested to my mother that I should do it. I was initially against it, because I loved trad and sean-nós singing, but after the first session, I loved it.

“I was very lucky with my teacher. I stayed with her until I was 17 and it was fantastic to find somebody who nurtured me and introduced me to classical music in a lovely way.”

At 17 she moved to a tutor in Bandon Co Cork, which was a major commitment; in Mairéad’s Leaving Cert Year her mother drove here the 115 kilometres to Bandon every Saturday morning where the young singer studied with Robert Beare, who also taught in the Cork School of Music.

After the Leaving Cert she attended the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) where she studied for four years under the great Dr Veronica Dunne who “was amazing”.

Mairéad did a BA in music Performance at the RIAM and then went to the National Opera Studio in London, which accepts just 12 young singers every year.

“It’s like a bridge between being a student and professional work, where you are supported by British companies and have coaches and opera directors,” she says, describing the studio.

After that, she was invited to join the English National Opera, also in London, initially being taken on for a year as a ‘young singer’. She has been there now for nearly three years.

“In your first year you sing secondary roles and you understudy, and as you progress you get bigger stuff.”

Her performance as Pamina in The Magic Flute last year was a big moment in her career and a sign of her growing maturity.

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

Continue Reading

Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads