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Traditional music and folklore are inspiration for special city concert

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

Dave Flynn is one of the few people in Irish music who is equally at home performing in a traditional session, a jazz session or in a classical concert.

The Dublin born, Spiddal based composer and musician who learned his traditional music at workshops during festivals around the country, trained as a classical guitarist under the renowned John Feeney and went on to do a degree in music in UCD.

Dave’s first instrument as a child was tin whistle. Then he had piano lessons but he didn’t take to that. When he started guitar, though, he felt had found his instrument.

As a teenager he dropped everything for heavy metal, but he points out that heavy metal draws influences from classical and folk music and it was through this that his interest in classical and trad began to develop.

He studied rock music at Ballyfermot College before continuing with a degree in music in the DIT Conservatory of Music and then a Masters Degree in composition at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He recently completed a PhD thesis, entitled a Traditional Irish Music: A Path to New Music, under Galway composer, Jane O’Leary. It’s not a bad achievement for a man who never intended studying music.

Dave lived in London while studying for his Masters there and then moved back to Ireland. Wanting to live rurally, preferably in the West, he went scouting for a home. On his first visit to Spiddal, he found what he was looking for and has settled there happily, playing regularly at the sessions in Hughes Pub and making an impact on Galway’s trad and classical scene as well as on the bigger stage.

Dave has written music for Galway’s Ensemble in Residence, ConTempo and is now guest resident musician with the classical quartet.

He will join forces with them for a concert in the city on March 12, which will also feature two of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians, uilleann piper Mick O’Brien and Kerryman singer and accordion player Breanndán Begley.

The concert which will be performed at St Nicholas’s Collegiate Church in Galway City on Saturday, March 12, consists of three pieces where Dave brings classical influence to bear on the Irish tradition. But, he says, all the compositions are his own.

“Personally I don’t use any old trad tunes. Things might sound trad but it’s all original.”

The first of the three pieces is the award-winning score, The Cranning, which he wrote some years ago.

Cranning refers to an ornamentation technique of the uilleann pipes, and the piece also draws heavily on the influence of Donegal fiddle playing.

“I bring different techniques such as fiddling techniques and piping techniques into the string quartet. In one piece the quartet sounds like an uilleann pipe,” explains Dave.

The uilleann pipes have a very specific sound, not normally found in classical music, but ConTempo have made a great job of capturing it, he says.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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