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‘Tune in the Church’ at St. Nicholas’ offers trad fans alternative to pub



Date Published: {J}

Cormac Ó Beaglaoich is a busy young man. When he’s not working on his PhD in psychology at NUIG, he can be found playing his concertina at sessions in Galway or further afield. He is also the organiser of Tunes in the Church, a summer series of traditional concerts in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church in Galway City, now in its second year. The 2011 Tunes in the Church was launched on Sunday evening at St Nicholas’ by renowned traditional fiddle player, Martin Hayes.

Cormac had seen this kind of musical event enjoying success in St James’ Church in Dingle in his native West Kerry, and last summer, with the support of the rector, Gary Hastings – himself a well-known flute player – he organised a series of concerts in St Nicholas’.

“The musicians last year worked off a percentage, and I’m grateful to them because they invested in it,” explains Cormac, whose aim is to see any money made return to the performers “who are at the root of the tradition”.

The 2011 series kicks off next Monday with a strong local flavour. Galway piper Cormac Cannnon and Headford fiddle player and singer Breda Keville will be joined by Clare woman Lorraine O’Brien on concertina and sean-nós dancer Máire Ní Chuaig for the event which begins at 8pm.

The concerts, which will run three times a week until September feature some of the leading names of Irish traditional music.

They include Ringo McDonagh, Brian McGrath, Jacqueline McCarthy, Tommy Keane, Alan Kelly, Johnny Connolly, Lillis Ó Laoire, Dermie Diamond, Seán Tyrrell, Ronan Browne, Charlie Harris, Kathleen Loughnane, Mary Bergin, Tim Dennehy, Len Graham and Breanndán Begley and family – including Cormac.

The concerts will take place in the south transept of the church, in an intimate setting. Most concerts, although not all, will feature a musician or two, as well as a singer and dancer.


Cormac is hoping to expand this series to other churches in Westport and Killarney and has spent recent months – when he’s not working on his PhD or playing music – attending tourism seminar and meeting with tour operators in a bid to increase the profile of Tunes in the Church.

“It’s good for traditional music to have a stage there and to dispel the notion that the home of traditional music is the pub,” says Cormac, adding that the venture, which still in its infancy and is about offering visitors and fans of Irish music an opportunity to enjoy concerts away from the pub environment.

This year the audience will also get a chance to interact and ask questions of the musicians. The performers, meanwhile, are guaranteed an attentive audience, which isn’t always the case in a pub.

“It makes musicians appreciate what they have and they get a lot more out of it,” Cormac feels

He says that he himself didn’t fully appreciate traditional music when he was a youngster, despite being a member of the famous Begley musical family from Kerry – his father is accordion player and singer Breanndán.

Cormac had played concertina since he was a kid but when he was in secondary school in Kerry, “was fairly embarrassed about it” as none of his friends or the people in the years around him at school played. In his late teens, he started play in sessions with his father and siblings and then, when he came to NUIG and got involved in the Trad Society “I started to appreciate what I’d grown up with”.

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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.

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