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Vickers Vimy aim for new heights with debut album

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 13-Mar-2013

Galway band Vickers Vimy play The Crane Bar on Thursday next, March 21, following the release of their debut album That Vinyl Scratch.

Vickers Vimy, named after the legendary early 20th century plane, is the brainchild of Ed Drea and Fintan Hanley, who started writing music together in 2007. After getting a chance support slot with a folk hero in 2008 they began taking it seriously.

“We recorded a home demo, had a bit of craic with that and then didn’t do anything for ages,” says Fintan. “Then we played a gig in Thomastown in Kilkenny. Actually, we were supporting John Martyn that day – I don’t how we got that! He was living down that way before he died.”

As well as opening for the legendary Martyn in Thomastown, that night Vickers Vimy also met producer Daragh O’Toole. O’Toole is an arranger and musician of some repute, whose CV includes working with U2.

“He’s a really strong arranger and a really good producer,” says Fintan. “We did a couple of songs with him and they worked out really well. We got together with him again and it went from there, really.”

Vickers Vimy enjoyed working with Daragh so much that they decided to make an album with him. The recording sessions took place in Daragh’s house in Blessington, Co Wicklow, as well as in several studios in Dublin city.

When it came to recording strings for two songs on the album, there was one name at the top of Vickers Vimy’s list – Colm Mac Con Iomaire. He’s best known as the fiddle player in The Frames, but his solo album, The Hare’s Corner is also superb.

“We just chanced our arm,” Fintan says. “I suppose we would’ve been Frames fans over the years. At that stage we were taking it relatively seriously, and if we were going to be getting someone to play violin, who would we want?

“We kind of gave him free rein,” adds Fintan explaining that their approach was ‘here are the songs, here are a couple of ideas we have. See how you go’. We love his style anyway. We knew he wouldn’t do a dodgy job. He played viola and violin, on the first and third songs on the album. It worked out brilliantly. We were happy to let him off!”

Vickers Vimy’s line-up is completed by Colm Ward (bass/banjo), Ed Mulderring (drums) and Colm Ó Conghaile (guitar/bass/banjo). All five members sing, and Fintan and Ed Drea also play the harmonium – an organ-like instrument that’s driven by foot-operated bellows. How did they chance upon this unusual addition to the Vickers Vimy sound?

“We got it online,” says Fintan. “There were different artists over the years that we were big fans of who used them. Nico, who played with the Velvet Underground, would have done whole albums of harmonium and her singing. More recent it would have been people like Lisa Hannigan.”

The glockenspiel, melodica and Spanish guitar are among other off-kilter things you’ll hear at a Vickers Vimy show. “We have a good few bits and pieces,” says Fintan. “We chanced our arms with megaphones and the like, music boxes – we’ve tried to incorporate them into the live show. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.


“Colm, who plays the banjo with us, has been taking up the trumpet a lot lately,” he adds. “We’re just trying to make things a little bit more interesting, so it’s not just your standard meat and two veg. Trying to give a flavour of bits and pieces.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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