Dedicated fans of The Saw Doctors have been beating a path to the door of the Presentation Convent in Currylea, County Galway, this week in search of a CD that contains very unusual versions of the band’s greatest hits.

Five transition-year girls from The Presentation Convent, as part of a Gael Linn project, have recorded some of the Saw Doctors’ most famous songs.  What makes their CD different is that all the songs are sung in Irish and the arrangements have been given a traditional feel using the school’s Traditional Band, most of whom are from that hotbed of traditional music, Corofin.

The five main singers on the CD are Katie St. John who performs ‘N17′ (N Seacht-Deag); Emer Kelly, ‘All The Way From Tuam’ (Antsti ar fad as Tuaim); Shauna Monaghan and Emer Kelly, ‘Presentation Boarder’ which, of course, was a song of lust and longing written about their own school (Balta Conaithe Clochar na Toirbhirte); Aileen Newell recorded ‘Red Cortina’ (An Cortina Dearag) and Emma Keane, ‘Share the Darkness’ (Roinn an Dorachadas).

Recorded at Sun Street Studios in Tuam, the CD has the full support of the Saw Doctors and their manager, Ollie Jennings, and it was officially launched by band member Leo Moran. I haven’t heard the CD but it really does sound like a very interesting project.

A ‘poisonous’ pen can be mightier than the sword!

Over the years, certain towns and villages in this country have been famously castigated by writers for a variety of reasons. Most people, including myself, would have thought it was a long forgotten ‘art’ but, recently, the good people of Bonniconlon in North Mayo became the latest to feel the wrath of an angry scribe.

Bonniconlon is not too far from Ballina and the criticism heaped upon it and its citizens is contained in a book entitled ‘The Bardic Apostles of Innisfree Continued’.

It is written and published by Seamus Tansey who is regarded as being one of the greatest flute-players in traditional music.  The book is a follow-up to the first volume of ‘The Bardic Apostles of Innisfree’ which was sponsored by Michael Flatley, himself no mean flautist.   However, even though the famous dancer’s name appears as a sponsor on the cover of the second book, he has dissociated himself from it.

Mr. Tansey’s controversial comments about Bonniconlon are contained in a chapter about the famous flute player, Pat Mahon.   Recalling that, some years ago, Mr. Mahon was allegedly dragged out of a pub in Bonniconlon and held down while his hand was smashed with a lump-hammer, thus ending his career, the author refers to the place as ‘a town of thugs and character assassins’.  He then goes on to wonder if, as far as Bonniconlon is concerned, God created some people and allowed others to evolve from the slime of the earth.  He said historic reports of some Irish men having ‘monkey features’ and ‘moronic-like stances’ would probably be descriptive of Bonniconlon.

Mr. Tansey urges the town’s inhabitants to review their eating habits suggesting that the relatively recent addition of bacon to their potato and cabbage diets had created a violent streak in their characters made worse by the addition of poteen and alcohol.  “When that happens, God help anybody who ends up in Bonniconlon where many of the inhabitants belong in a cage but too many of them are still on the loose.”

A spokesperson for Michael Flately said he did sponsor the first book but not the second edition.  He knew nothing about it and was shocked, disgusted and horrified by Mr. Tansey’s comments.  A local County Councillor, Annie Mai Reape, described the book as ‘completely and utterly off the wall’ and said everybody in the area was very angry about Mr. Tansey’s comments.

However, the writer/musician is standing over his comments although he did stress that his comments were not directed at all the people of Bonniconlon, only at the ones who had maimed Pat Mahon and the people who protected and did nothing about the perpetrators of the violent act.

A new ‘beast’ stalks the countryside

t’s been a while since we had a story about a wild beast roaming the countryside but one turned up last week in Kerry. The matter was raised before Judge Uinsin McGruairc who was sitting in Killorglin District Court. The location of the so-called beast is The Brida Valley in the McGillycuddy Reeks and it is described as being a six-foot-long animal resembling a lion with a short head and tail and a coat ‘as black as Judge McGruairc’s gown’.

The person who described the beast is a local, bachelor farmer who was before the court charged with permitting three sheep carcasses to remain unburied in a field to which a dog could gain access. The defendant claimed the beast was responsible for the deaths of the sheep and it had eaten them ‘alive to their bones’. He said he had reported the presence of the lion-like animal to gardai at Beaufort Station and they had taken note of what he said.

However, the court was told that Department inspectors had visited the farm on three separate occasions in the last year and, beast or no beast, Judge McGruairc fined the defendant €150 on one charge and took the other two into consideration.

Because Fluffy loves Arsenal

A man and a cat, both wearing Arsenal shirts, walked into a bar and the man asked the manager if it was all right for himself and the cat to watch the big Arsenal game on television.

“I’m sorry, but we don’t permit animals on the premises”, said the bar manager. “Is there any chance you would bend the rules just this once”, pleaded the man, “the cable is out of order at home and Fluffy and myself are huge Arsenal fans.” “OK”, relented the manager, “I’ll let the cat stay just this once but if there is any trouble you’re both out on your ears immediately.”

Everything went well until Arsenal scored and Fluffy went beserk. She bounded along the bar counter, turning summersaults every few paces and, on the way back, she purred like a motorbike and rubbed herself off all the customers even going so far as to add a couple of licks for good measure.

Because all the customers laughed at the cat’s antics, the bar manager didn’t complain but he turned to the cat’s owner and commented. “My goodness, that was some display. I wonder what Fluffy would do if Arsenal actually won something?”

“I don’t know”, said the man, “I’ve only had her for four years.”