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Connacht Tribune

Abandoned village in the frame

Judy Murphy

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Artist Padraic Reaney with Tom Kenny of the Kenny Art Gallery.

Lifestyle – Ruined houses on a north Connemara island that was depopulated 58 years ago this  month, have been captured in a new exhibition, Inis Airc – the Inishark Project.  The work was captured over a 17-year period, artist Pádraic Reaney tells Judy Murphy.

A cluster of ruined houses on the south-eastern corner of the deserted Connemara island of Inishark have inspired the latest show from artist Pádraic Reaney.

Inis Airc, the Inishark Project, is an exhibition of paintings and graphics by the Carraroe artist, which opens at the Kenny Gallery in Galway City this Friday, October 12. It’s the culmination of an initiative which began in 2002, when Pádraic visited the abandoned island for the first time. He was with a Parks and Wildlife team from the Office of Public Works who were doing a bird survey of islands in the area.

That was in April 2002, when “I did some quick sketches on a notebook”, he recalls.

Inishark, which was once home to 300 people, was depopulated in October 1960 under a State initiative, when the last remaining six families – consisting of 23 people aged from 11 months to 73 years – were relocated to Claddaghduff on the nearby mainland.

In the years preceding their final exodus, the dwindling population of Inishark had endured much hardship, mostly because the island was inaccessible in any kind of inclement weather.  In 1958, a local man died of appendicitis because there was no phone or no way of informing the outside world about his plight. Drownings, too, had taken their toll and eventually, the few remaining islanders opted to leave. For the Government, it was easier and cheaper to relocate them in Claddaghduff, between Clifden and Cleggan, than to build a new pier that would have allowed them to remain on Inishark.

More than 40 years later, Pádraic made his first visit to the 615-acre island and was hooked. Over the course of 15 years, he returned when opportunity – and the tides – allowed. Landing on Inishark was always difficult and has become even harder as its old slipway has fallen into disrepair. But, when circumstances are right, the island is still accessible and the land – good land, he points out – is used to graze sheep, owned by farmers from the neighbouring island of Inishbofin.

These animals wander freely around the island, including among the islanders’ former homes, where Pádraic set about creating an artistic “record of what has been left”.

He has form in this regard, and, was awarded the Pádraic Mac Con Midhe Prize at the 1979 Oireachtas for a series of etchings which recorded the rapidly disappearing thatched houses in Ros an Mhíl.

Early on in the Inishark Project, Pádraic decided to focus on the exteriors of the houses, because “nothing that was on the inside interested me as much as the houses in the landscape did”, he says. “The only interesting features on the inside were the fireplaces and they were similar in all the houses.”

Islands, as well as ruins, have long intrigued him.

“I’ve been pulled to islands since I did work in Malta in the late 1980s,” he says, referring to a group of local artists including Jay Murphy, Brian Bourke, John Behan and Vicky Crowley, who visited Malta as part of the group Island Connection.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Homemade Wimbledon is a different bale game!

Francis Farragher

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James Craughwell about to serve over the tape – and the sheep gates – to brother Christopher with mum, Anne, in the background. The family dog Prince is showing a keen interest in taking up the role of ‘ball boy’. The brollies on the deck chairs were actually purchased at the Wimbledon tournament that the Craughwells attended in 2017.

WIMBLEDON mightn’t be happening for the tennis professionals this year due to COVID-19 – but one North Galway family are planning their own version of the tournament.

The younger members of the Craughwell family in Menlough village have had a tradition over the years of lining out their own court on the silage slab that’s available for recreation purposes during the early weeks of the Summer.

The three sons of Jarlath and Anne Craughwell – Christopher, Shane and James – rarely missed the opportunity through the years to ‘get the silage slab ready’ for their own Wimbledon tournament.

“The dimensions of the silage slab are almost exactly the same as a tennis court [78 feet X 36 feet} so back the years we always organised our own games. When the silage was made, then that was always it for another year,” Christopher Craughwell told the Connacht Tribune.

As the lads grew older the summer tennis court hadn’t been used for a few years but in 2020 with the introduction of the coronavirus restrictions, it seemed like a perfect time to bring it back.

“This year we took it a stage further. We used the sheep gates for the net with a line of white electric fence tape along the top so this is probably the best job we’ve ever made of it.

“The silage won’t be made for at least another month so were planning to stage our own family tournament over the coming weeks. With the weather so good, it’s been a great way to pass the time,” said Christopher.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

City Council houses Travellers in county

Declan Tierney

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Cllr Donagh Killilea.

Galway City Council will spend close to half a million euro to house a Traveller family – in a property well outside its own local authority boundary.

Instead the family of four, who previously lived on the Carrabrowne halting site, will be accommodated in the house at Kiltulla near Carnmore, which is deep in Galway County Council’s local government area.

The City Council is understood to have paid €388,000 for the property which will require another €50,000 to refurbish – leaving little change out of half a million euro.

Angry residents, who were unaware of the plan, have now organised a petition to City Council CEO Brendan McGrath to voice their objection to the move.

But Cllr Donagh Killilea believes that there is a bigger issue at stake – with Galway City Council acquiring property wherever they like.

And Senator Ollie Crowe said that he believed the City Council – of which he was a member up to his Seanad election – should be acquiring property within their own area and that this acquisition was ‘unprecedented’.

He said that it was his view that there would be nothing bought outside the city boundary and that the money spent on this property would refurbish a lot of the City Council’s housing stock that had fallen into a state of dilapidation.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Long drives still out of bounds for golfers

Declan Tierney

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Teeing off from the 12th tee at Galway Bay Golf Resort in Oranmore this week on the re-opening of golf courses around the country. There is nothing to suggest that any golfers travelled more than 5km to play in Oranmore. Photo: Keith Kelly.

This week’s relaxation of travel restrictions saw an exodus to the garden centres and the golf courses – but Gardaí have this week reiterated their warning to those planning to excede their five kilometre limit that they may find themselves in the heavy rough.

The first phase of a return to ‘normality’ went to plan, despite the early rush to newly reopened facilities. Even the rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of furloughed golfers, who were on the first tee from daylight.

Time sheets for golf clubs across the county were choc-a-bloc as they opened their doors to members for the first time since the end of March – but many clubs privately admitted that more than half of those who played had travelled way beyond the 5k restriction.

That led Gardaí to warn that they will be mounting checkpoints and turning people back home – adding that the golf clubs themselves have a responsibility to advise members on the travel rules.

Tuam Sergeant Pat Hastings confirmed that Gardaí had the power under the Health Preservation and Protection Act 2020 to turn back individuals travelling more than 5k from their homes.

He warned that a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with anyone who continually breached the regulations.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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