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Connacht Tribune

Author’s new novel has origins in grandfather’s life story

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A Galway author with a host of top ten bestsellers to her name has turned her hand to historical fiction – in an effort to keep the real life story of her grandfather alive.

Sharon Mulrooney is best known as the author of a string of popular fiction titles, including Daddy’s Girl, Matthew, Meet Matthew and More to Life – but her new novel, A Fine Young Man, is a bit of a departure. 

The Galway city native turned her hand to historical fiction partly because it’s what she loves to read herself – but also because “the story of my grandfather is so incredible I really wanted to make sure it wasn’t lost.”

That grandfather, Herbert MacManus in real life or Bert O’Brien in the book, was born in Dublin but reared in Newcastle upon Tyne from the age of two – speaking only English as his father felt that Irish was “associated with poverty”, explains Sharon.

But when Bert was twelve, he met a native Connemara man who was working in the mines near where he grew up – and this man taught him to speak Connacht Irish fluently in secret.

Herbert MacManus as a 21 year old Timire

While his older brother Leo went to fight in the WW1 trenches in France, Bert was drawn back home to Ireland.

In 1919, when he was only 18 years old, he was one of the early Timirí (messengers), teaching Irish to the National School teachers as part of the language revival movement. They aimed to inspire the next generation of children to love their native language.

It was here that Bert met his wife-to-be, a primary school teacher whom he was teaching Irish to. They wed in 1924.

The story follows him as he dodges Black and Tan patrols, carrying messages for the Volunteers as they never suspected a man with an English accent to be teaching Irish in secret.

He became one of the first people to join the Garda Síochána and served in the Guards for nearly 40 years, ultimately becoming the Chief Superintendent of the Gardaí in Galway and overseeing the visit of President Kennedy in 1963 before he retired.

“Because he spoke Irish he got promoted really quickly,” Sharon says.

He spent the latter half of his career in Galway responsible for the whole area out to Clifden.

Although the story is based on him, Sharon gives herself a lot of “poetic license” with fictional stories and characters – but she says the “main strands” of the story were told to her father by her grandfather while they were fishing on Lough Corrib in the 1950’s.

The timing of this novel coincides with Blian na Gaeilge, a celebration of the Irish language using five themes: the revival of the language over the last 125 years, the creativity of the language, the vibrancy of the language, the participation of the community and finally, the value of our Gaeltachtaí.

Bert at 87

It also marks 125 years of Conradh na Gaeilge, the social and cultural or ganisation which promotes the Irish language in Ireland and worldwide.

Sharon was born and raised in Galway, attended Salerno Secondary School and continued to study in the old Galway RTC, now GMIT.

After graduation, she moved to London where she now lives with her husband and teenage children – but she often goes home to Galway as her parents live in Barna.

Set during the turbulent times of 1914 to 1939, ‘A Fine Young Man’ is published by Poolbeg Press, and is available in paperback or on Amazon Kindle.

Connacht Tribune

Time and history conferred character on this home

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The Hermitage, Ballymoe: on the market with a €425,000 guide price.

The Hermitage at Lisnageeragh, Ballymoe is a property on which time and history has conferred a character that no new property could mirror.

Overlooking 16.3 acres of rolling green fields which are included in the sale, this is indeed a unique house and comes to market with charming well maintained stone buildings. These could provide further family accommodation, holiday rentals or craft studios.

The front hall has a beautiful, curved window and leads to two reception rooms on either side of the house. The sitting room has an open fireplace with a black cast iron surround and wooden floors which gleam from years of care and reflect the light coming from two large windows. To the right-hand side, the dining room also has an attractive bay window and an oil-fired stove and it is indeed the perfect social /entertaining space.

To the rear of the house the kitchen is a classic example of a successful marriage of the old and the new. Bespoke shaker style units combine perfectly with modern recessed lighting, attractive tiling and includes a pantry area to one side. A good-sized bedroom and adjacent bathroom complete the downstairs of the main house.

Upstairs there are four bedrooms one of which has an en suite shower. The main bedroom is a delightful space which leads to another small room, a perfect nursery or walk in wardrobe.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

A time when we learned once more that no man is an island

Francis Farragher

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Country singer Dolly Parton getting the jab: she sang about it and part-funded research on the vaccine.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

One of the oft-repeated pub jokes whenever the price drink was increased, whether it by Finance Ministers or publicans who felt that their margins were being whittled away, was that: “As long as it doesn’t get scarce, we’ll be happy enough.”

Who could have believed though in the first month or two of 2020 that this scenario would unfold (at least in pubs), where the opportunity to meet friends – and the odd ‘auld enemy’ too – over a couple of pints in the local bar would be snatched away from us?

We probably have learned to adapt to the reality of the pandemic and most of us will remember the real sense of fear and constriction that pervaded our every word and action early last year.

2020 was the universal version of ‘annus horribilis’ – the term made famous by Queen Elizabeth in 1992 when royal marriages started to collapse like cards houses in the breeze.

Being of rural stock, I loved the little video earlier this from country music icon, Dolly Parton, who adapted a verse of her famous Jolene song to mark her first shot of the Moderna vaccine (she also donated $1 million to its research) in a very sincere effort to try and encourage the general public to get inoculated.

“Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

I’m begging of you not to hesitate,

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

Cause when you’re dead that’s a bit too late.”

A year before that, times were indeed very strange across Ireland and indeed the world. I remember on the Sunday night before St. Patrick’s Day when a sense of incredulity greeted the news in my own local that ‘a lot of the pubs in Galway city were closing down’. Surely, this couldn’t happen in our own little watering hole in the sticks, but it did.

Michael Karmen’s soundtrack from the Band of Brothers series – a wonder piece of music even to my untrained ear – will always remind me of that early Spring period of lockdown in 2020.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

€4.5m worth of property sold during online event

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This detached house at Seacrest in Knocknacarra attracted a "staggering" level of interest.

More than €4.5 million worth of sales were recorded at the O’Donnellan & Joyce auction last week, where 350 people had pre-registered to bid on the 40 properties which went under the hammer.

80% of the properties sold during the auction or following negotiations immediately afterwards.

Among the properties sold at the auction were:

106 Seacrest, Knocknacarra, Galway. Guiding at €250,000 due to the extent of renovation and upgrade works required, the auctioneers were staggered at the level of interest in this 4-bed detached house.

Siobhra Hennessy, Senior Auction Co-Ordinator, said: “There is an increasing demand for city centre homes in need of repair. Couples want to put their own stamp on a property and often look for properties similar to this.”

Bidding commenced at €250,000 but quickly rose to over €350,000. After intense bidding from a number of internet and telephone bidders, the sale price of €364,000 was reached and the deal was done.

192 Bohermore, Galway. A 2-bed terraced house which attracted great attention, with many enquiries and bidders pre-registering. The house needs complete restoration and modernisation works but obviously appealed to a wide audience. It guided at €120,000, but sold for €179,000, despite the great amount of work required. Again, this is an example of a near-derelict building that offered great potential.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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