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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

SMEs set their sights on Euro expansion

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Kevin Moran of IMS Marketing accepting the ‘Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development, with Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon and Nan Gou, Programme Director, ESMT Berlin.

Irish entrepreneurs have the skills, products and services to break down barriers across Europe, according to one Galway-based marketing agency that is helping SMEs enter new markets.

Kevin Moran, Managing Director of IMS Marketing in Galway, said that this creativity and enthusiasm allows Irish entrepreneurs to punch above their weight in new markets.

He was speaking after his IMS Marketing was honoured for its ‘Enter-the-Eurozone’ Programme which has helped 19 SMEs break into Europe.

And he urged all SMEs to continue to set their ambitions on export markets as we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions and revisit the challenges of Brexit.

Mr Moran said that IMS Marketing, along with its partners, Enterprise Ireland and ESMT Berlin, was delighted to receive the Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development.

“The vision for the ‘Enter the Eurozone’ Programme was to enable progressive Irish SMEs  to enter a new Eurozone market in a strategically led way,” he said.

“Export markets will be more important than ever for Irish companies and jobs as they now face the twin threat of Brexit and a post Covid19 economic recession.”

Accepting the Award’ from the EFMD, Mr Moran said that his company witnessed the strength of the Irish SME sector during the delivery of the award-winning ‘Enter the Eurozone’ programme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Businesses miss out on restart grant

Stephen Corrigan

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Mr. Kenneth Deery. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure
CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery

Just one-third of Galway business eligible for the Government’s Restart Grant have actually applied for the scheme which aims to bolster small enterprise as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

It was revealed this week that businesses in Galway City and County have received almost €4.5 million in grant aid under the scheme which offers grants of between €2,000 and €10,000 to commercial rates-liable enterprises.

To qualify for the €250 million scheme, businesses must have an annual turnover of less than €5 million; have 50 or fewer employee; and have a projected loss of revenue of 25% or more.

CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery said there were many Galway businesses that had yet to apply for the grants, despite the fact that they were entitled to do so.

Only around 1,100 of the about 3,000 businesses in the city and county that may be due a pay-out have applied, and confusion over eligibility was contributing to that issue, he explained.

“Some businesses are of the view that they’re not eligible, but they need to realise that even if they only paid €500 or €1,000 in rates in 2019, they could still be eligible for €2,000,” he said.

Those who were in rates arrears were also entitled to the grant, said Mr Deery, adding that as long as a business had a rates liability in 2019, they could apply for the grant.

“The payment have just started being paid out to those who applied about two months ago, so it has been slow in terms of progressing those applications.

“What I would be saying to small businesses is that they would need to sell a lot of cups of coffee or a lot of sandwiches to make €2,000 or €5,000 in profit,” said Mr Deery.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Galway embraces Mass changes

Stephen Corrigan

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Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford wearing a mask during the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Kinvara, on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Parishioners in Kinvara made a long-awaited return to weekend services on Saturday at St Joseph’s Church, and while it was far from business as usual, mass-goers expressed delight at their return to the church.

Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford said while there were necessary changes to what people would be accustomed to, the congregation was understanding of why that was necessary and thankful that the implementation of these measures meant they could return to services after a four-month absence.

As part of Phase 3 of the easing of restrictions, services of up to 50 people were allowed, and to respect physical distancing, that meant two seats in every three were blocked off, said Fr Hugh.

“Households can sit together, but at the moment, we have the limit of 50 people, but we hope that will change in the next phase. We have to advise people who are more vulnerable that they should consider staying at home for the time being,” he explained.

The obligation to attend Mass has been lifted since the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, continued Fr Hugh, meaning that people need not worry if they are unable to attend.

For the Eucharist, the Priest and Eucharistic Ministers wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser to ensure there is no cross-contamination, with Communion administered to people in their seats, said Fr Hugh.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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