The noble art of boxing might be something of an oxymoron to some, given that a good bout involves two skilled pugilists effectively trying the punch the living daylights out of each other – but there is no denying the role it has played in keeping some of his finest away from an alternative, and shadier, path.
That’s reflected in two books of recent vintage with boxing at their core – but with life on the darker side as their considerable backdrop.
One is the story of our own Seán Mannion, the Rosmuc man who fought Mike McCallum for the WBA world light middleweight title on an October night in 1984 in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The Man Who Was Never Knocked Down, wonderfully woven by author and broadcaster Rónán Mac Con Iomaire, isn’t just the story of a man with a dream who accomplished almost all of it.
It is also the tale of the Irish in South Boston where Mannion made his other home, and where boxing and crime were usual bedfellows; where there’s a small step from right to wrong.
That was something that Belfast boxing trainer Gerry Storey also dealt with on a daily basis throughout the darkest days of the Troubles.
But what made Storey a legend outside of the ring as well as within was that – despite coming from a family steeped in Republican roots – he didn’t have a sectarian bone in his body.
Storey’s story is told in a brilliant new book written by the award-winning sports journalist Donald McRae – and like Rónán Mac Con Iomaire’s work, it is so much more than a boxing book.
It’s entitled In Sunshine or in Shadow, after a line from Danny Boy, the song Barry McGuigan chose as an anthem when either of the official ones would have alienated half of his support base. But it’s also a perfect analogy of the light that boxing shone for so many in the darkest of times North of the border.
Read Dave’s full column in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer
On the first anniversary of Covid-19’s deadly arrival into Ireland, the head of the Saolta hospital group has predicted that all who want the vaccine will have received it by the end of the summer.
Tony Canavan, CEO of the seven public hospitals, told the Connacht Tribune that the HSE was planning to set up satellite centres from the main vaccination hub at the Galway Racecourse to vaccinate people on the islands and in the most rural parts of the county.
While locations have not yet been signed up, the HSE was looking at larger buildings with good access that could be used temporarily to carry out the vaccination programme over a short period.
“We do want to reach out to rural parts of the region instead of drawing in people from the likes of Clifden and over from the islands. The plan is to set up satellites from the main centre, sending out small teams out to the likes of Connemara,” he explained.
“Ideally we’d run it as close as possible to the same time that the main centres are operating once that is set up. Communication is key – if people know we’re coming, it will put people’s minds at rest.”
Get all the latest Covid-19 coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Galway meteorologist enjoying new-found fame in the sun!
Growing up in Galway where four seasons in a day is considered a soft one, Linda Hughes always had a keen interest in the weather.
But unlike most Irish people, instead of just obsessing about it, she actually went and pursued it as a career.
The latest meteorologist to appear on RTE’s weather forecasts hails from Porridgtown, Oughterard, and brings with her an impressive background in marine forecasting.
She spent six years in Aerospace and Marine International in Aberdeen, Scotland, which provides forecasts for the oil and gas industry.
The 33-year-old was a route analyst responsible for planning routes for global shipping companies. She joined the company after studying experimental physics in NUIG and doing a masters in applied meteorology in Redding in the UK.
“My job was to keep crews safe and not lose cargo by picking the best route to get them to their destination as quickly as possibly but avoiding hurricanes, severe storms,” she explains.
“It was a very interesting job, I really enjoyed it but it was very stressful as you were dealing with bad weather all the time because there’s always bad weather in some part of the world.”
Read the full interview with Linda Hughes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Great-great-grandmother home after Covid, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery
Her family are understandably calling her their miracle mum – because an 81 year old great-great-grandmother from Galway has bounced back from Covid-19, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery since Christmas…to return hale and hearty, to her own home.
But Mary Quinn’s family will never forget the trauma of the last three months, as the Woodford woman fought back against all of the odds from a series of catastrophic set-backs.
The drama began when Mary was found with a bleed on her brain on December 16. She was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital, and transferred to Beaumont a day later where she underwent an emergency procedure – only to then suffer a stroke.
To compound the crisis, while in Beaumont, she contracted pneumonia, suffered heart failure and developed COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – the inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.
“Christmas without mom; things did not look good,” said her daughter Catherine Shiel.
But the worst was still to come – because before Mary was discharged, she contracted Covid-19.
Read Mary’s full, heart-warming story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie