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Cathy set to light up Arts Festival in Matchbox

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First flight of the SkyWhale, over Mt Arapilies, Western Victoria, Australia. Image courtesy ACT Government / Centenary of Canberra.

Lifestyle – Judy Murphy previews the exciting line-up of the Galway Arts festival including homecoming of local actor

She’s one of Ireland’s finest actors, who regularly graces the stage of the Abbey Theatre, has appeared in films such as Philomena and is currently working on TV3’s much praised series Red Rock.

Now Galway City woman Cathy Belton will make her Arts Festival debut this July in Frank McGuinness’s one-woman show The Matchbox, which is being directed by Joan Sheehy. This Festival production marks the Irish premiere of The Matchbox, which was first staged in Liverpool Playhouse in 2012 when critics described it as ‘compelling’ and ‘sharply and simply involving’.

The Matchbox, about a mother’s desire for revenge on the people who have killed her child, will run for the duration of the two-week Festival, explains the event’s director Paul Fahy. Frank McGuinness draws on ancient Greek tragedy for this play, set on Valentia Island and based around events which occurred in Liverpool 12 years previously.

“I couldn’t put the play down,” says Cathy Belton of this story about a smart young woman of Irish extraction who sees her future changed by an early and unplanned pregnancy. She copes well with what life throws at her – until her daughter is gunned down. That tragedy gives rise to her actions as “she moves through bereavement into something else”, explains Cathy.

The Matchbox is being directed by director, writer and actor Joan Sheehy who has worked closely with Frank McGuinness in the past and, says the Arts Festival’s Paul Fahy, “this is the dream team for Frank”.

Far more controversially, from South Africa’s Third World Bunfight comes Exhibit B, which addresses Europe’s colonial past in Africa. Theatre meets installation in Exhibit B at the Black Box as it examines the atrocities which were committed and concealed by European powers in Africa as they colonised the continent in the name of progress. This promenade piece uses the notion of the 19th century freakshow, or human zoo to present 13 different scenes, each with live, motionless, performers who identify themselves as being black. Each performer depicts an example of the suffering that was inflicted on individuals by the European colonisers, continuing right up to the current times and European treatment of immigrants.

Exhibit B, which features a live band from Namibia, has played at festivals all over Europe, winning praise for its unflinching approach to racism and colonialism.

But there have also been protests, amid accusations that this show is racist, and it was forced to close in London’s Barbican Centre last September because of these. However, Brett Bailey of Third World Bunfight, defending the project, said it was made with “love, respect and outrage . . . against the hate of racism”.

Dance will take centre stage at this year’s Festival with the return of the UK based Hofesh Shechter Dance Company. They will present three pieces, Cult, Fragment and Disappearing Act. The final work, Disappearing Act, is completely new while the other two are older pieces which have been reworked, says Paul Fahy. Hofesh Shechter made their Galway Arts Festival debut in 2010 when they presented the powerful show, Political Mother at the Black Box. That’s also the venue this time.

Druid Theatre will host the Irish premiere of Luck Just Kissed you Hello, written by Amy Conroy and presented by Dublin’s HotForTheatre, whose previous work includes I ♥ Alice. This new piece about a transgender character transitioning from male to female is “a funny three-hander”, says Paul Fahy and was presented as an in-development piece at last year’s Dublin Theatre Festival. It will run for the two weeks of the Festival.

Cleggan actor and director Olwen Fouéré, whose one-woman show, Riverrun, has been a hit from London to Adelaide since it premiered at the 2013 Festival, returns with a new show. Lessness was written by Samuel Beckett in 1969, the year he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. This production will fuse theatre and visual arts, and like Riverrun, it will be co-produced by Galway International Arts Festival and the Emergency Room in conjunction with Cusack Productions. It’s opening in London’s Barbican next month as part of the International Beckett Festival and will then come to Galway where it will be at An Taibhdhearc for two weeks.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

The thrill of learning

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Embracing education: Anna Keane who will begin a BA in September; Anne Marie Ward who is doing a part-time degree in Youth, Community and Family Studies; Owen Ward who has a Master’s in Education and works at NUIG; and Jason Sherlock who will embark on a Master’s in International Finance in September. All entered NUIG via its Access Programme.

Lifestyle – Most members of the Travelling community are unlikely to finish secondary education and only a tiny proportion go to university. But for people who want an academic education, NUIG is leading the way. Four keen learners share their stories with JUDY MURPHY, among them post-graduate Owen Ward who works in NUIG’s Access Office, assisting people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Starting third-level education can be daunting for even the most confident teenager. Entering a massive campus, meeting so many new people, trying to figure out timetables, deciding what societies to join and just finding your feet – those early weeks can be a challenge.

That’s how Jason Sherlock felt when the young city man began his degree at NUIG in 2018. A member of the Travelling community, Jason had more reason than most to feel daunted in this educational establishment. According to the 2016 Census, only one percent of Travellers go on to third level – although that has increased slightly since then, thanks to people like Jason and his mentor, Owen Ward, a Programme Coordinator in the university’s Access Office.

Jason, who entered university though the Access Programme, which supports students from ‘non-traditional backgrounds’, will begin studying for a Master’s in International Finance in September, having completed a degree in Economics, Sociology and Political Science.

As we meet on the campus at NUIG on a sunny Friday, he recalls having his photo taken by the Tribune 11 years ago, on his final day at Scoil Bhríde National School in Shantalla, where he had never missed a day.

But university was different. Initially, Jason felt it wasn’t for him and almost dropped out of his course. That’s where Owen Ward appeared. Owen who graduated from NUIG in 2014, having also entered via the Access Programme, was back doing a Master’s in Education.  He heard Jason was on campus and went looking for him among the 18,000 students.

“I didn’t know Jason at the time but I knew his father. And I tracked him down,” he recalls with a laugh. Having done that, he was able to support the younger man in those difficult early days. Jason found his feet and with Owen went on to set up Mincéirs Whiden, a new society at NUIG. The first of its kind in any third-level institution, Mincéirs Whiden is for Traveller students but is open to all. Members include students from the settled community, Irish and international.

Anne Marie Ward, who is beginning her third year of a part-time degree in Youth, Community and Family Studies, is the incoming chair of Mincéirs Whiden.

She’s also the new Ethnic Minorities Officer for the NUIG Students’ Union, the first member of the Travelling Community to be elected to a position in the student body.  She is Owen’s sister.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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An image of the then walled Salthill Park captured in the 1950s or 1960s.

1921

No show in Mountbellew

We have no doubt that the decision to abandon the Mountbellew Horse and Agricultural Show for 1921 was only arrived at by the committee after full consideration.

Possibly it was unavoidable in the present disturbed state of the country. It is nonetheless regrettable for since that fixture was first established in 1904 it has proved a most valuable factor in promoting agriculture and industries in one of the most extensive and important areas of County Galway.

The show ranked amongst the most important in Ireland. Year by year it extended its usefulness, and its practical value was marked by an increased grant from the County Committee of Agriculture.

For the present season this grant is lost. We may hope that in the happier Ireland of 1922 the show will be revived on a greater and grander scale than ever. The committee closes its accounts this year with a surplus credit of £182, and a record of public service that cannot be gainsaid.

The tribute to Mr. J. Moran upon his laying down of the office of secretary will be cordially supported by all who have had experience of that energetic worker, whose advice and assistance in an honorary capacity will, we hope, still remain at the service of the society.

First aid training

It is a little astonishing that an elementary training in first aid has not formed part of the curriculum of our primary and secondary schools.

Accidents happen in the best regulated families and communities from one cause or another, particularly nowadays because of heavy motor traffic and other causes. If a little knowledge of first aid were more general, a life could, perhaps, be saved if immediate assistance were available pending skilled medical aid.

It is, unfortunately, true that very few people know how to treat temporarily a fractured limb, to stop the bleeding of an artery, or to deal with a patient in case of sudden collapse. Instead of many subjects now taught, some at least of which are but little practical value, all school-going boys and girls should get at least an elementary course in first aid.

It is a desirable and necessary subject which our education authorities should give serious attention, as the training given remains of practical value all through life.

“What greater aim can man attain than conquest over human pain?”

It is a great and privileged gift to be able to bring useful relief to a poor sufferer in an accident – perhaps to staunch ebbing life blood and to save a life. Yet the knowledge could and should be acquired in our national schools.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

A time to appreciate the jewel that is Midsummer

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Peak days in our season of brightness.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

THE other day as a few of us mused about how quickly Midsummer had come upon us, a colleague mentioned how wonderful it would be if this time of year could at least last for a couple of months, rather than slithering by so quickly.

That’s the problem with time: there’s just no holding it back and regardless of what material fortunes we might happen to stumble upon such as a lotto win, no money will buy back one second of time.

While our Irish weather, as always, might be a tad troublesome, there is, on a clear day and night of Midsummer, that wonderful phenomenon where it never gets fully dark. By the time the light of the late summer sun has retreated, the skies never really blacken and by 3am, the shafts of brightness begin to return.

Our Summer Solstice has occurred earlier this week, normally peaking between the 20th and 22nd days of June, but for of us of rural stock, the peak of the season of light was always on June 23 and June 24, the latter being the feast of St. John the Baptist.

The night of June 23 was always one marked by bonfires across the North Galway countryside with trips on donkey and cart made in the week preceding the ‘big evening’ to the local garage, where old tyres would be picked up for the big blaze.

Back then, recycling was a term used for going back to the shop if some vital provision like cigarettes for my mother were forgotten, and there was always a wow factor if an old lorry tyre could be located, sending flames and plumes of smoke to the heavens.

It was always a late night for young and old, but there was never to be any period of rest the morning after, St John’s Day, when the fair of Abbeyknockmoy drew a fair selection of stock and supposedly good buyers from ‘up the country’.

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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