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Clowning around in search of a degree

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Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets some of the people behind the success of Galway Community Circus

There was a time when the idea of a child running away with the circus would fill any parent with dread. Things change. These days it’s possible to study for a degree in circus training and two young men from Galway City are doing just that.

Liam Carmody, who is at the Rivel Circus School in Barcelona and Freddy Burrows who studies at Rotterdam’s Codarts University for the Arts, cut their teeth at Galway Community Circus, which currently has 300 members and more waiting to join, according to its director Ulla Hokkanen.

At the Circus’s headquarters in St Joseph’s Community Centre in the Westside of the City, people of all ages and backgrounds can learn skills from acrobatics and gymnastics to clowning and stilt-walking, with juggling and unicycling thrown in for good measure. There are animals involved – this is all about human skill and creativity.

The Community Circus caters for people from toddler-level up, and has drop-in classes for adults, but this is primarily about young people – 250 of them aged from five to 20.

“What we do is very valuable in the community,” Ulla says. “It’s about using circus as a tool to engage young people and it works. Studies in other countries have shown that.”

Ulla, who is in her early 30s, is a lifelong fan of this art form.  When she was seven, a circus company came to her home town to do a weekend of workshops. Her parents, who were teachers, loved the concept and teamed up with another couple to set up a circus school for young people locally.

Acrobatics, juggling, clowning and mime were a fixture in Ulla’s life for the next 10 years until she went away to university at the age of 17 to study social science. Theirs was a real community circus, she says, with parents being involved as well as children.

“For whatever mad, wild, creative ideas we had as children they worked to make it happen.”

And it’s the same with the Galway Community Circus, where parents play a central role.  Here, in a safe environment, young people can try out their skills, learn, fail sometimes and try again.

“Failure is good in a circus, once it’s done safely,” says Ulla. Young people to become more aware of themselves and the world around them by experimenting with different physical skills, she states.

“How can you use your own body to know your level of comfort without taking risks? You can do things in your own way in a circus, that’s what’s important. And there is always something you can do, whether it’s unicycling, juggling, hula-hoops, clowning or balancing on a globe.”

Ulla first came to Ireland from Finland as an Erasmus student in 2003, attending the University of Limerick. When she graduated from college with her social science degree, she returned and settled in Galway about eight years ago.

Seeking experience in youth and community work, Ulla was attracted by an advert from Galway Community Circus – Ireland’s first dedicated youth circus – seeking volunteers.

She went on to become a tutor and subsequently its director, “a bit of a dream job”. Under her stewardship the Circus has grown significantly and she is passionate about its value to its students and their families.

“I know what it means to be a child who doesn’t fit in with traditional team sport,” she says. “I wasn’t competitive and I was quite shy. The circus – a world where anything is possible and where it’s good to be mad – is a real confidence booster.”

That’s why the focus is primarily on young people, to give them skills and confidence for life.

“We have 25 classes a week in the Community Centre in Shantalla and we have summer camps too. And we travel and do outreach.”

Five years ago 20 children attended the classes, now there are 250 so the demand has grown hugely.

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

Connacht Tribune

Tragic killing of Irish hero

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The wedding of Paddy O’Donohue and Violet Gore, in June 1919. Michael Collins was best man and Mary Healy was bridesmaid. Jack Buckley, a relation of the Whelan family in Shanaglish, is on the ground second from left. A relative of his gave a copy of this photo to Fr Patrick Whelan of St Patrick’s Parish in the city. Mary Healy was also related to the Whelans. The photograph is unusual as Collins is looking directly at the camera; something he avoided during the War of Independence.

Lifestyle – An unusual photo of Michael Collins, taken at a wedding during the War of Independence has strong Galway links. He’s looking straight at the camera, something he rarely did at a time when the British had a price on his head. However, it was his own people who killed Collins, 100 years    ago this month, as historian WILLIAM HENRY recalls.

A photo of Michael Collins, found 90 years after he was killed in an ambush at Béal na Bláth during the Irish Civil War, has family links with Galway.

It’s the wedding photograph of Paddy O’Donohue and Violet Gore who were married in June 1919, with the reception held in the Shelbourne Hotel. Collins was the best man and Mary Healy was bridesmaid.

The young man sitting on the ground second from the right is Jack Buckley. He and Mary Healy were cousins of the  Whelan family from Shanaglish, who have had  pub in south Galway for generations. Well-known city chemist Michael Whelan and PP of St Patrick’s Church in Galway City, Fr Pat Whelan, are members of that family and Fr Whelan was given a copy of the photo by a descendent of Jack Buckley.

The original photo was discovered by writer and broadcaster Dave Kenny in the attic of his Dublin home; it had been gifted to his grandparents by the newly-married couple, who were friends and fellow nationalists.

Violet Gore, a singer, had helped raise funds for the Irish cause through concerts in Ireland and England while Paddy O’Donohue, had been a leading IRA activist in Manchester and was a key figure in Collins’ network. The photograph is unusual because Collins is looking directly at the camera. That’s something  he avoided doing during the War of Independence, as he was a marked man with a bounty on his head.

According to Fr Whelan, the photograph was hung on a wall in the family home after the wedding and although house was raided, the Black and Tans didn’t realise that Ireland’s most wanted man was watching them.

Just a couple of years later, on August 22, 1922, during the Irish Civil War, Michael Collins was killed by his own countrymen in an ambush at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, the county in which he had been born on October 16,1890. He was 31 years old when he died.

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

Greening up the office can aid productivity

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Certain plants are better than others to pick for the office.

Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

I recall when a closely located colleague left our office, she took with her a lovely plant that had been a gift from her late father.  As well as lamenting the loss of a dear workmate, I missed that plant in my sightline for ages.  It was the only bit of greenery on our side of the office that looked out over high grey buildings.

I attempted to grow a plant or two on my desk over the years but nothing lasted. I don’t know was it the aircon in the summer and heat in the winter, but I managed to kill everything green with life.

While working at my kitchen table, I look out over the ivy-clad back shed and a few plants on the patio. From the kitchen window my eyes are drawn to several cherry blossom estates growing sideways in the green as I search for inspiration.

So it was with interest that I read about a new study into biophilic office design, or the act of bringing the outdoors into the work environment to the non-initiated.

Cacti, air plants, succulents and spider plants may be popular ways to brighten up desks and create a greener office space, but there are even more benefits to having plants in the office.

A survey on the topic revealed that plants in the office increase productivity by 15%. When considering air quality, workplace satisfaction and productivity in ‘lean’ offices versus ‘green’ ones, quality of life and productivity increased across the board.

Some 70% of people surveyed said plants helped improve the atmosphere at home and in the office, while 31% said greenery and plants helped them concentrate while working.

We know many people take to gardening to combat stress, so a green workspace can have a similar impact. The study concluded that plants in your home or office can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

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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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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Attendees at the Blessing of Galway Bay on August 15, 1982.

1922

A leader lost

“I have the greatest hope in the Irish people. But what we have got to learn in our public life is the merit of following the unpopular path. We have plenty of physical courage. Moral courage is what we need – and above all, we must develop.”

These words were spoken by President Griffith a few weeks before his death. They were words of inspiration, hope, instruction. They revealed the optimism that carried the man through the gloom of dark years, the discouragements of dangerous days and nights, until at last his bold spirit cleft the clouds, and showed the Irish people light.

They displace as in a flash that optimism that bore him through to triumph, that spirit that inspired all his acts, that courage that held him in the fairway when others wandered into by-paths, and the constructive genius that, had he lived, would have seen an Ireland even in his own day that could stand four-square every wind that blew.

O’Connell has been described as the Irish Liberator, the great tribune of his people. Griffith laid well and truly the foundations of a movement which won a greater triumph than O’Connell.

Local enterprise

Through the commendable enterprise of Mrs. Payne, Cross-street, the people of Athenry are at last provided with an amusement hall in which they can pass away many a pleasant evening.

The hall, the building of which has been recently completed, is a commodious one and can accommodate quite a considerable number. Already a well-known theatrical company has had an engagement at the new hall when there was a magnificent attendance each night – the entertainment being the right thing in the right place.

In a few weeks’ time this company will return with a greatly enlarged array of artistes, when the townspeople will be treated to something they will not forget.

Practice dances will be held on Sunday evenings, and there is a suggestion to secure the services of a qualified teacher of Irish dances to bring up the rising generation with a knowledge of Irish step-dancing.

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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