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Connacht Tribune

Connemara native celebrates 100th birthday with reflections on a life well lived

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While she has lived through a whole series of life-changing events over the past century, a Connemara woman had her feet firmly on the ground and focused her attention on making the world a better place for those that were important to her.

And as sprightly Maura Joyce from Maam Valley celebrated her 100th birthday this week, she reflected on a fulfilling life that naturally had its ups and downs along the way but overall the centenarian has some fond memories which she regularly shares with family and friends.

She was delighted to be the centre of attention, surrounded by her three daughters and extended family for the occasion of her birthday which took place at her daughter Joan Shine’s house in Claregalway where Maura now resides.

Maura was born on September 28 1921 to John and Anne King and reared in Raigha in Maam Valley along with her two older brothers Micheál and Seán.

She remembers a very happy childhood as her parents owned the local shop and often spoke about the way her mother ran the store and how she was a great businesswoman as well as being a wonderful housekeeper.

Her father ran the farm and was also a shoemaker, making and mending boots and shoes for all in the neighbouring villages.

She said he was the kindest man that anyone could ever meet – and she remembers how, if people were too poor to pay, he just took whatever they could give or didn’t charge them at all.

Having attended school in Tiernakill NS in Maam, Maura loved history and geography and her daughters say that she had the most beautiful handwriting.

It was Maura who transcribed all the Irish stories, gathered from the local area by the school children, for the National Folklore Collection, the originals of which are currently stored in UCD.

After her brothers left home to work in post offices in different parts of the country, she attended the Rural Domestic Economy School in Clifden in 1938 and to the Munster Institute in Cork in 1940 to train for what would eventually be Domestic Science teaching.

However, within a short time, her father became unwell and she came back to Raigha to help run the shop and farm. He passed away a few years later from what would now be a treatable disease, high blood pressure.

During her teenage years and into her twenties, she spoke about being in the Irish Red Cross and how everyone cycled everywhere at the time. She thought nothing of cycling to Westport or Claremorris and if she got a puncture, someone would always come along and help.

Maura was in her early thirties when she married Jack Joyce, who played the violin and sang at the dances while he also played the organ in the church.

“Imagine, he used to come into the shop from when he was 14 years old and I never thought that he was the one I would marry,” she said.

Daughter Ann Hughes, who is married to Pat and lives in Roscahill, described him as the nicest man and the best father anyone could ask for.

Maura and Jack were living in the old house with her mother when they had their first two children, Marian (now Marian Halpenny, married to Pat and living in Meath) and Joan (married to Mike Shine in Claregalway).

By the time Ann was born, they had moved into a new house, most of which was built by their father Jack. Maura often recalled the excitement of having electricity for the first time.

“Dad was working full time in the forestry, and they still had a small farm. We could not have grown up in a happier home,” Ann said.

Family meant everything to Maura. She cooked and baked and produced the most delicious dinners using the fresh ingredients from her garden.

During summers, the family had lots of visitors – and no matter how busy Maura was with the hay and turf, she always made time to cater for them too.

By the time her children finished their education and left home to work, Maura cared for her own mother who lived to the grand old age of 98.

Maura and Jack were proud to attend the weddings of their three daughters and were overjoyed when their first grandchild Ronan (Marian’s son) was born. Several years later, granddaughters Linda and Karen (Ann’s children) arrived. Linda Hughes is a meteorologist and a familiar face to television viewers, as one of RTÉ’s weather presenters.

Eventually as they got older, and after much thought, Maura and Jack sold their few acres of land and as they approached their eighties, they made the biggest decision of all when they moved out of their beloved house and went to live in a new apartment that Joan and her husband Mike had built for them adjoining their own home in Cloone, Claregalway.

Jack was still in fairly good health, and they had a few enjoyable years there before he passed away when he was 85. They were over 50 years married and Maura was broken-hearted and talked about him constantly as she missed him so much.

But she was strong and had great faith and by the time she celebrated her 90th birthday, she had two great grandchildren, Harry and Holly and thinks the world of them.

When she was 91, she broke her hip, had to have an operation and spent weeks learning to walk again. Her determination saw her through despite the fact that she required a walking aid.

She has suffered a number of health problems since then but still read newspapers and magazines while her eyesight allowed. Now, she likes to watch the news and does her best to keep up with what is going on in the world.

Maura still has a great interest in people and loves to stay in touch with her relations, her neighbours and her old friends from Maam.

Connacht Tribune

Galway’s snaring of Shefflin is riveting tale of the unexpected

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Galway's new hurling manager Henry Shefflin in action against the Tribesmen's David Collins during his legendary playing career with Kilkenny.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

The process took over a fortnight longer than expected, there were many twists and turns, but Galway hurling eventually got their man – and what a spectacular coup it represents.

How Galway ended up snaring Henry Shefflin as their new senior team manager was hardly straight forward, but the appointment of the Kilkenny legend to succeed Shane O’Neill has energised the county’s hurling heartlands.

That appeared an unlikely scenario over two weeks ago when the Galway Hurling Committee Chairman Paul Bellew – addressing a specially convened meeting of club delegates in the Lough Rea Hotel – spelt out how the search for a new hurling supremo had stalled. They would have to start all over again.

With the bush telegraph and social media going into overdrive with some wildly inaccurate commentary and a vacuum in terms of reliable information, Galway had to now move quickly to retake control of the situation and quell rising discontent.

But few anticipated that, within ten days, the county would have enticed the sport’s most decorated player to come West, especially a man whose allegiance to Kilkenny has been without compromise and was already perceived as Brian Cody’s successor in the Noreside dug out.

When Galway had begun their quest to fill the managerial vacancy, the initial scouting led to four candidates emerging – former boss Micheál Donoghue, outgoing minor supremo Brian Hanley, an external former inter-county manager (not Davy Fitzgerald) and a local coach who didn’t have a big profile and withdrew from the race within 48 hours.

Family reasons prevented the ‘outsider’ from getting involved, while Hanley found it difficult to commit to the selection process with Donoghue’s shadow hanging over events. In the end, officials never even got to the negotiating stage with Donoghue who opted out due to a combination of family responsibilities and the timing of a possible return to the Galway sideline.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

That’s the spirit!

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Roy enjoys one glass of whiskey every night before bed and only one, he stresses. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Lifestyle – Roy Court, born in Scotland and living in Craughwell, dedicated his career to improving the process of distilling spirits, especially whiskey. His job took him all over the world and involved a stint with the UN. His new book explains what’s involved in creating a great whiskey and is based on skills he gained during more than half a century in the business. He talks to STEPHEN GLENNON.

If there is one thing that Roy Court knows about, it is what constitutes a good whiskey. So much so, he has written a book about it called How We Put An ‘e’ in Whiskey.

A native of Scotland, Roy, who worked as a chief chemist for William Grant & Sons and as a development distiller for John Jameson & Sons (later Irish Distillers) moved to Ireland in 1965. He has spent the last 40 years in the West of Ireland.

Sitting in his home in Craughwell, alongside his daughter Ruth, who has followed in his footsteps into brewing and distilling, the 84-year-old reflects on a career that took him all over the world.

Born in 1937, Roy began his journey as a laboratory assistant in Scotland with the Distillers Company Limited (DCL) – based at Menstrie, near Alloa – in 1955. He also attended third- level education on a part-time basis, qualifying as a research chemist.

“It (the laboratory) was the old Glenochil Distillery, at which my grandfather had been one of the excise officers,” he explains. “The distillery was closed many years and they had it converted to a yeast factory, but, onsite, they had various laboratories because it was part of the distillers’ company.”

The scientific work for the five main grain distilleries was centralised in these laboratories, and Roy’s duties included measuring the moisture content in maize and malt, along with malt analysis.

Through his studies, Roy identified a better way to speed up kilning in the malting process.

“I had the idea that when the water was evaporating, it actually holds down the temperature. So, what you should do is hit it with a lot of heat at first, get rid of the excess water, and then slow it down.

“Anyway, the company took this on and I was sent to the various maltings to supervise doing that, which resulted in them increasing their production.”

In the whiskey industry (whiskey is spelled without the ‘e’ in Scotland), Roy became hot property and was offered a job with Associated British Maltsters in England. He spent three years with them before he was head-hunted by Scottish firm William Grant & Sons and became their chief chemist in a new distillery in Girvan in South Ayrshire.

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

Familiar foes are set for intriguing senior decider

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Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s Claire Dunleavey and Claregalway's Charlotte Cooney in action during the 2019 Galway senior ladies football final in Milltown. The clubs meet in the decider for the third consecutive year on Saturday.

By Ivan Smyth

IT will be a case of familiar foes meeting when Kilkerrin/Clonberne and Claregalway square off in the county final in Annaghdown on Saturday (4pm). Willie Ward’s all conquering Kilkerrin/Clonberne side will be aiming to win their ninth county title in a row, but they come up against a Claregalway outfit who drew with them in the group stages of this year’s championship.

The sides will meet in the county final for the third year running and the fifth time in seven years. Last year’s decider ended in a nine point win for Kilkerrin/Clonberne, although the victory margin slightly flattered the champions. Claregalway manager Eugene Kearney is aware of the difficult task his side faces when they come up against this all conquering Kilkerrin/Clonberne outfit.

“We are well used to the opposition and we are looking forward to taking them on. We have a huge task ahead of us. We are under no illusions to the size of the task we face. In terms of preparation, we have tried to improve ourselves in the year since. We are just focused on our own dressing room and our own players. We are trying to improve the mindset and show we can achieve with Kilkerrin/Clonberne have.”

Kearney’s charges will be monitoring the fitness of Ciara Burke who is suffering with a hamstring issue. His side have impressed in this year’s competition remaining unbeaten, while drawing with Saturday’s opponents in the group stage. They ruthlessly put Corofin to the sword in the last four, prevailing by 5-17 to 2-5.

“If you stand still you are going backwards so that’s why we aren’t going through the motions in any game. We’ve had a full squad since the Coen Cup finished up so we have been able to work together and improve game by game. We are under no illusions to the size of the task. I’m quietly confident in this squad’s ability, but it will all come down to who is better on the day.”

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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