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Connemara’s ‘wild west’ through lens of camera

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The bleakness and beauty of Connemara combined.

Lifestyle – Judy Murphy talks to Mark Joyce who has captured hidden gems in photography book

When Mark Joyce looks out the back door of his Recess home, there is wilderness as far as the eye can see. Mountains, lake and bogland offer a huge variety of colours and shadows, depending on the day and even the time of the day.

Seeing your home place through fresh eyes isn’t always easy, but for Mark who has long been fascinated by photography this landscape is a delight.

He has captured these views and a whole lot more in his first ever book, a photography collection, A Portrait of Connemara.

The beautifully produced book contains some 150 photographs capturing many aspects of this diverse place, from the scenery to the people. And while the obvious landscapes and buildings are present, there are many hidden gems too – such as the the saddle of a Brooks bicycle, the rural post box in Glinsk, and a pile of scattered bones on Omey Island.

“I’ve been taking photos forever,” says Mark who is the fourth generation of his family to run the well-known Joyce’s gift shop in Recess.

As a child he had always wanted to work in film, so after finishing school – in pre-Google days – he went through the telephone directory and found all the film-related businesses in Galway. He wrote to them and hit the jackpot when the city-based Film Resource Centre offered him work, doing advertising, design and “a bit of everything”.

Then he went to Dún Laoghaire College of Art and Design where he studied model-making and special effects for film. That was his first serious introduction to photography, he says, and it became a serious hobby.

After college, Mark joined the Roger Corman Studios in Baile na hAbhainn for several years and also worked on several feature films in Dublin and England as a freelancer.

When his mother became ill one summer, he returned to Recess to run the family business. It was meant to be a temporary measure for the then 24-year-old.

“But I loved it, and made my parents an offer and I’ve been there ever since,” he explains. Mark is married to local woman, Kathleen Davis, a ceramic artist from Inishnee. They first met at secondary school in Clifden, and got together as a couple after they both moved back to the area after their time elsewhere. They now have two daughters, Sadie and Alice.

Running the shop is a seasonal business, so it’s ideal for Mark.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

US basketball champion boasts impeccable Galway roots

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Galway roots...Pat Connaughton.

An Irish American basketball player with impeccable Galway roots helped end a 50-year NBA famine for the Milwaukee Bucks last week.

Boston-born Pat Connaughton, whose grandparents hail from Clostoken, Loughrea, played a pivotal part in his side clinching the NBA championship final series over the Phoenix Suns.

The 6ft 5in shoot guard was involved in all six games of the final series, including the last, which the Bucks won 105-98.

Afterwards, the 28-year-old said: “It’s incredible. The fans supported us through thick and thin. They’ve had our backs. To be able to do it and to win it and to be able to call ourselves World champions in front of our own fans . . . it’s incredible. The city of Milwaukee deserves it and I’m just proud that I could be a part of a team, with my teammates, that gave it to them.”

One of his cousins in Loughrea, Madeleine Connaughton, told the Connacht Tribune that his relations in Galway were incredibly proud of his achievement.

“It’s absolutely brilliant; he’s a celebrity in our eyes because he has done so well,” said Madeleine.

“It’s brilliant that Pat is flying the flag for us over there. He was the only person to play both professionally, baseball and basketball with Notre Dame. He was as good a baseball player as basketball and had to choose.”

Madeleine joked that there ‘is a clatter of us’ in Loughrea related to Pat Connaughton, including the Connaughtons, Tierneys, Keanes and Burkes.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway duo make sporting history as out first Olympic medallists

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Ireland rowers (from left) Aifric Keogh from Furbo, Eimear Lambe from Dublin, Fiona Murtagh from Moycullen and Emily Hegarty from Cork celebrate on the podium with their Olympic bronze medals after the Women's Four final at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The motto of the Ireland Women’s Coxless Four team, which includes Galway’s first ever Olympic medallists, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh, has been drilled into them by coach Giuseppe De Vita: ‘Winter miles makes Summer smiles.’

At twenty-three minutes past two on Wednesday morning Irish time, during the Tokyo Olympic medal presentation ceremony at a windswept Sea Forest Waterway, the rowing quartet’s smiles beamed from ear-to-ear.

It was a testament to the hard graft they’ve put into the sport over many years, especially the past 18 months, and the last eight weeks in particular in the build-up to the biggest six minutes of their careers to date.

Keogh (29) from Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, Fiona Murtagh (26) from Gortachalla in Moycullen, and Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty were well entitled to smile after a remarkable rowing performance that earned them bronze medals in the Women’s Fours Final.

As they presented each other with their medals, in keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, and waved their bouquets into the air, back home, their smiles lit up the television and computer screens in living rooms of their family, friends and new legion of fans throughout the land.

It was a history-making feat – Galway’s first Olympic medallists, Ireland’s first women rowers to win Olympic medals, and the nation’s first at Tokyo 2020.

Both women were ecstatic afterwards as they spoke with the Connacht Tribune via Zoom from the media centre in the Olympic Village.

Read the full interview with Galway’s Olympic heroes in today’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie   

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Connacht Tribune

Olympic dream comes true for Galway sprinting star

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Cillín Greene's parents Sinead and Cole and sisters Iarlaith (left) and Miriam above the Olympic flag on the Nine Arches in Claregalway. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It was March, 2019 when the Olympic dream of Cillín Greene went up in smoke – or so everyone thought.

On day one of the European Indoor championships in Glasgow, the Claregalway sprinter was progressing nicely in a 400m heat.

He was in lane two, minding his own business, when, all of a sudden, he was ‘bounced’ by a Polish competitor on his inside.

Cillín steadied himself after the collision but was unable to react quick enough to hop over a Czech runner who tumbled in front of him. Both hit the deck. Bad enough that his race was run; worse again, afterwards it emerged he’d sustained a serious injury.

“He was knocked on the track and broke his elbow,” recalled his father, Colman.

“I think it put his whole make-up out of line for a long time. He started pulling hamstrings after that, and things like that. It took a long time to get it right. It’s like a fine-tuned sports car, everything has to be right. Last year, he had a lot of injuries and he wasn’t really going anywhere,” he said.

Glasgow was just over a year out from the Tokyo Olympic Games, and almost certainly wiped his chances of qualification.

But then Covid-19 delayed the Games, giving time to rehab; and the Galway City Harriers clubman worked relentlessly in Lockdown to get back on track.

The result? This Friday, along with another Galway man, Robert McDonnell (19) from Knocknacarra, 23-year-old Cillín Greene will become an Olympian when he competes in the mixed 4x400m relay heat at the Olympic Stadium at 12 noon Irish time.

See the full story – and comprehensive Olympic coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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