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Connacht Tribune

Cousins reunited after 200 years




by Ken Kelly

A single phone call to an East Galway man from the Loughrea-based volunteer group that helps those of Irish heritage to find their roots opened up a family history that was lost for almost 200 years.

It all began in 2013 when a member of a group of American visitors picked up a leaflet in a Midlands Hotel, explaining the aims of the Loughrea-based Diaspora organisation, Ireland Reaching Out.

The visitor in question was Margaret Burk, formerly Curley, who believed her ancestors emigrated to the USA in the 1800’s from somewhere in Galway.

Armed with a few snippets of information, she contacted the Loughrea Office and established that her great-grandparents were from Clontuskert and Killimor in East Galway, and had gone to Indiana in the USA in the 1850’s.

Then a phone call to Frank Curley in Ballagh, Clontuskert seeking his help resulted in him and Margaret Burk, with her husband Don, meeting up.

They visited Clontuskert Cemetery where the gravestone inscriptions tallied with her meagre history of her ancestors.

Then further research revealed that Malachy Curley from Ballagh, Clontuskert and his wife Brigid (McClearn) from Killimor, together with their ten children – four boys and six girls – settled on a farm in Terre Haute, Indiana in the late 1850’s.

The story took an ironic twist when it was discovered that Brigid was a great-grand aunt of Frank’s wife, Maura (McClearn) also from Killimor.

Baptismal records showed that some of Malachy and Brigid’s children were baptised in Clontuskert and some in Killimor.

With the family complete, they left in stages for Indiana where Malachy’s brother Patrick and sister Anne had already gone. They set up home, got involved in farming but over the years lost touch with “their roots” and relations in Ireland.

Now this amazing family connection thrilled the American couple and they invited Frank and Maura over to Terre Haute to meet their long-lost cousins. It was an emotional trip and an even more emotional reunion.

“We couldn’t believe that after almost two centuries our cousins tracked us down. They were just as excited. We noted they kept the faith of their forefathers, were very much part of the community and are regarded as resilient,” said Frank, praising Ireland Reaching Out in helping to reunite the Curley and McClearn families.

Eager to learn more about Ireland and the areas from where their ancestors came, a group of 23 cousins travelled over to East Galway to see the family homesteads, the schools, graveyards, churches and lands where their forefathers were brought up.

They were greeted by 113 Curley/McClearn cousins at a historic family reunion, on the grounds of the old homestead where Malachy Curley was reared and they received a real Cead Mile Failte from the parishioners of Clontuskert when they attended mass, celebrated by family friend, Fr. Anthony Kelly, assisted by Parish Priest, Fr. Michael Finneran in the local church.

“It was a massive undertaking for a couple to rear ten children during the Famine years and finally settle, and continue farming in the US,” said Frank.

“It took 175 years or more to discover our relations, but cousins on both sides of the Atlantic have now vowed to make atones by communicating more frequently as well as having reciprocal visits to their kinfolk.”

Connacht Tribune

Two arrested in Galway over spate of burglaries

Enda Cunningham



Two men in County Galway have been arrested as part of a Garda investigation into a series of burglaries in businesses in Limerick and Tipperary.

As part of the operation, three houses were searched yesterday (Saturday) morning in Co Galway and two men in their 20s were arrested. They were brought to Henry Street and Roxboro Road Garda stations in Limerick, where they were detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.

During the search operation, two vehicles were also seized for technical examination.

The eight burglaries were carried out in the Limerick and Tipperary area in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.

As part of these investigations, an operation was put in place by detective Gardaí from Henry Street Garda station with the assistance of the Armed Support Unit in the Western Region and Gardaí from Tipperary, Limerick and Galway.

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Connacht Tribune

Branar reaching for skies at former airport

Judy Murphy



Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí.

Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.

Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.

The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.

At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.

“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.

At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions.  Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.

Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.

And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.

Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.

Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory

John McIntyre



Corofin's Colin Brady is tackled by Paul Kerrigan of Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club semi-final. The reigning champions face Kilcoo of Down in Sunday's showdown at Croke Park.

IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.

Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.

It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.

Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.

It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.

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