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Connacht Tribune

Crystal ball-gazing through political smoke and mirrors




Donald Trump...D-Day has arrived at last.

World of Politics with Harry McGee –

The problem with the future is it hasn’t happened yet – and still we persist in taking out our precise scientific instruments, our high-powered computers, our algorithms and calculations and predict what’s going to happen later this year.

So what’s on the agenda for 2017? A general election? Putin invading the Baltics? China going broke? Civil war in Turkey? Marianne le Pen becoming President of France? Ruth Coppinger cracking a joke in the Dáil?

The only possible way to respond to that is to use the great catchall West Kerry expression, “Ni Fheadar”. Rough translated it means “I don’t know and I don’t really particularly care.”

Politics is often the playing pitch where the expected gives way to the bizarre – as we saw last year with Donald Trump and with Brexit.

Can we see more of it this year? Of course we can.

Everybody has been predicting a general election here but it may not happen. Nobody predicted an election in the north and that’s what we have been lumbered with. Only ten months after the last election.

The DUP and Sinn Féin have jointly ruled the roost for ten years but their support has arguably waned a bit.

The paradox is, if there has been a drop it will be halted, and perhaps even reversed in this election, despite both bearing responsibilities for the Assembly crashing to a halt.

The DUP is primarily responsible for the crisis because of its disastrous renewable heat incentive with its crazy grants.

The wanton waste of public money has caused ripples of anger across the North, even among its supporters, and has damaged the party.

On the other side of the coin, did Sinn Féin run home with the ball on too soft a pretext?

The DUP could have walked during the Jean McConville controversy or the sex abuse allegations that arose within republicanism but chose not to. Why did Sinn Féin not hold out for a public inquiry instead and why did make an issue of the (stricly unrelated) Irish language Léargas grant?

This crisis wasn’t about equality; it was about governance.

Both parties have powerful motivations. Many suspect that Sinn Féin saw straws in the wind (with the help of poll data) suggesting this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to grasp the big prize and become the largest party in the North.

The knowledge that this will probably be Martin McGuinness’s last time leading the party into an Assembly election will be a powerful galvanising force.

For the DUP, the negative will be the imperative. Put us in to keep them out. It might not work and not alone might we see direct rule but also a unionist party being relegated into second place.

So much for Theresa May being a Remainer. She delivered a speech on Brexit this week that confirmed that Breixit will be as hard as granite.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.


Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell



Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

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

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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