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Connacht Tribune

Dance and drama fuse to explore legacy of war

Judy Murphy

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Miguel do Vale and Stephen Moynihan in Soldier Still.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Soldier Still, an acclaimed show that explores the impact of war on people’s lives, will be performed at the city’s Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday next, November 6. The work of Junk Ensemble, one of Ireland’s leading dance-theatre groups, it explores the awful legacy of war, based on a series of interviews with current and former soldiers from the Irish Defence Forces, the British Army, and civilians affected by the Bosnian war. The soldiers who shared their stories have been deployed in places from Afghanistan to the Falklands.

Blending movement, text, music and real stories, Soldier Still was first performed at the Dublin Fringe Festival last year, receiving a four-star review from the Irish Times, and went on to play at Belfast International Arts Festival.  It features dancers Miguel do Vale, Lucia Kickham, Julie Koenig and Stephen Moynihan alongside retired Irish Army captain Tom Clonan, whose revelations about bullying and sexual harassment in the Irish Defence Forces led to government action that changed the culture of the Irish army.

“We’re bringing it back a year later and it feels just as pertinent as ever,” says dancer and choreographer Megan Kennedy, who with her twin sister and co-artistic director, Jessica, founded Junk Ensemble in the early 2000s.

The awareness of how war affects soldiers has increased over the decades as conflict has become ever more militarised and deadly.

World War I, with its trench warfare, poison gas and canon shells, marked the dawn of modern warfare and destroyed lives, but at the time, there was no awareness that a condition known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder existed.

The affected soldiers who were described as ‘shell-shocked’, were treated briefly by doctors and sent back out to the battlefields as cannon fodder; their underlying condition untreated.

“They had tics and movements they had that they couldn’t shake off, due to what they had experienced,” says Megan. The stories of these soldiers, who had witnessed such terrible things and realised they no longer fitted in, has informed some of the movement in the show, which explores how trauma “effects itself in a person’s body through movement”, she adds.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer

Denise McNamara

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Ninety-five year old Margaret Kenny was first person to be administered the Covid-19 vaccination Practice Nurse Deirdre Furey at the Surgery Athenry.

On the first anniversary of Covid-19’s deadly arrival into Ireland, the head of the Saolta hospital group has predicted that all who want the vaccine will have received it by the end of the summer.

Tony Canavan, CEO of the seven public hospitals, told the Connacht Tribune that the HSE was planning to set up satellite centres from the main vaccination hub at the Galway Racecourse to vaccinate people on the islands and in the most rural parts of the county.

While locations have not yet been signed up, the HSE was looking at larger buildings with good access that could be used temporarily to carry out the vaccination programme over a short period.

“We do want to reach out to rural parts of the region instead of drawing in people from the likes of Clifden and over from the islands. The plan is to set up satellites from the main centre, sending out small teams out to the likes of Connemara,” he explained.

“Ideally we’d run it as close as possible to the same time that the main centres are operating once that is set up. Communication is key – if people know we’re coming, it will put people’s minds at rest.”

Get all the latest Covid-19 coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway meteorologist enjoying new-found fame in the sun!

Denise McNamara

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Linda Hughes, presenting the RTÉ weather forecast live in studio.

Growing up in Galway where four seasons in a day is considered a soft one, Linda Hughes always had a keen interest in the weather.

But unlike most Irish people, instead of just obsessing about it, she actually went and pursued it as a career.

The latest meteorologist to appear on RTE’s weather forecasts hails from Porridgtown, Oughterard, and brings with her an impressive background in marine forecasting.

She spent six years in Aerospace and Marine International in Aberdeen, Scotland, which provides forecasts for the oil and gas industry.

The 33-year-old was a route analyst responsible for planning routes for global shipping companies. She joined the company after studying experimental physics in NUIG and doing a masters in applied meteorology in Redding in the UK.

“My job was to keep crews safe and not lose cargo by picking the best route to get them to their destination as quickly as possibly but avoiding hurricanes, severe storms,” she explains.

“It was a very interesting job, I really enjoyed it but it was very stressful as you were dealing with bad weather all the time because there’s always bad weather in some part of the world.”

Read the full interview with Linda Hughes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Great-great-grandmother home after Covid, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Quinn...back home after an incredible few months.

Her family are understandably calling her their miracle mum – because an 81 year old great-great-grandmother from Galway has bounced back from Covid-19, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery since Christmas…to return hale and hearty, to her own home.

But Mary Quinn’s family will never forget the trauma of the last three months, as the Woodford woman fought back against all of the odds from a series of catastrophic set-backs.

The drama began when Mary was found with a bleed on her brain on December 16. She was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital, and transferred to Beaumont a day later where she underwent an emergency procedure – only to then suffer a stroke.

To compound the crisis, while in Beaumont, she contracted pneumonia, suffered heart failure and developed COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – the inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

“Christmas without mom; things did not look good,” said her daughter Catherine Shiel.

But the worst was still to come – because before Mary was discharged, she contracted Covid-19.

Read Mary’s full, heart-warming story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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