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Connacht Tribune

Comedian Pat Shortt to show another side to his talents

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Pat Shortt in A Skull in Connemara. “The problem with being a comedian is that you tend to get stereotyped, as if comedy is unrelated to acting," he says. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – Comedian Pat Shortt will show another side to his talents when he takes the lead role as a gravedigger in Martin McDonagh’s play A Skull in Connemara in Galway this Summer. Judy Murphy  reveals that he has more than one string to his bow.

“You’ve something to learn from everybody,” says comedian and actor Pat Shortt. And the former member of the iconic duo, D’Unbelievables, is embarking on a new learning experience in June when he makes his debut with Galway’s Decadent Theatre Company in Martin McDonagh’s play A Skull in Connemara.

Pat is taking the lead role as gravedigger, Mick Dowd in the black comedy which will run at the City’s Town Hall Theatre from June 21-30 with matinees from June 21-23.

Since dropping out of art college in Limerick to become one half of this country’s most successful comedy acts, Pat has gone on to become a highly-regarded stage and screen actor. And, always willing to push himself in new directions, there was also a period as the Saw Doctors’ one-man brass section and a foray into the restaurant business.

He’s currently concluding a successful tour of his comedy show, How’s Tings?, before he hits Galway with his acting hat on. And while he may be new to Decadent Theatre and its director, Andrew Flynn, he’s very familiar with Martin McDonagh’s plays.

Nineteen years ago, Pat and Jon Kenny teamed up for a Druid production of The Lonesome West, directed by Garry Hynes, his first time performing as a stage actor. He was also a new father, so it was a stressful period, he recalls. Pat knew that Hynes had a reputation as a tough director, and while he’d worked in film, his experience on stage had been all with D’Unbelievables.  So, he was full of self-doubt about his ability.

“But we got on great and she never questioned me,” he says with satisfaction.  Martin McDonagh also approved and recommended Pat for the role of Johnnypatteenmike in a 2013 West End production of The Cripple of Inishmaan, directed by Michael Grandage, former Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse. The production, with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, was a massive hit, receiving rave reviews in London and in Broadway where it subsequently transferred. It became the most nominated Tony show ever.

“I’ve heard people say that I’m cut out for Martin’s work and I love the daftness and silliness of it,” Pat says. It has similarities with his own writing style, he feels.

“I tend to go for Irish characters and enlarge them for comic reasons and I feel Martin does that. Then there’s the dialogue and the pattern and the rhythm and I love that, too.”

Pat also believes that the comedy work he and Jon did in D’Unbelievables was similar to acting in many ways, although he’s not sure that’s widely recognised.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!

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Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.

Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.

Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.

The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.

Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.

Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.

“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.

*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune 

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Connacht Tribune

Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison

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A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.

Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.

The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.

A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.

At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.

They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.

Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.

The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.

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Connacht Tribune

Dismay as marine park proposal rejected by planners

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A lifeline project, with the potential to create around 200 long-term jobs in an area of South Connemara ravaged by unemployment and emigration, has been rejected by planners – primarily environmental grounds.
The proposed marine park or Páirc na Mara, east of Cill Chiaráin village, was viewed by many as a real chance to turn the tide for this unemployment blackspot.
Locals – and the vast majority of Galway West politicians – were supportive of the project which was viewed as one that would revitalise the area.
That said, Galway County Council’s decision to refuse permission for the marine park was welcomed by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages which had expressed fears that the marine farm would extract huge amounts of fresh water to breed more than 1.5 million salmon smolts.
They said that millions of litres of fresh water would have been extracted on a regular basis by the salmon farm company operating the smolt rearing units – from the same lakes as the Carna and Cill Chiaráin water supply system.
“Local residents can now rest assured that their domestic water supply won’t be hijacked to line the pockets of people who have no regard for the local environment or residents,” said Billy Smyth, Chairman of Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages.
It was proposed to provide a marine innovation park Pairc na Mara on a 60-acre brownfield site at Cill Chiarain.
The development involves the provision of a number of marine-based facilities as well as education and research facilities in the townlands of Cill Chiarain, Ardmore and Calvary.
It involves the abstraction of water from Lough Scannan, its transfer to and temporary storage in Iron Lake along with impoundment and pumping to the Marine Park site with a rising main.
According to the application, Galway County Council has previously granted planning permission for aquaculture-based activities on the site of the proposed marine park back in 2002 while the first phase of the innovation park was built in 2005.
There were a considerable number of submissions supporting the application with many saying that this part of Connemara would benefit greatly from such a development.
But there were others who expressed concern over the potential impact it would have on the environment, and it would be located in a highly sensitive area.
Cllr Gerry King said that it was a valuable opportunity lost to the area given the amount of unemployment that exists. He added that there was local outrage at the decision.
The Fianna Fail councillor met with those behind the project and residents in support of the project. He said that they all agreed that this decision should be appealed to the higher planning authority.
It was refused on the basis that it would adversely affect the integrity and conservation objectives of the European sides in the vicinity of environmental value.
Planners stated that they could not be certain that the project would not adversely affect the integrity of Cill Ciaran Bay, the islands and Connemara bog complex
They also said that the Environmental Impact Assessment Report did not present a sufficient level of information on the impact it would have on human health, biodiversity, land, soil, water along with cultural heritage and the landscape.

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