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Connacht Tribune

Dissidents will not drag the North back to darker times

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A Book of Condolence for murdered journalist Lyra McKee has been opened at City Hall in Galway by Mayor Niall McNelis and will remain open until Friday, May 3. The Mayor is photographed with National Union of Journalists West of Ireland Branch members Stephen Corrigan, Bernie Ní Fhlatharta, Declan Tierney and Judy Murphy.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

The only riot I ever witnessed was in Derry. It must have been in August 1996 or August 1997. A little explanation is necessary. The IRA had declared a ceasefire in 1994, but that had been broken in 1996. Then a second ceasefire was called and that led to the Good Friday Agreement of Easter 1998.

The North was edging towards a peace, but there were still lingering seismic tremors.

Most had to do with the Loyalist marching season. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Orangemen wearing their sashes and bowler hats would march up and down the Queen’s highways of the North, in commemoration of King Billy and 1690.

It was a symbolic show of strength, to show the Catholic population that they marched and controlled the roads they marched upon.

The motives might have been slightly more altruistic before the Troubles, but they became acts of triumphalism during the years of violence. And when they passed close to Nationalist areas, it always led to skirmishes and rioting.

So in the 1990s there were a small number of parades that were particularly contentious. There were a few in Belfast, particularly one that went near the republican Ardoyne area in the north of the city.

The main flashpoint, though, was in Portadown in Armagh. An Orange march went around the town every year and its route included the Garvaghy Road, which was Nationalist. Every year as it passed down, there would be sectarian taunts from the marchers and local residents in the milder year, and full-blown riots in the worst years. It developed into a nasty stand-off that went on for years and became a huge media event every July.

For a few years, there was also a similar situation in Derry but it never reached the same magnitude of hate and division. It happened later, in August, when Loyalists commemorated the siege of Derry, when Jacobites attacked the walled city of Derry but were repelled by a small force comprised largely of Apprentice Boys.

The Orange march, led by a group called the Black Preceptory, had marched through Catholic areas in the past but residents’ groups, essentially vehicles dominated by Sinn Féin, had become very active in the late 1990s at ensuring they did not go through Nationalist areas without negotiation. It was a very effective strategy for Republicans at pushing the Republican line of equality of esteem, and equality of access.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell

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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 www.connachttribune.ie

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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

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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 www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara

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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 www.connachttribune.ie

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 www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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