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Connacht Tribune

Documentary examines influence of hurling on ice hockey

Dara Bradley



Hurling’s influence on Canada’s national game, ice hockey, is documented in a new film by a Connemara production company.

Poc na nGael (Puck of the Irish), directed and produced by Éamonn Ó Cualáin and Sam Kingston of Fócas Films in Chill Chiaráin, makes its Irish premiere at the upcoming Galway Film Fleadh.

In the history documentary, former Galway senior hurling manager, and controversial television and newspaper pundit, Ger Loughnane, discovers the Irish links to Canada’s national obsession.

Éamonn Ó Cualáin produced Lón sa Spéir, (Men at Lunch) – a documentary about the human story of the iconic photo showing eleven workers having lunch break on the 69th floor of a skyscraper in New York in 1932 – which toured over 40 countries after its debut at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2012.

His wife Geraldine has a brother, John Coyne, from Maam Valley, living in Toronto so he was vaguely familiar with the connections between hurling and ice hockey, and jumped at the opportunity of delving deeper.

“I’m up to my tonsils in GAA and I love hurling. I had heard before of the connections but I hadn’t done any research on it. This gave me the opportunity,” said Éamonn, the chairman of Carna/Caiseal GAA Club.

The documentary gives an insight into how the Irish integrated into Canadian society through Canada’s national game, a game in which the Irish were essential in creating and developing.

“As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday this year, the documentary presents an opportunity to highlight the role of Irish immigrants in making Canada the country it is today. It’s about the Irish tenacity to succeed, both on the rink and in Canadian society.

“Without the Irish influence, Canada would not have the game it loves and enjoys so much today. That’s incredible really for a country of our size,” he said.

Éamonn worked with Ger Loughnane on TG4’s very successful Seó Spóirt programme, and felt he was a natural fit to front this film. “When Ger says something, people listen.

“Ger wasn’t 100% convinced about the connection between hurling and ice hockey at first. It’s like a story you’d hear in a pub – ‘ice hockey came from hurling’ – and not many facts but as the film shows, there are a fair amount of facts to back it up,” he said.

Éamonn added: “It will appeal to hurling people, people who love their hurling and GAA. That the sport of Cú Chulainn, our national sport, had such an influence on Canada’s national pastime. Like we are mad about GAA, Canadians are mad about ice-hockey. In Canada, they learn how to walk and then they learn how to skate. It’s just interesting that our biggest and best contribution to Canada was ice hurling, which evolved into ice hockey.”

What will surprise viewers most is that the hurling link is due to Irish Protestants/Ulster Scots who brought hurling across with them, according to Éamonn.

Ger Loughnane uncovers this link at the birthplace of hockey in Windsor, Nova Scotia. His journey across eastern Canada reveals that the sport the Irish helped develop also provided the Irish with the opportunity to grow in Canadian society.

The popular presenter also discovers the strong Irish heritage of leading Canadian teams such as the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs who originated as the Toronto St. Patrick’s.

As the NHL celebrates its 100th anniversary the film examines the Irish legacy and how it is remembered today.

It was cofounded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and TG4 and will be broadcast on the national Irish language TV station this autumn

■ Poc na nGael is showing at the Galway Film Fleadh on Sunday July 16 at 2.15pm in the Cinemobile beside Town Hall Theatre

Connacht Tribune

Covid lockdown returns for Kildare, Laois and Offaly

Enda Cunningham



The Government has announced localised lockdowns for people living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, following a surge in Covid-19 cases over the past week.

People from outside of those counties have been asked not to travel their unless for work or essential travel.

The restrictions affect travel, pubs, restaurants, swimming pools and cinemas.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the clusters of new cases were of serious concern and described the restrictions as “limited”.

“Over the past 14 days 292 cases of Covid-19 have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. These represent almost half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time.

“These measures are being put in place to protect the vulnerable in these counties as well as to stop the spread of the virus.

They are in place for two weeks from midnight tonight (Friday) until midnight on Friday, August 20. The situation will then be reviewed,” the Taoiseach said.

Travel and transport

You can only travel within your county, other than for the following reasons:

  • to travel to and from work where that work cannot be done from home
  • to attend medical appointments, collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, like providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits
  • for farming purposes, food production or care of animals

You should not travel into any of these counties, other than for the reasons above, and you need to travel through these counties to get somewhere else. You should not stop in Kildare, Laois or Offaly unless for essential purposes.

Public and private transport

You should not use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and where possible you should not share private vehicles with others from outside your household.

Education and childcare

The following services remain open with appropriate protective measures in place:

  • education and childcare
  • outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks
  • Economic activity and work
  • Anyone in these counties who can work from home should work from home.


Cafes and restaurants

  • All cafes and restaurants, including bars operating as restaurants, should only offer takeaway or delivery, or outdoor dining (maximum 15 people with strict physical distancing).
  • Hotels can remain open but must limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons. Existing guests can remain for the duration of their booking.

Indoor gatherings

  • All indoor gatherings should be restricted to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 3 households in total, while maintaining physical distancing.

Outdoor gatherings

  • Outdoor gatherings should be limited to a maximum of 15 people, while maintaining physical distancing.

Cultural and religious

  • All cinemas, theatres, casinos, betting shops, bingo halls, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, exercise and dance studios are required to close.
  • Attendance at a funeral service and burial or cremation ceremony should be limited to 25 outdoors. Indoor events connected to the funeral are limited to a maximum of 6 people.
  • Places of worship remain open for private prayer, while services are to be held online.


No sporting events or matches should take place, with the following exemptions:

  • non-contact training outdoors in a maximum group of 15 people may continue
  • professional and elite sports and horse-racing may continue behind closed doors
  • inter-county training (max 15 people) and fixtures may continue behind closed doors

Residential and healthcare facilities

*Visiting in long-term residential care facilities, acute settings and prisons will generally be suspended in the first instance with the exception of the most critical and compassionate circumstances (for example end of life).

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Connacht Tribune

Relocation homebuyers head to the west

Dara Bradley



Clifden....popular destination.

The Coronavirus pandemic has encouraged a new exodus of homebuyers to relocate to the west, with remote working now a viable option for many employees.

Galway’s busiest auctioneer has noticed increased interest in properties in the city and county from workers relocating from Dublin, its commuter belt and the Midlands.

The availability of high-speed broadband, which can facilitate working from home, is a determining factor in many homebuyers’ decisions to move to the West.

But the high cost of renting remains the single biggest incentive for people to get on the property ladder, according to Niall Browne, senior sales negotiator at O’Donnellan and Joyce Auctioneers.

“People are paying such high rent that it’s the equivalent to a mortgage repayment and that’s when you buy. That’s the biggest incentive to buy – you’re not giving away dead money,” Mr Browne said.

The property market locally had quietened in the initial months of the Covid-19 lockdown – but it has been buoyant in the past two months in particular, he said.

Mr Browne suggested there was an element of pent-up demand for housing that was now being realised as the Covid lockdown restrictions focused people’s minds on their desire to purchase a home.

“We typically try to get eight to ten sales per month by private treaty, and we had 28 or 29 last month. The previous month was six and the previous month was eight. This month (July) we’re up to 26, and that’s outside of our auction,” he said.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Nursing Homes shun student nurses over Covid fears

Stephen Corrigan



Student nurses in Galway are facing financial doom as part-time employers shun those currently on work placement in hospitals over fears they are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19.

First year nursing student at NUI Galway Ciarán Mac an tSaoir told the Connacht Tribune that this had become a particular issue for first and second year students who would traditionally take on healthcare assistant roles in nursing homes, where the fear of spreading the virus is at fever pitch.

“After semester one in first year, you are essentially qualified as a healthcare assistant and a lot of students would take that up as an option. Since Covid-19 came in, a lot of work places are fearful of cross-contamination and that’s not unjustified.

“It’s very understandable that a nursing home wouldn’t want a student who might be going between five or six clinical areas in an acute hospital to be then coming into work in the nursing home,” said Mr Mac an tSaoir.

Nursing students, for whom a large proportion of their university experience is spent on unpaid work placement, spend up to 35-hours a week in a clinical setting and so that could mean them travelling between a Covid-19-free setting of a nursing home to a respiratory word in a hospital such as UHG, he explained.

However, this wasn’t a HSE policy but rather the decision of individual care facilities who were doing their best to ensure coronavirus was kept out.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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