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Connacht Tribune

Drama in store at annual Galway Theatre Festival

Judy Murphy



Galway Theatre Festival Director Sorcha Keane, General Manager Béatrice Lemoine and Assistant Manager Kevin Murphy.

Lifestyle – The latest Director of Galway Theatre Festival, Sorcha Keane, combines a love of arts with a business background. It all helps in staging the annual event which gives a platform to new talent alongside more established artists as she tells JUDY MURPHY.

There’s nothing like theatre. You walk into a room with a bunch of strangers and you hear a story, known or unknown, and have a collective experience that’s so live and so tangible.” Such passion isn’t surprising coming from the Director of Galway Theatre Festival, Sorcha Keane whose love of arts, combined with an aptitude for business makes her an ideal person to steer this thriving organisation, which is celebrating its 11th festival next month.

The 2019 Galway Theatre Festival will run from May 3-11, with a range of drama from established and upcoming artists, as well as works-in-progress, and two free performances, including Beats on the Street from the Macnas Drumming Ensemble, which will be on the city streets – the location will be announced closer to the performance date of May 8.

Galway Theatre Festival (GTF), which began in October 2008, has grown from that inaugural four-day event which staged six productions at Nuns Island Theatre, to its current incarnation, presenting more than 20 productions across a range of city venues. That’s in addition to the works-in-progress, workshops and discussions about surviving and thriving in a notoriously difficult business.

“Our ethos is to support independent and emerging theatre artists and give them a space to present their work,” explains Sorcha.

Dubliner Sorcha first came to Galway to do a Masters in Theatre, having previously graduated from UCD with a BA in French and History and a Masters in Cultural Policy and Arts Management.

After leaving UCD, she worked in corporate travel for several years before changing direction.

“I ran away to the circus,” she says with a laugh about relocating to Galway.

Here she has worked as a volunteer with Galway Theatre Festival as well as the Film Fleadh and with the Arts in Action programme at NUIG.

Sorcha’s business background, her love of arts, and her experience as an intern with GTF last year, made her an ideal choice to take on the mantle of Festival Director last June when Máiréad Ní Chróinín (also of Moonfish Theatre) stepped down from the role.

“I always had a love of theatre and also had a love of festivals,” Sorcha explains.

Since 2008, GTF has supported emerging theatre groups and individual practitioners, as its founders realised “there was a need for a platform specifically for emerging artists in Galway and the West of Ireland”.

The event has grown since then under the guidance of a committed group of people, including former directors Róisín Stack and Máiréad Ní Chróinín, but GTF has remained true to its original remit.

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



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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