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Duo drawn together in pursuit of good health

Judy Murphy

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Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets a pair who have tapped into creative energy

Watching young children as they draw, paint and make up stories is a reminder to us that we were all once blessed with boundless creative energy before life and formal education made most of us take different, less creative, paths.

For those who want revisit that creativity through art, or who want to explore how different colours can aid well-being by reflecting the energy in various parts of our bodies, a workshop in Art and Reiki being offered in Galway City from April 11-13 sounds intriguing.

The Art of Healing course in Roscam, close to the Galway Clinic, is being run by Aria Sweeney and Denise Hogan, who between them have a wealth of experience in the area of holistic healing and creative therapy.

“A lot of people experience fear around art, so this is a great workshop because you can try things out with no pressure, and you are still learning,” says Denise, who practises art in her spacious, airy studio in Roscam, as well as teaching classes to adults and children all around Galway.

Her colleague, Aria, trained in Reiki having worked in marketing and sales in London. As somebody who had regularly gone for reflexology, massage and Reiki, and who loved these treatments, it seemed logical to Aria to study complementary health when she decided on a career change.

“I was stressed out and always travelling, so I resigned voluntarily,” she says of her decision to quit the corporate world.

Aria and her Athenry-born husband, Tom, moved to Ireland in 2000 and it was then she really focused on holistic health, training in reflexology, massage and Reiki.  Now 63 years of age, bubbling with energy and fun, Finnish-born Aria is a walking advertisement for the lifestyle she practises. And she is no puritan, saying that she likes wine and chocolate as much as the next person, and is very practical in all areas of life. She also believes there is a place for orthodox medicine alongside her work – Reiki is not the answer to everything. But it offers a lot, she adds.

Reiki is a very simple form of healing that works by channelling the energy that is in and around us, Aria explains. It has its origins in Japan and it translates from Japanese as Universal Life Force.

Using it on the body’s chakras, or energy centres, can unblock a person’s energy and increase their creativity by treating issues that they mightn’t even know they had.

Reiki works from your heart so it’s very positive energy, she says.

“It makes you more sensitive to the energy around you,” according to Denise, who adds that it’s something everybody can do, because it’s very safe.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Galway poet’s new chapter as debut novel hits the shops

Judy Murphy

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Elaine Feeney....debut novel.

“I hated school so much I thought if I could be a teacher, I could make it a bit better,” says novelist and poet Elaine Feeney about her day-job as an English and History teacher at St Jarlath’s College in Tuam.

The Athenry woman certainly has made it livelier and more relevant. Her students who were studying Hamlet for this year’s Leaving Cert departed from the text to give the troubled prince psychotherapy sessions, with different boys taking on the roles of Hamlet and the therapist as they explored the plot. Elaine laughs as she recalls how they got totally caught up in it. There’s always an entry point to good writing, she says, adding that she loves Shakespeare – in part because of the soap opera element to his drama.

“You can compare it to the latest episode of EastEnders”.

The Handmaid’s Tale by contemporary Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood is also on the curriculum. Her novel might seem more relevant to the boys, especially given its global success since being adapted for television. When Elaine learned that Atwood would be visiting Galway in early March this year for a Galway 2020 event, she asked the organisers if it would be possible for the class to meet her and discuss her work. That’s what happened and 25 young men in their school blazers spent three hours discussing the novel with Atwood.

Elaine lectures in Creative Writing at NUIG and has been involved in the university’s project archiving the stories of the survivors of Tuam’s Mother and Baby home. So, watching her students engage with a woman whose books deal with the misuse of power and oppression of women was a great moment.

It’s an example of how far she’ll go to give the students the best preparation for exams and for life. Elaine has a great relationship with them, something she’ll miss next year as she takes a career break to promote her own novel, As You Were, published by UK company Harvill Secker.

Read the full interview with Elaine Feeney in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Live album looks after those who make it real

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Mick Flannery….album for the crew.

Anyone who has seen Mick Flannery play live will know that the Corkman doesn’t embrace the spotlight with both arms. There is a sincerity to what he does – his reluctance to operate as any sort of frontman is only outweighed by passion for his craft.

His shows are intimate and they’re backed up by a studio-quality sound and a genuine engagement between artist and audience. It is what happens when someone who doesn’t like talking about themselves ends up pouring their heart out on stage.

It is fitting, then, that Mick’s new album revolves around the people around him. All of the proceeds for Alive – Cork Opera House 2019, the singer-songwriter’s first live LP, will be shared among members of his band and crew who have lost work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s a major gesture from a modest talent and Mick is quick to point out that the album reflects just how much he owes to those that share his stage.

“I’m glad that it’s there as a tribute to them,” he says of the album. “I think Alan Comerford had a great gig that night on electric guitar with the solos that he played. Matthew Berrill was on the brass and he did some lovely stuff.

“There’s a few of the lads in the band who have music as their sole income. It’s not always easy to do that. It’s constantly booking gigs in bars around the place and that but it’s what they do and it’s what they have a passion for. They’ve worked hard to do what they love for a living and now these circumstances have taken that away.

“I have a kind of area to pivot – I can start writing songs and preparing albums whereas for the crew, without the live gigs their skillset is not being used at all… Lighting engineers and sound engineers, riggers, people that have built up PA companies over the years and small venues as well.”

For full interview, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Arts Festival is still giving it socks!

Judy Murphy

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Galway International Arts Festival Chief Executive John Crumlish and Artistic Director Paul Fahy, sporting their Irish Socksciety GIAF socks outside the Festival Gallery at William Street as details were announced of the Festival’s Autumn Edition. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

“This is not a July festival as people know it, moved forward. It’s a different creature” says Artistic Director of Galway Arts Festival Paul Fahy about the organisation’s ‘Autumn Edition’ which is being held in reality and virtually in September and October following the cancellation of the July 2020 Festival due to Covid-19.

The aim is to bring live audiences into performances in a safe way, “to re-ignite that spark between live art and audience”, while also using digital platforms to reach those who might not be able to attend live events due to Covid-19.

He’s understandably excited about Mirror Pavilion, a major installation by artist John Gerrard commissioned by the Festival for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture.

It will launch in Galway City’s Claddagh Quay on September 3, and will also be in Derrigimlagh Bog in North Connemara for October.

Gerrard is known for spectacular, large scale outdoor works such as Western Flag in California’s Coachella Desert and this work will be one of the largest outdoor installations ever in Ireland.

It will consist of three walls and a roof made of reflective glass while the fourth wall is an LED screen.

Two new artworks will be presented in the Pavilion; Corn Work at Claddagh Quay and Leaf Work at Derrigimlagh.

These connect with their specific setting, with Corn Work reflecting the power of the River Corrib and the many mills and industries it powered in bygone days.

Leaf Work, in the vast spaces of Derrigimlagh is a lament for the environmental damage that’s been caused to the world in the past century.

See full line-up and story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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