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Gallows humour on the topic of Irish deaths

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Ardal O'Hanlon....Guess Who's Dead?

TV Watch with Dave O’Connell

It would appear that we Irish have a particular fascination with death and dead people – and a good funeral isn’t far behind a wedding in terms of the sense of occasion.

So it’s probably not that strange that Ardal O’Hanlon would choose to dig deep, so to speak, into this world of the dead and how we mourn them, for a one-off documentary entitled Guess Who’s Dead on RTE 1 last week.

And it starts with the death notices, where the language can take on whole new meanings.

So Joe Bloggs either died ‘peacefully or very peacefully’, or they have gone ‘suddenly but peacefully’ – which might suggest they didn’t know what hit them – but invariably they were ‘taken from us too soon’.

Depending on what the family actually thought, the deceased’s departure was either ‘regretted’ or ‘deeply regretted’ – and this wasn’t just a sign of affection, because every letter in the death notice for the newspaper carried a price, so deep regret came at a cost.

‘American papers please copy’ just mean that they were a few of the family in Boston; ‘house private’ means steer clear of looking for free drink and sandwiches; and ‘family flowers only’ is a request not to overpower the place with wilting lilies.

Donations to Croí meant he died of a heart attack.

This was a sort of whimsical look at death and dying, an approach that isn’t easy to pull off – so perhaps that’s what made the man who played Fr Dougal the best choice for the job.

In real life, it helps that Ardal O’Hanlon had grown up in the house of a politician – his father was Fianna Fáil Minister Rory O’Hanlon – which meant that funerals were part and parcel of everyday life.

His father went to every funeral around, a practice that still exists today, according to Clare TD Timmy Dooley. And the Fianna Fáil man was honest enough to admit that it’s not because you get a lot of kudos for turning up – but you’d be afraid of the fall-out if you didn’t.

Only in Ireland, according to Ardal, is news of someone’s death is a conversation starter – even more bizarre when it is a conversion normally prompted by the question ‘you’d never guess who’s dead’.

Only an undertaker or priest could hazard an educated guess at that, but the rest of us have the world of choice to pick from.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

CITY TRIBUNE

The Uncertainty of History at Kinvara Courthouse

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Family Tree by Bernadette Burns, which is being shown as part of her exhibition in Kinvara. It explores events surrounding the death of her grandaunt Eileen Quinn at Kiltartan 101 years ago, during the War of Independence.

The Uncertainty of History – Remembering Eileen Quin, an exhibition that explores human transience, family history and the fragility of memory, will open in the Courthouse at Kinvara, next Friday, October 29.

The work of Galway-born artist Bernadette Burns, this multi-media show was inspired by her grandaunt Eileen Quinn who was killed by British Auxiliary troops on November 1, 1920, in Kiltartan outside Gort.

The show was originally meant to take place in Kinvara last year, on the 100th anniversary of Eileen Quinn’s death, but was postponed because of Covid.

Bernadette is a painter who works with drawing, photography, sculpture, video and book-making.

The paintings, sculpture, audio, and artist’s books in this exhibition grew from a diary entry by Bernadette’s grandmother, Tessie Burns, which referred to the shooting of her younger sister, Eileen, in 1920.

As a child, growing up in Galway City, Bernadette had known that Tessie’s younger sister had died during the War of Independence, but not the details. Finding the diary after Tessie died in 1991 and also being given Tessie’s photo album, awoke something in Bernadette who’d studied art at the then RTC and the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

The First Bad Man – a book club like no other

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Andrew Bennett in Pan Pan Theatre's The First Bad Man.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

“Characters who are trying to understand and explain what is going on in the world and who never know what’s around the corner,” will be on the stage of the city’s Black Box Theatre next Tuesday and Wednesday, October 26 and 27, in The First Bad Man.

The audience will be centrally involved in the show, according to Gavin Quinn of Pan Pan Theatre, who directs The First Bad Man, which is “based on a reading of a novel by Miranda July”.

Gavin and Aedín Cosgrove established Pan Pan in 1993 to present experimental and challenging work and that’s exactly what it does. So, this production is not a straightforward adaptation of the popular 2015 novel from July, who is also a film director, screenwriter actor, and actress. When Gavin read The First Bad Man – her debut novel – he loved “its theatricality and its unusual themes and relationships”.

He was already a fan of the US artist’s work, including her 2007 short-story collection, No One Belongs Here More than You, which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Gavin wrote to July seeking permission for Pan Pan to stage a show based on The First Bad Man. But it wouldn’t be an adaptation, he explained.

“What I was suggesting was more a conceptual piece, more a book club idea,” he says. July was agreeable, although the permission process took longer than it might have done for a straightforward adaptation.

As with so many other companies, Pan Pan’s plans were delayed by Covid. But the show is now coming to Galway, having received its live premiere at the Dublin Theatre Festival earlier this month.

In Pan Pan’s production, a fictional book club selects The First Bad Man as its novel of the week. However, rather than discussing it over one meeting, as is the norm, the club’s members become obsessed with it “and keep coming back to it over a year”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dark comedy that explores obsession with weddings

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Sarah-Jane Scott as Sorcha in Appropriate. PHOTO: SIMON LAZEWSKI.

Tuam actress, Sarah-Jane Scott, brings her darkly comic one-woman show, Appropriate, to Druid’s Mick Lally Theatre this Saturday, October 23, with a performance at 4pm and another at 8pm.

The play’s heroine, Sorcha, is the queen bee of her hometown, engaged to former county hurling star, Marty. She’s been dreaming about her wedding day for years, except now that it has arrived, she’s just run away from her own reception.

Sorcha isn’t sure if she’s lost her reason or if this is the first sane moment she’s had in years, but as she prepares to enter her perfectly planned life, she finally realises she has never really listened to herself.

Appropriate premiered at the2018 Dublin Fringe festival when it received a great response and was nominated for a Bewley’s Little Gem Award.  The Sunday Times critic was ‘wooed by her self-deprecating, acutely observed tale of love and loss’ that taps into ‘our insatiable obsession with weddings’ while The Irish Times praised it as ‘an engrossing debut’.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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