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Connacht Tribune

Galway ensemble fundraises for trip to Carnegie Hall




A Galway Gospel Choir has been invited to sing in Carnegie Hall in New York City next year – but to get there, they need to secure notes of the non-musical kind!

Because the IGNITE Gospel Choir have set a target of €33,000 to fund the experience of a lifetime when they participate in a performance of ‘Handel’s Messiah’ for the Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) Concert Series in December 2019.

DCINY is the leading producer of dynamically charged musical excellence, with a global community of artists and audiences and empowering educational programs.

Keara McDonald, director and founder of IGNITE Gospel Choir said she is both “delighted and terrified,” about the performance, but that it is a “great honour” to be selected.

IGNITE were scouted online by DCINY and invited to audition.

“It’s not something we looked for,” Keara said, “we’re a community gospel choir.”

They used a clip from their YouTube channel as their audition piece.

Dr Jonathan Griffith, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for DCINY said: “IGNITE Gospel Choir Galway received this invitation because of the quality and level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers.”

“These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community,” he said.

They will join choirs from all over the world, but they are the only choir participating from Ireland on this occasion and the only choir from Galway ever to participate in the annual event.

Keara originally set up IGNITE Gospel Choir because she felt that there was a “gap in the market for people to express themselves through song.”

She has a ‘no audition’ policy because she believes it’s “not about having a great singing ability,” but about “blending” everyone together to create “one voice.”

She described them as a “wonderful, vibrant choir” who have earned over €130,000 for charities and have performed for numerous events.

These include busking in the Christmas Market for an hour and raising €430 for Cancer Care West, performing on Mental Health Day at St. Nicholas’ Church and the Their Lives Matter Ball.

There are 85 people in the choir, with ages ranging from 17 to 76 with a mix of single people, couples, people who participate for fun, healing purposes, to reconnect and for the social aspect, to name a few.

Keara feels that joining the choir helps people with their confidence – not only within the choir but within their personal life too.

A total of 48 people will be travelling to sing in New York in December and Keara said they hope to have everything ready by May. They also hope to perform ‘Handel’s Messiah’ for the people of Galway before they leave.

The choir rehearses every Thursday at 7:30pm in St. Joseph’s Church but according to Dr. Griffith, the singers will spend an additional nine or ten hours rehearsing over their five-day stay in New York.

He himself will lead the performance in New York and he described the event as something that represents “extreme pride for everybody” and is “deserving of the community’s recognition and support.”

“Not all of the time is spent in rehearsals since there is so much history and culture to see in New York City. However, the performance is the primary purpose for their visit to the city,” Dr. Griffith said.

Members of the community are encouraged to give financial support in sending the singers to New York. They have a target of €33,000 and hope to launch the fundraising and donations on their tenth anniversary on October 26.

Keara is asking for the community to sponsor a singer or donate to the choir- “anything the community can do.”

“We always give back and have never asked for anything in return,” she said, but now they are asking the community of Galway to help them in any way they can – by coming to their concerts and events to help raise the money they need to help the choir represent Galway city.

If you wish to donate to sending the Galway choir to New York City, you can do so by contacting Keara at

Connacht Tribune

Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer

Denise McNamara



Ninety-five year old Margaret Kenny was first person to be administered the Covid-19 vaccination Practice Nurse Deirdre Furey at the Surgery Athenry.

On the first anniversary of Covid-19’s deadly arrival into Ireland, the head of the Saolta hospital group has predicted that all who want the vaccine will have received it by the end of the summer.

Tony Canavan, CEO of the seven public hospitals, told the Connacht Tribune that the HSE was planning to set up satellite centres from the main vaccination hub at the Galway Racecourse to vaccinate people on the islands and in the most rural parts of the county.

While locations have not yet been signed up, the HSE was looking at larger buildings with good access that could be used temporarily to carry out the vaccination programme over a short period.

“We do want to reach out to rural parts of the region instead of drawing in people from the likes of Clifden and over from the islands. The plan is to set up satellites from the main centre, sending out small teams out to the likes of Connemara,” he explained.

“Ideally we’d run it as close as possible to the same time that the main centres are operating once that is set up. Communication is key – if people know we’re coming, it will put people’s minds at rest.”

Get all the latest Covid-19 coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Galway meteorologist enjoying new-found fame in the sun!

Denise McNamara



Linda Hughes, presenting the RTÉ weather forecast live in studio.

Growing up in Galway where four seasons in a day is considered a soft one, Linda Hughes always had a keen interest in the weather.

But unlike most Irish people, instead of just obsessing about it, she actually went and pursued it as a career.

The latest meteorologist to appear on RTE’s weather forecasts hails from Porridgtown, Oughterard, and brings with her an impressive background in marine forecasting.

She spent six years in Aerospace and Marine International in Aberdeen, Scotland, which provides forecasts for the oil and gas industry.

The 33-year-old was a route analyst responsible for planning routes for global shipping companies. She joined the company after studying experimental physics in NUIG and doing a masters in applied meteorology in Redding in the UK.

“My job was to keep crews safe and not lose cargo by picking the best route to get them to their destination as quickly as possibly but avoiding hurricanes, severe storms,” she explains.

“It was a very interesting job, I really enjoyed it but it was very stressful as you were dealing with bad weather all the time because there’s always bad weather in some part of the world.”

Read the full interview with Linda Hughes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Great-great-grandmother home after Covid, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery

Dave O'Connell



Mary Quinn...back home after an incredible few months.

Her family are understandably calling her their miracle mum – because an 81 year old great-great-grandmother from Galway has bounced back from Covid-19, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery since Christmas…to return hale and hearty, to her own home.

But Mary Quinn’s family will never forget the trauma of the last three months, as the Woodford woman fought back against all of the odds from a series of catastrophic set-backs.

The drama began when Mary was found with a bleed on her brain on December 16. She was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital, and transferred to Beaumont a day later where she underwent an emergency procedure – only to then suffer a stroke.

To compound the crisis, while in Beaumont, she contracted pneumonia, suffered heart failure and developed COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – the inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

“Christmas without mom; things did not look good,” said her daughter Catherine Shiel.

But the worst was still to come – because before Mary was discharged, she contracted Covid-19.

Read Mary’s full, heart-warming story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from

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