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Galway’s shame comes under the spotlight in US premiere of play

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Lifestyle – Judy Murphy travelled to Denver in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies to see a production of ‘Stained Glass at Samhain’

It’s a long way from Galway to Denver, Colorado – 4,310 miles to be precise but that distance narrowed significantly last week as the University of Colorado Denver staged the American premiere of Galway writer Patricia Burke Brogan’s play, Stained Glass at Samhain. 

Audiences in America’s Rocky Mountains region got a glimpse into Ireland’s infamous Magdalen laundries thanks to this production, which was accompanied by a series of talks and information evenings on these institutions, which destroyed the lives of thousands of innocent Irish women.

Patricia Burke Brogan is best known for the groundbreaking play, Eclipsed, which was first produced in 1992 here in Galway and which had a major role in highlighting the terrible wrongs done to women in Ireland’s Magdalen laundries.

In recent times, there has been huge coverage of these religious run institutions, but in 1992, little was known about them. Eclipsed, by Patricia, a former novice in Galway’s Mercy convent, helped change that. It has been translated into many languages from French to Japanese, and been performed all over the world, with a new production scheduled for Peru next year. It premiered in New York in 1999 when it was staged by the Irish Repertory Theatre, a production described by the New York Times as a ‘sad but quietly charming play’.

Stained Glass at Samhain, which premiered at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre in 2002, deals with the same subject but from the point of view of an elderly, compassionate nun. This nun, Sr Luke returns from the dead to visit the site of a former convent and laundry during the Celtic feast of Samhain as the buildings are being demolished to make way for the ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom. She shares her life story with the audience via a series of monologues while also interacting with the church authorities, the penitent women and the young, progressive convent chaplain.

The US premiere of Stained Glass at Samhain was performed last week by students at University of Denver Colorado, under the direction of Dr Eileen Kearney, an authority on women in Irish theatre. Eileen did her PhD on the Waterford born playwright Teresa Deevy, who had six of her works staged at the Abbey Theatre in the 1930s, before a more conservative regime at the national theatre broke its links with her. Deevy is now an almost forgotten name in Irish theatre.

Given both Eileen’s Christian and surname, it’s no surprise to learn that the New York-born director and drama lecturer has strong Irish links – to Mayo and Cork – and is familiar with the traditions of the Catholic Church. Eileen was taught by Catholic nuns, she explained, and that experience was a help in directing Stained Glass, as her early education gave her an insight into how they operated.

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

Connacht Tribune

Multi-instrumentalist draws inspiration from west coast

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Seamus O’Muineachain... new release.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

Seamus O’Muineachain is a minimalist multi-instrumentalist, composer and  producer with a penchant for a sense of place in his work.   Through five albums, he has approached ambient, instrumental soundscapes with piano melodies, gentle guitar, percussion and field recordings – using his music to reflect the calm and space of the areas that inspire it.

Seamus’ latest project is an ode to the Mullet Peninsula in the barony of Erris, Co. Mayo, which lies next to his home in Belmullet. Isthmus is set for release on October 1.

The songwriter was born in the US to an Italian mother and an Irish father, and his travels since his late teens have taken him across the globe. Still, something about home still seeps into his work at every corner.

For this record, it was a peninsula that, for Seamus, acts as a viewing platform for a sizable portion of the western landscape.

“It’s really rugged,” he says of the place.

“It feels like its own kind of world down here – it isn’t actually an island but it’s as close as you can get to one. Once you drive past the Ballycroy National Park, you’re out in the twilight zone where it’s rugged and back in time a little bit, but there’s something really beautiful and peaceful about it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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Connacht Tribune

Unique síbín-based show entertains and challenges

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The interior of the síbín that has been installed in Galway Arts Centre's building at Nuns' Island.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

They call it a síbín, but the ‘illegal boozer’ that members of the Belfast arts collective, Array, have created at Nuns’ Island Arts Centre in Galway city centre is as impressive as many legally licensed premises down South – more impressive than some. Síbíns might have gone out of fashion in this part of Ireland, but they remain popular in the North, especially in Belfast, where the 11-strong collective is based, explains artist Stephen Millar of the group.

This one forms part of The Druthaib’s Ball, a major exhibition from Array which won the prestigious 2021 Turner Art Prize – the first time a group from Northern Ireland took Britain’s leading arts award.

The Druthaib’s Ball was conceived by the members as a wake –  celebrating life and death – to mark the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s partition. On one wall of the síbín, a 35-minute film is playing. It was made during the commemoration ‘ball’, in Belfast’s Black Box venue last year.

Meanwhile, a collection of work on the síbín’s shelves and walls represent aspects of life in Northern Ireland – past and present. There’s more than 150 pieces, large and small, including paintings, political banners, a triptych of three stopped clocks, a kettle and a bata scór – a stick with a notch that was used in schools in Ireland during Victorian times to ensure children didn’t speak Irish.  The stopped clocks, meanwhile, with pictures of Belfast City Hall, Stormont and the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, are stopped at 19:21, 20:16 and 20:21 respectively – key years in Northern Ireland’s history.

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

Work for children of all ages in extended Baboró programme

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Grand Soft Day, a new co-production from Branar is for children aged three to six.

The 26th annual Baboró International Arts Festival for Children will take place from Friday, October 14, to Sunday, October 23, in theatres, galleries, schools and communities in Galway City and County.

This year’s extended 10-day festival will have more than 50 live events, presented by companies from all over Ireland and Europe, including Belgium, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Scotland and England.

These will include a special collection of European work made for children up to six years, as well as residencies in special schools and child-led projects.

Children aged eight and older are invited to join the surreal world of Der Lauf, where nothing is quite as it seems. In this show, two circus performers from Belgian company Le Cirque du Bout du Monde, compete in a series of bizarre challenges as they juggle blindly, spin plates and stack glasses, while wearing boxing gloves. As the glasses rise, so do the stakes. The children are their only guides and will either help lead the clowns to order or towards further chaos.

Ballet Ireland will present The Glasshouse, a dance performance for children aged six and older. It is the story of Fiach, an earnest youngster who is on a mission to repopulate the world with plants and turn it green. This fun, compelling show, by exciting young choreographer Róisín Whelan, is about human courage, friendship and the determination to survive. The Glasshouse promises “moments of suspense and joy, exhilarating dancing, vibrant costumes and magical music”.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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