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Connacht Tribune

Giving new life to ancient stories

Judy Murphy



Mark is passionate about folklore and history.

Lifestyle – Mark Joyce shares his passion for Irish myths and legends in a new book which he has written and illustrated. A companion piece to his previous work on Ireland’s mythical beasts, Ireland’s Mythical Wonders is a treasure trove of heroic figures, magic events, and occasional forays into madness. He tells JUDY MURPHY how it came about.

While most of us moan when rain falls, Mark Joyce embraces bad weather. It’s the one time you can stay indoors, happily immersed in books without feeling guilty about neglecting any work that needs doing outside, the Recess man says cheerfully, during a deluge of Biblical proportions.

Mark, an artist by training who owns the renowned Joyce’s Craft Shop in Recess, loves books of all sorts, but has a particular passion for Irish history and heritage.

In recent years, he has taken that ‘grá’ and created his own illustrated books, the latest of which, Mythical Irish Wonders, has been just published by Currach Press.  Mark describes the colourful hardback book as “a companion piece” to Mythical Irish Beasts which Currach published two years ago.

Mark, a graduate of the Dún Laoghaire College of Art and Design who also has a background in film, concentrated on fantastical creatures from Irish mythology for that first book, which he also illustrated. Some were familiar while others were less well-known – he brought them to life for a new generation.

While he was researching Mythical Irish Beasts, Mark stumbled across a range of smaller, fantastic pre-historic tales. “I’d never heard of some of them before and they were really cool,” he explains.

Individually, these ‘wonder stories’ were too small to merit individual books, “but too important to be forgotten”, he says.

These included information about how to become an Irish warrior, the location of the gates of hell (Roscommon), how a chieftain’s sword could also make rainbows, and Ireland’s magic trees. Mark decided to compile these miniature treasures into a new collection that would transport readers into another space and time.

The result is Mythical Irish Wonders, a hardback book with 49 stories, similar in design to Mythical Irish Beasts. It has adventurous deeds from heroes such as Cú Chulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhaill as well as information on Celtic and pre-Celtic Ireland, including the various tribes that inhabited the country in pagan times. There’s also an account of the 14 different names given to the country, as recorded by 17th century historian, Geoffrey Keating.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí seek help in locating missing man

Enda Cunningham



Gardaí have sought help in locating a man missing in Galway since the end of December.
34-year-old Luke Davoren was last seen in the University Road area on December 30.

He is described as having fair hair, 6ft in height and having an athletic build. He was last seen wearing a grey hoody, brown leather jacket, blue jeans and brown leather boots. He also had a black back pack in his possession.

Gardaí and Luke’s family are very concerned for his welfare and have urged him to make contact.

Anyone with information, particularly any road users with dash cam footage of the Newcastle/University Road areas between 1am – 2am on December 30, is asked to contact Galway Garda Station on 091 538000.

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Connacht Tribune

Hospitals cope with overcrowding and staff shortages as Covid crisis peaks

Dara Bradley



Confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to skyrocket in Galway, as virus-related frontline healthcare staff shortages persist and now overcrowding emerges as a new threat.

Galway experienced four days of record-breaking positive case notifications in the past week, as hospitalisations grew exponentially and pressure was heaped on the critical care units at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Portiuncula.

Hospital management said it was unsure whether community transmission had peaked locally yet – and they expect hospitals to be under ‘significant pressure’ from Covid admissions well into February.

Nurses have highlighted how overcrowding in the Emergency Department of the county’s two main public hospitals has returned – some 112 patients were stuck on trolleys awaiting admission to UHG and Ballinasloe on five mornings in the past week. Meanwhile, it hasn’t yet been officially confirmed that the new UK variant of Covid is present in Galway, but authorities believe it is.

The latest data shows there has been no let-up in new cases notifications in Galway – 604 confirmed cases were notified for Monday, the highest in Ireland and Galway’s worst ever day by a long shot.

It was a frightening figure but it was not for one day and was part of clearing the backlog of cases over Christmas and New Year, the HSE said.

That pushed Galway’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 to 1033.9 more than double what it was a week ago and eight times what it was a fortnight ago. Some 2,668 new Galway cases were notified in the fortnight to midnight Tuesday.

Read the full story and comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 crisis 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

Suffer little children – report shines a light into shameful past

Dave O'Connell



Baby clothing hanging from a tree branch in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home burial ground this week. PHOTO: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Tribune Comment

The final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes shines a light into the darkest recesses of our shameful past; young women and tiny babies neglected by Church and State – fellow, frail human beings whose lives and deaths somehow didn’t matter at all.

These women and their children were punished, hidden out of sight; mistreated at best; physically and sexually abused at worst – and way, way too many were left to die without a shred of dignity in their lives or in their passing.

The Trojan work and dedication of people like Catherine Corless lifted the stone on the shame – but it is only in their shocking stories, as we’ve read and heard this week, that we can get any sense of the depths of this depravity.

Many of the mothers were little more than children themselves, who had their little babies taken from them and given away with even a sliver of consent.

There were no records of their adoption, and no willingness, even decades later, to help those babies to find their birth mothers. Because to do so would have exposed the cruel and heartless manner of their forced adoptions in the first place.

And yet exposing this scandal is only the first step; an apology was the very least they were entitled to. Now we as a nation, and particularly those religious orders who ran the homes, must do everything to redress this wrong.

We must open the files so that they can discover their full life stories, find their living relatives, and be compensated so that at least the rest of their lives are in complete contrast to all they’ve endured until now.

We need to look at how we can give hundreds of innocent babies a proper burial – however belated and insufficient that may be.

Nothing will undo the damage – but now that the depths of this depravity have finally been laid bare, there must be no equivocation, no prevarication; just a commitment to doing whatever it takes to try and right a terrible wrong.

See full coverage of the Commission’s Report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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