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Connacht Tribune

Haunting new novel inspired by abandoned Galway island

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Inishark: abandoned island off the Galway coast is the inspiration for the haunting novel, 'The Stolen Child'.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy talks to US-born writer Lisa Carey whose latest book of dark magic was sparked by visit to Inishark

The abandoned island of Inishark that rises out of the Atlantic seven miles off the north Galway coast was the inspiration for The Stolen Child, the latest novel from US-born writer Lisa Carey.

It’s a haunting, beautiful book about a close-knit community where pagan superstitions and Catholic beliefs exist side by side, and where dark magic simmers just below the surface.

Worlds collide when an American woman comes to live on her mother’s birthplace of St Brigid’s Island. The woman does so at a time when the few families on this isolated place without electricity, running water, doctors, priests or even a properly functioning pier, are being encouraged by the Irish government to move to the mainland. But this stranger, named Brigid, wants the islanders to stay for her own reasons.

She carries magic in her hands, as does a young island woman, Emer. When the two meet, they realise they share a secret. The magic they possess – good and bad – will not be contained and its consequences are far-reaching.

The Stolen Child has been described by Lisa’s fellow-novelist Belinda McKeown as “a novel to devour”, while Irish Times reviewer Sarah Keating declared that it “casts a spell upon the reader in its opening prologue and does not let go until the final, devastating moments”.

It’s the fifth novel from Lisa, but her first to be published outside America – the UK, Irish and Commonwealth publishing rights were bought by UK publishers Weidenfeld & Nicolson.  She’s delighted to see it on Irish bookshelves as well as in the US where it’s being published by Perennial, HarperCollins.

Lisa lived in Ireland from 1995 to 2000, and it’s where she wrote her first book, The Mermaids Singing, in a “quiet, beautiful place”.

That place was Inishbofin, divided from Inishark by a narrow, but treacherous stretch of sea.

Inishark’s remaining six families were moved to the mainland in Autumn 1960. Inishbofin, with its larger population and somewhat superior services, survived to see better days and, while not without its problems, has a thriving community.

Lisa’s grandparents were originally from Renvyle in North Connemara and she grew up in America hearing about the Renvyle peninsula, especially the stunning beaches such as Glassilaun and Lettergesh. Eventually, she visited in the early 1990s, staying with family and creating her own memories.

“I graduated from college and asked for a trip to Ireland. My grandparents had come back to go on the beach, and a couple of cousins too, but I went with a friend from college.”

Then Lisa discovered nearby Inishbofin and was captivated.

“It’s the sort of place people come to for a weekend and stay for an entire summer,” she says with a laugh.

Lisa’s connection was even greater – she spent five years there. During that time, she graduated from Vermont College with a Masters in Fine Art, which she added to her BA from Boston college.

“I’ve always had a writing bug,” says Lisa who was born outside Boston. “It started as a reading bug; reading was my favourite thing to do – novels especially.”

So much so, that she remembers asking her dad if she could get a job writing the blurbs for book covers.

“At school, writing was always easier than maths or science. Writing an essay, I was relaxed. But I kept it a secret until after college.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Record crowds pack Ballinasloe to celebrate Fair’s 300th anniversary

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Crowds flock to the Fairgreen at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair.

RECORD crowds packed into Ballinasloe last weekend for the return of the famous October Fair – but it turned to be a ‘dry day’ for the punters with most of the pubs in the town taking the decision to close their doors on Sunday.

Hotels in the town also adopted either a ‘food only’ or ‘residents only’ policy through Sunday but Gardaí reported a trouble-free weekend in the town.

“There were huge crowds around and especially so on Sunday, but we had no reports of any trouble – it was practically an incident free weekend,” said a Garda spokesperson.

Many visitors to the Fair on Sunday expressed disappointment at the decision of the pubs to close  – although a few establishments did open their doors with special security arrangements in place.

The last ‘official fair’ took place in October, 2019, and while there was an unofficial event last year, it was only a small gathering due to the Covid restrictions.

An estimated 3,000 people turned out for the free open-air country music concert with Mike Denver in the Square on Sunday afternoon and Fair organisers also reported a very busy sales day with many horses changing hands.

Trustee of the Ballinasloe Showgrounds, Gerry Stronge, told the Connacht Tribune, that after a three-year break, the crowds had really thronged back into the town on Sunday.

“Most people I know that have been attending the Fair for years said that it was biggest crowd they had ever seen there on the first Sunday of the event.

“It was an incredible day – the streets were absolutely jammed with people – and it was most enjoyable with no trouble whatsoever,” he said.

Get the full story with loads of photos in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

A remarkable rally sees St Thomas’ reel in the ’Bridge

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Clarinbridge's Conor Lee tries to shake off the attentions of St Thomas' Victor Manso during Saturday's Senior A Group tie at Kenny Park. Photos: David Cunniffe.

St. Thomas’ 4-20

Clarinbridge 4-17

DARREN KELLY AT KENNY PARK

NOTHING at ‘stake’ but pride and last year’s two senior hurling championship finalists had plenty of that on Saturday as St. Thomas and Clarinbridge served up a thriller in their final group game.

Both teams were already guaranteed places in the knockout stages but for the winners, a path straight through to the quarter-finals proper was the reward and they played like that meant everything.

Obviously, neither side wanted to show weakness ahead of a potential showdown later in the year. The contest even had a half-time scuffle that resulted in yellow cards for St. Thomas’ duo John Headd and Conor Cooney.

Despite all that and the changing weather, the hurling was the only item for discussion afterwards. Three first half Clarinbridge goals gave them a 3-10 to 0-11 interval lead.  Four green flags for St. Thomas in the second period reminded the county that they still are the team to beat.

And that was the talking point before throw-in following their 22-match unbeaten streak ending with a heavy defeat to Turloughmore two weeks previously. And it wasn’t looking any better for St. Thomas’ when TJ Brennan struck a second minute goal for Clarinbridge.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Recalling strange times that ‘shook up’ our lives

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

THE other day while doing another of those clear-outs of old documents that are well past their sell-by-date, I came across a couple of letters from my employer, which jolted me back into another world . . . but still a quite recent one.

Their purpose was to indicate that I needed to show up for work in-person (an essential employee if you don’t mind!) and if I was stopped at a Garda Covid checkpoint, then I could produce this piece of paperwork. We really did go through some strange times.

There are occasions too when I leave my desk and just for a split-second think that I’ve forgotten to don my mask. That same feeling also crosses my mind at times as I enter shops or other public places but then I realise that’s all very much of ‘yesterday’s news’.

Reminders still persist of those black days across the country mostly on visits to healthcare settings like pharmacies, GP surgeries or nursing homes, where staff still wear masks, and visitors are encouraged to do the same.

It takes me back to a Sunday evening on March 15, 2020, in my local watering hole less than 48-hours before the arrival of St. Patrick’s Day, when we were all highly sceptical about any pubs closing down.

We reassured ourselves too that such a development could never happen in a country noted for ‘the craic’ as our traditional day of national celebration approached. In our innocence, we thought we were wise old sods . . . but we had gotten things spectacularly wrong.

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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