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Connacht Tribune

Jane tunes up for a busy year

Judy Murphy

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Lifestyle – Jane O’Leary’s life revolves around music, as a composer, teacher, promoter and researcher. Born in the US, she moved to Ireland in the early 1970s and has played a major role in opening Irish ears to classical music via organisations such as Music for Galway and the Galway Music Residency. With four premieres of her own work due to be performed in Ireland and the UK early in 2020, she’s not resting on her laurels.

“I never say I’m a composer, it’s just part of my musical life,” says American-born Jane O’Leary, who has been key to the development of classical music in Galway and Ireland since she moved to this country from the US in 1972.

Now, in her early 70s, Jane is enjoying one of the busiest periods of her composing career, with four of her works due to be presented on stage in Ireland and in England between now and April.

All four are important to this woman, who brings a professional approach to everything she does, but one has a particular resonance because there’s a family connection.

In May, Some Call it Home will be performed at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing to the New World. It set out from Plymouth in September 1640, with 102 passengers and crew on board.  Most were Puritans and Separatists, fleeing religious persecution in England. Those who survived and settled in Massachusetts at a place they named Plymouth, became known collectively as the Pilgrims and were responsible for the first written constitution in America.

Jane and another musician, New York-based Jonathan Dawe were commissioned to write the score for Some Call it Home, a multi-media event which explores humans’ relationship with the earth and our environment, from the Mayflower crossing to the landing of Apollo 8 on the moon in 1968, when astronaut Bill Anders captured the famous image of our planet, Earthrise.

What the director of the piece, Robert Taub, didn’t know when he commissioned Jane to co-write Some Call it Home, was that she’s a direct descendent of one of the Mayflower passengers, Robert Warren.

Jane laughs as she says Warren produced many descendants, so she never thought too much about that lineage, although it did matter to her architect father.  Others from Warren’s direct line include the US Civil War general and President Ulysses S. Grant; President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and Alan B. Shepard, Jr. the first American in space and the fifth person to walk on the moon.

Jane grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, where at the age of four she took up piano of her own volition.

“I wanted to,” she says simply. She credits her mother, who had trained as an artist but worked as a housewife, for nurturing her creativity.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

New York-based Galwegian thrives in heart of virus epi-centre

Denise McNamara

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Tadhg Reynolds in Times Square, on the empty streets of Manhattan.

An aspiring entrepreneur and Galway native, who had just set up a digital marketing company in New York when the pandemic struck, continues to work twelve-hour days as companies scramble to stay afloat.

Tadhg Reynolds, 24, from Kinvara, left for a better life exactly a year ago, on graduating from NUIG with a degree in Business Information Systems.

On his arrival, he joined a digital marketing start-up in Manhattan focused on e-commerce before branching out on his own, concentrating on Facebook ads, email and Instagram posts for companies in the US as well as in Ireland.

And then Covid-19 sent shockwaves around the world.

America is now the epi-centre of the pandemic and New York has been hardest hit, with 12,000 new cases confirmed and 600 deaths recorded on the day Tadhg spoke to the Connacht Tribune.

Tadhg had been worried that his newly found business would fall by the wayside as digital marketing is usually the first thing cut in hard times.

“I’ve actually started taking on new clients – companies selling home exercise equipment, hand sanitisers, hand moisturisers are doing really well so I’m helping them capitalise and everything seems to be going ok,” he remarks.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Hospitals plan for anticipated virus upsurge

Dara Bradley

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ICU staff at Portiuncula Hospital – with a very clear message for the public. Photo taken by hospital staff because of visiting restrictions.

Extra space to store dead bodies prior to burials and cremations has been added at University Hospital Galway (UHG).

Upgrade works at the mortuary had already started prior to the Covid-19 crisis but additional capacity for potential coronavirus deaths was added as a worst case scenario precaution.

‘Preliminary talks’ about the possibility of opening a temporary field hospital in Galway, if in the worst-case scenario the four city hospitals fill-up, have also taken place as part of the HSE’s wide-ranging pandemic plans.

The capacity planning comes as Dr Pat Nash, Chief Clinical Director of Saolta Hospitals Group this week warned we are ‘far from over the hump’ in relation to Covid-19 infections and deaths, even though the public’s compliance with social distancing has slowed the spread of the virus.

The latest figures confirm there were a total of 128 positive cases of Covid-19 in Galway, as of midnight on Sunday, compared with 86 the previous Sunday. That’s up 42 cases in a week, but Sunday’s sharp rise of 16 new cases accounted for almost 40%.

Several hospital sources confirmed that temporary refrigerated prefabricated buildings have been installed alongside the morgue. These have increased by many multiples the 15 spaces in the existing, permanent morgue. An autopsy theatre at the morgue has been moved temporarily to the Fever Hospital building at UHG.

Members of the public who contacted the Connacht Tribune had noticed building work at the city morgue at UHG.

Dr Nash said some construction work was progressing beside the morgue on a new laboratory building that will accommodate the blood and tissue establishment unit. That unit was previously granted planning permission as part of an extension to the morgue.

 

See full story – and a further 20 pages of coverage of the Covid-19 crisis – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

NUIG research team found pandemic was long on the cards

Denise McNamara

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NUIG Professor Máire Connolly.

Back in 2017, a research report led by NUIG Professor Máire Connolly warned that the risk of a pandemic emerging was greater than ever before.

Influenza viruses originating in animals was first in the list of identified threats to human health.

“The timing and origin of the next pandemic is uncertain, but improved preparedness can minimise the impact on human lives and health, and the disruption to economies and societies that results,” she remarked on the publication of the EU ‘Pandem’ report following 18 months of research.

It was unfortunately all too prescient.

“It is a little bit eerie looking back,” Prof Connolly admits this week. “I don’t think we actually envisaged it would be as harrowing as it is.”

The Galway City native’s previous roles with the World Health Organisation (WHO) revolved around health security and disease control in emergencies. She worked with the organisation between 1995 and 2012, often at the heart of devastating crises in the likes of Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Iran, Gaza, East Timor, Uganda and Syria.

Her husband Mike Ryan, who she met in 1988 while studying medicine at NUIG, is currently at the forefront of the global battle against Covid-19 through his role as executive director of WHO’s health emergencies programme.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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