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Connacht Tribune

Legacy of a life cut short during the Vietnam War

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Extended members of the O'Reilly family gathered in Moycullen to celebrate the life and achievements of their brother, uncle and relative, First Lieutenant, Anthony O'Reilly on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his death. Photos: Joe O'shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – Galwayman Anthony O’Reilly died in action serving as a US solider in Vietnam in 1968. As his family honour him 50 years on, his niece Hilary tells STEPHEN CORRIGAN about Tony’s extraordinary life.

The Vietnam War was a defining event of the 20th Century – and one Galway man was at the coalface, ultimately losing his life on the battlefield at just 30 years old.

That man was First Lieutenant Anthony O’Reilly, a native of Eyre Street in Galway City, who is this year being remembered by his family on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Tony grew up in Galway – went to school in St Joseph’s (the Bish) and excelled at rowing. It was a very ordinary life before he left his native land; and though his death was premature, the eight years he spent as a US soldier were nothing short of extraordinary.

The circumstances in which Tony joined the US Army aren’t altogether clear to his family but there are at least two stories that seem credible, explains his niece, Hilary McLoughlin.

“After school, we think he wanted to join the British Army and went off to London but there, he ended up joining the US Army,” says Hilary.

“My cousin tells a story that my uncle Liam never got over his death because he was with him that night and he felt he should have persuaded him to stick with the British Army, but they met these American GIs and they had offered him more money.”

An alternative story is that Tony wanted to go to America and to get a Green Card, it was necessary to enlist for three years – but he was there for eight years when he died.

“We don’t think it was his career ambition to join the army but when he did join it, he loved it – he applied to go to Officers’ School and got it and that’s how he ended up in [the US army base] Fort Benning,” says Hilary. “He was in Germany, based in Frankfurt, for about five years and we do know that he was involved with the Bay of Pigs operation in Cuba,” she adds.

These are just some of the stories his family recalled at a memorial held in Tony’s honour last month.

Some 50 of them gathered at Hilary’s Moycullen home to commemorate a man most had never met – a testament to the impact he had on those who do remember him, she says.

“His two brothers have died but his sisters are still alive. His sister, Irene, was over from America, my mother Pauline and her sister Joan were here. His sister-in-law came over from England and all my generation of cousins were here. My uncle Peter’s family were represented by his children and they came from the UK and Dublin.”

She feels it was apt, on the 50th anniversary of his death, to confront the grief of his loss – something that was too difficult for the family in the immediate aftermath of his death.

“It was about two things, really; it’s about recognising the sacrifice this man made and recognising that war may seem heroic, but the reality is that war is ugly.

“And it’s about laying the sadness of our family to rest and achieving some peace for the older generation for their loss,” she says.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Country Living

A day when Tuam Races put paid to the innocence of a young punter

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The date was Friday, July 31, 1970, and the race was the Carling Black Label Maiden Plate with Lucky in Love, ridden by P. Sullivan just edging it from None Better with M. Kennedy on the saddle. The Tuam Races drew large crowds for their one big day of the year before the reins were pulled in 1973. Photo researched by Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

I couldn’t even remotely claim to have any knowledge of the gee-gees although here and there I’d have the odd little flutter on a horse, and of late, Pateen has been kind enough to me with a couple of good wins across the water. Pateen of course is called after Galway three-in-a-row start, Pat or ‘Pateen’ Donellan, with his original owner, the late Michael Corcoran of solid Dunmore stock.

My childhood memory of horses probably relates to that of many people of a certain generation where the horse – and indeed the donkey as well – were the mainstays of farming life and especially for ageing farmers who just had no interest whatsoever in the purchase of a second-hand or a rebuilt Massey Ferguson. (Ruanes of Athenry were the great specialists of the time in rebuilt Masseys).

We owned the most imperious of a black gelding, his only concession to colour contrast being a white face, and whose pulling power was lauded across the village. But he was never an animal to be taken for granted and especially during the later summer season when the quills or horse flies could provoke him into a sudden and sometimes violent enough tantrum. Only my father could handle him with a mixture of firmness and platitudes but our equine warrior still managed to overturn a load or two of oats or hay when negotiating dodgy gaps that bit too impatiently.

His ageing demise and subsequent sale coincided with my journey into teenage years and that loss of childhood innocence when the realisation strikes that life is transient, made all the more poignant by the fact that it coincided with the gradual decline of my father as he slipped into the 70s and the sunset years of life.

The Galway Races though were always special even if we didn’t venture into Ballybrit that much as a family, as invariably there was always hay to be saved, although a ‘concession’ would often be made in terms of calling into a neighbour’s house with a television to watch The Hurdle or The Plate.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Cool the jets – let’s give Galway sideline supremos a fair hearing

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Mayo's Aidan O'Shea feels the strain against Galway's Cathal Sweeney and Seán Mulkerrin during Sunday's Connacht Football Final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus /Sportsfile.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IN all my years (more like decades) involved in hurling, I have never seen a team play the game at a faster pace than what Waterford did for 55 minutes in Thurles last Saturday. They were like Olympic sprinters and Galway simply couldn’t keep up with them in the open expanses of Semple Stadium.

Galway hurlers have often plumbed the depths when least expected, but trailing by 16 points after three quarters of Saturday’s knock-out clash was a total shock to the system. We know the Tribesmen have a terrible record against Waterford, but this was embarrassing and unacceptable for a team which had been touted as Limerick’s chief threat.

Though Galway are understandably getting some credit for their grandstand finish, it’s only papering over the cracks and, let’s be honest, there would probably have been no comeback at all only for Waterford being reduced to 14 players for the entire second-half. And then having whittled the deficit down from 16 points to three and all the momentum behind them with over six minutes still left to be played, they were found wanting again.

After substitute Jason Flynn’s first goal, there were five more scores and Waterford got four of them. That alone tells you that Liam Cahill’s men had more of what it takes to succeed at this level. Waterford were in disarray but somehow were able to find the inspiration to get over the line.

Meeting Galway supporters before the game, we shared the same concerns about the men in maroon jerseys. Eyebrows were raised by the team chosen and some of the positions players were picked in. Having failed to raise much of a gallop against Dublin, Galway should have been straining at the leash to achieve some redemption. Instead, they were worse; swept aside by a ravenous Waterford team which had everything their opponents didn’t

Though leaving Daithí Burke at centre-back didn’t cost Galway the game, it was still stubborn of the team management to stick to their guns when his zealous patrolling of the square continued to be so blatantly missed. Keeping faith with the unrelated Cooneys’, Joseph and Conor, also attracted criticism.

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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Connacht Tribune

Evoke broaden their sound to fuse Motown with folk!

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Evoke...new single from Loughrea four-piece.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

Almost a year on from the release of their debut EP, Loughrea four-piece Evoke are back, with their fourth studio single Sorry than Safe. And the track sees the group push themselves in its arrangement and production – experimenting with Motown-style rhythm and soul, while retaining the folk sensibilities that run through their extended catalogue.

It was August of last year when the Revelations EP came to life and progress has naturally stalled through multiple lockdowns.

Having found themselves in need of work to replace the income lost during the national pause on live music, the band has been busy in the intervening eleven months – but not quite in the circumstances they had hoped to be. Sorry than Safe has been in the pipeline since that EP’s conception so realising the song as a finished article now feels like a big moment.

“We’d just come off the release of the EP and we went down and recorded this song and another one off the cuff,” recalls lead singer Keagan Forde.

“It was a tough song to blend with everything we wanted. The banjo is at the root of our sound all the time and it’s something we really wanted to keep in but with this, it was really difficult to blend the banjo into such a dense mix. The drums are really thick, the bass is really thick, there are layers of organs and vocals and guitars… layers upon layers of everything and trying to arrange the banjo and get it to sit in nicely caused a few headaches.

“It was tough to navigate staying true to our own sound and what we’re able to replicate live but making the most of the production and throwing ourselves into that. It’s our most complicated song if that makes sense. For two and a half minutes, there’s a lot going on.”

Given the time the band spent toiling over the single, it is no surprise to hear Keagan emphasise the importance of the production on Sorry than Safe. The song feels like a marked studio upgrade, and it seems to have required plenty of planning. Having orchestrated the EP in the leadup to the recording of the song, the group benefitted heavily from its increasing recording experience.

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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