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Loughrea opens window on its medieval past




Loughrea was packed to capacity last weekend with close on 15,000 people from home and abroad attending the various events held in the town as part of its Medieval Festival.

Everything from a Medieval Banquet to puppeteers and from lectures and tours to children’s workshops ensured that the weekend had something for everyone.

The weekend commenced with a Medieval Banquet in the Loughrea Hotel and Spa, where over 250 people attended this night of fun and merriment – and several dressed up in medieval costumes.

The Temperance Hall was the centre of medieval creativity for over 450 children where they part-took in medieval games and archaeologist Anne Carey introduced a number of them to the skills of medieval calligraphy and investigated the amazing gold works of the period. Over 400 people attended the jousting picnic at the ‘Walks’ where medieval Knights battled it out on horse-back.

The Hall was also the venue for an outstanding puppet shows and paper bag puppet making by Carmel Balfe.

Loughrea Library hosted two packed to capacity heritage lectures one was a fascinating lecture by Clodagh Doyle from the National Museum about early hair hurling balls, while Dr. Jim McKeon gave a very insightful talk on the archaeology of medieval Loughrea.

This was followed by genealogical workshops from Western Family History Association, East Galway Genealogical Centre and Ireland Reaching Out.

Several restaurants, pubs, bakeries and businesses offered medieval fine dining and sustinance over the weekend and a number of shops decorated their windows with various medieval themes.

Over 100 people took the opportunity to visit Clonfert Diocesan museum and view their wonderful medieval collection that includes the Kilcorban Madonna that dates from c1180AD and the ‘Matheus Macraith’ chalice that is over 500 years old.

New additions to the weekend this year included the medieval tavern trail, the tug-o-war and the medieval busking competition that drew large crowds.

In excess of 240 people attended a wonderful Latin mass in the ruins of the Carmelite Abbey. It was a very moving and atmospheric event with mass commencing at dusk. There, mellifluous singing of the choir added to the ambience of the mass. Many of those in attendance had never been in the ruined abbey previously.

People had the opportunity to travel back in time to medieval Loughrea where they could see a 3D model of the town with its moat, earthen banks, the priory, castle and see the inhabitants who lived in the town.

This project is being developed by Realsim and is being funded by Loughrea Medieval Festival Committee, Galway County Council and the Heritage Council.

Sunday saw a group of over 100 people start the day off with heritage walks around the town with Colman Shaughnessy and Joe Loughnane.

This was followed by a Grand Clan Parade and then by a Walled Towns Family Fun Day.

Displays and events included a medieval weapons talk and demonstration, butter making, spinning, basket making, leather works, archers, potters, blacksmiths, woodturning, traditional crafts workshops, archaeological dig, bee keeping, circus skills workshops, traditional games, the medieval photo booth, medieval Olympics, boat trips on the lake and a falconry display.

It also saw the launch a special commemorative Loughrea Medieval Coin by Cllr. Peter Roche, Cathaoirleach, Galway County Council.  This was followed by the launch of Dr. Fiona Beglane’s magnificent book on ‘Anglo-Norman Parks in Ireland’.

“The partnership between local businesses, local communities, Galway County Council, The Irish Walled Towns Network and the Heritage Council in developing the Medieval Festival is very welcome and much needed to promote and sustain our community, our heritage and be a driver for tourism for the town and hinterland,” said Loughrea Medieval Festival Committee Chairperson Cllr. Michael Maher.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story 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

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell



Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – 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

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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