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Connacht Tribune

Love of music has Amy reaching for stars

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Amy Harman.

Lifestyle – Bassoonist Amy Harman grew up surrounded by politics as her mother Harriet Harman was deputy leader of the British Labour Party and her father Jack Dromey is also a Labour MP. But from childhood, music was her passion. As Amy prepares to perform at Music for Galway’s Midwinter Festival, she discusses performance, politics and Brexit with JUDY MURPHY.

Classical musicians often have a reputation for being formal and bound by the conventions of their profession, but Amy Harman is part of a new generation who believes in opening up the genre to a wider audience. She’s so dedicated to the cause that, for one production with the Birmingham Opera, the acclaimed bassoonist played her instrument flying high on a trapeze.

That was a few years ago, but London-born Amy says, “I’m delighted to be forever associated with being a flying soloist”.  And she will be bringing that attitude to Galway from January 17-19 when she’ll be taking part in the annual Music for Galway Midwinter Festival

The Birmingham gig was no easy task. It involved spending all day in a trapeze on the roof of a factory for a performance of an opera by the 20th Century German composer Stockhausen.

Stockhausen is a notoriously difficult composer, and “to memorise 45 minutes of his music is no easy feat”, Amy observes. Never mind performing it while flying high above the audience.

“It was nothing like anything anyone had seen before,” she recalls. But Amy points to her father as an example how this unusual approach attracted new fans to music that isn’t exactly regarded as easy listening.

“My dad said it was the best thing he’d ever seen.”

Amy’s dad is Labour MP Jack Dromey, who was raised in Kilburn in London but whose family roots are in Cashel, County Tipperary.

As a child, Amy holidayed regularly in Ireland and has previously visited Galway in a professional capacity, performing in a Music for Galway concert three years ago.

As she’s talking, her 18-month-old daughter, who “is very vocal”, is in the background vying for her attention, so Amy moves to another room, leaving the child in the care of her father, who’s also a musician.

“He’s a horn player and we met sitting next to each other as most people do in our line of work,” she says.

It was never a given that Amy would follow this line of work, because politics rather than music dominated her childhood.

Her mother Harriet Harman has been a leading light in the British Labour Party for decades, having served as its acting leader, deputy leader and as a minister under Tony Blair.  Harriet Harman is also a former Solicitor General for England and Wales and holds the title Mother of the House of Commons, as she’s its longest continuously-serving female MP.

In a Labour party riven by divided loyalties over Brexit, Amy’s parents were Remainers and her mother especially got a lot of flak in the right-wing UK media. Now that it’s all over and the date of Brexit is looming ever closer, Amy says “it’s all pretty dismal. It’s a real shame”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’

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Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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Connacht Tribune

Storm Barra to bring coastal flooding and disruption to Galway

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Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West on Tuesday, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said,

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Connacht Tribune

Cancer Care West helps cope with loss

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Declan and Ailish Scully and their children presenting a cheque to Cancer Care West for money raised for their Chrismas swim, in memory of Aidan.

A Galway family has revealed their heartbreaking grief at the loss of a son and brother – to pay tribute to the Galway cancer charity that offered such support at their darkest hour.

Aidan Scully died of cancer in early 2020 – but as his mum Ailish talks about her son, the essence of this fine young man shines through her story.

The Moycullen native was only in this world a short time, but he lived his time well – and he left a lifetime of good memories for his parents, his five siblings, his wider family and many friends.

Ailish talks of a quiet and gentle child, an uncomplicated teenager, an ambitious young man about to embark on his chosen university course, the uncomplaining patient and finally the accepting soul who peacefully left them that night.

During Aidan’s illness the family turned to Cancer Care West and the Galway Hospice for support. At Cancer Care West, Aidan, his parents Declan and Ailish and siblings Eoin, Niamh, Sinead, Ciaran and Kevin availed of the counselling services which they found extremely helpful as they coped with his diagnosis and treatment.

Aidan also availed of the cancer rehab physiotherapy service to help him stay strong. And following Aidan’s passing the family sought bereavement counselling with the Cancer Care West team they had come to know so well.

At times Ailish saw the Galway support centre as a home from home as different family members came and went for appointments.

“Declan and I want to say a big thank you to Dr Helen Greally and her team,” said Ailish.

“They have been an amazing support for us throughout this time, helping us all deal with the trauma of Aidan’s diagnosis and his untimely death.

“It’s so important to have someone to talk to at times like this, someone professional who is not part of your normal everyday life.

“It gives you the space to work through so many emotions and helps you find the strength to move forward each day,” she added.

The loss of Aidan is still very raw and Ailish and her family have a way to go yet to find some peace and acceptance – but each of them is finding their own path forward and getting on with a life that, despite the enormous hole in it, has happy moments and good times.

As for Ailish, every day she wakes to thoughts of Aidan and the pain of his loss.

But sometimes something will happen, like a butterfly landing on her hand – and she is reminded that he is never far away from her and while she can no longer hold him in her arms, she is always holding him in her heart.

 

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