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Connacht Tribune

Love of music has Amy reaching for stars

Judy Murphy

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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

SMEs set their sights on Euro expansion

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Kevin Moran of IMS Marketing accepting the ‘Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development, with Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon and Nan Gou, Programme Director, ESMT Berlin.

Irish entrepreneurs have the skills, products and services to break down barriers across Europe, according to one Galway-based marketing agency that is helping SMEs enter new markets.

Kevin Moran, Managing Director of IMS Marketing in Galway, said that this creativity and enthusiasm allows Irish entrepreneurs to punch above their weight in new markets.

He was speaking after his IMS Marketing was honoured for its ‘Enter-the-Eurozone’ Programme which has helped 19 SMEs break into Europe.

And he urged all SMEs to continue to set their ambitions on export markets as we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions and revisit the challenges of Brexit.

Mr Moran said that IMS Marketing, along with its partners, Enterprise Ireland and ESMT Berlin, was delighted to receive the Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development.

“The vision for the ‘Enter the Eurozone’ Programme was to enable progressive Irish SMEs  to enter a new Eurozone market in a strategically led way,” he said.

“Export markets will be more important than ever for Irish companies and jobs as they now face the twin threat of Brexit and a post Covid19 economic recession.”

Accepting the Award’ from the EFMD, Mr Moran said that his company witnessed the strength of the Irish SME sector during the delivery of the award-winning ‘Enter the Eurozone’ programme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Businesses miss out on restart grant

Stephen Corrigan

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Mr. Kenneth Deery. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure
CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery

Just one-third of Galway business eligible for the Government’s Restart Grant have actually applied for the scheme which aims to bolster small enterprise as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

It was revealed this week that businesses in Galway City and County have received almost €4.5 million in grant aid under the scheme which offers grants of between €2,000 and €10,000 to commercial rates-liable enterprises.

To qualify for the €250 million scheme, businesses must have an annual turnover of less than €5 million; have 50 or fewer employee; and have a projected loss of revenue of 25% or more.

CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery said there were many Galway businesses that had yet to apply for the grants, despite the fact that they were entitled to do so.

Only around 1,100 of the about 3,000 businesses in the city and county that may be due a pay-out have applied, and confusion over eligibility was contributing to that issue, he explained.

“Some businesses are of the view that they’re not eligible, but they need to realise that even if they only paid €500 or €1,000 in rates in 2019, they could still be eligible for €2,000,” he said.

Those who were in rates arrears were also entitled to the grant, said Mr Deery, adding that as long as a business had a rates liability in 2019, they could apply for the grant.

“The payment have just started being paid out to those who applied about two months ago, so it has been slow in terms of progressing those applications.

“What I would be saying to small businesses is that they would need to sell a lot of cups of coffee or a lot of sandwiches to make €2,000 or €5,000 in profit,” said Mr Deery.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Galway embraces Mass changes

Stephen Corrigan

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Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford wearing a mask during the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Kinvara, on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Parishioners in Kinvara made a long-awaited return to weekend services on Saturday at St Joseph’s Church, and while it was far from business as usual, mass-goers expressed delight at their return to the church.

Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford said while there were necessary changes to what people would be accustomed to, the congregation was understanding of why that was necessary and thankful that the implementation of these measures meant they could return to services after a four-month absence.

As part of Phase 3 of the easing of restrictions, services of up to 50 people were allowed, and to respect physical distancing, that meant two seats in every three were blocked off, said Fr Hugh.

“Households can sit together, but at the moment, we have the limit of 50 people, but we hope that will change in the next phase. We have to advise people who are more vulnerable that they should consider staying at home for the time being,” he explained.

The obligation to attend Mass has been lifted since the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, continued Fr Hugh, meaning that people need not worry if they are unable to attend.

For the Eucharist, the Priest and Eucharistic Ministers wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser to ensure there is no cross-contamination, with Communion administered to people in their seats, said Fr Hugh.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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