Lifestyle – Ninety-four-year-old Miko McInerney from Ardrahan played hurling for club and county and worked as a schoolteacher for many years. Highlights of his rich life have been captured by musician and broadcaster Ruth Smith in a video she made as part of a series initiated by Galway Town Hall Theatre, involving older people and local artists. She tells JUDY MURPHY how it came about.
“We’re all made of stories,” says singer and broadcaster Ruth Smith. That something she realised at a young age, thanks largely to her upbringing in her family-run pub, The Maples in Portumna. It was a place of storytelling, music and hurling conversations and she imbibed this rich heritage from childhood.
Ruth who presents Simply Folk on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday nights continues to cherish that tradition, so, when Fergal McGrath of Galway’s Town Hall Theatre contacted her in early Autumn, asking her to get involved in Bringing it All Back Home, she was delighted. Bringing it All Back Home is an initiative between Backstage Theatre in Longford, The Town Hall in Galway and the Pavilion in Dún Laoghaire that involves theatre-makers, musicians and writers engaging with older people – mostly residents of nursing and care homes, to present digital stories, based on their lives.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Backstage Theatre had asked Ruth to create a ‘visual poem’ on Longford musician Liam Rogers, whose parents had been lock-keepers. The process touched her deeply and the resulting video was so powerful that after seeing it, Fergal McGrath asked her do something similar here in Galway. Given her Portumna hurling heritage – her brothers, Leo, Peter and Andy are all noted players – Fergal suggested that she pair up with an older-generation hurler.
Ruth’s resulting video with 94-year-old Miko McInerney, who hurled with Ardrahan and Galway, is special as this born storyteller shares his memories of club and county hurling – including playing against the great Christy Ring and travelling to New York and Boston with the Galway hurlers in 1951. The retired schoolteacher sparkles with life and humour as he tells stories of attending Mass after an all-night poker session – having made the effort after a priest had complained that the hurlers were having so much fun, they were forgetting their spiritual duties. It’s fascinating too, as he describes how in the 1950s, when inter-county hurlers marked each other, they did so without speaking. Miko shares this information without comment – it was just how things were.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road
Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.
This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.
It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.
During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.
Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.
While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.
Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.
Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.
In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.
Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.
“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.
“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.
“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.
The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.
Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.
(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)
Teen arrested over €45,000 cocaine seizure
Gardaí have seized €45,000 of what they believe to be cocaine in Ballinasloe.
Gardaí attached to Ballinasloe Garda Station conducted an intelligence-led operation in the Dunlo Harbour area of the town yesterday.
During the course of this operation a quantity of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth €45,000, concealed on derelict grounds was seized.
A male in his mid-teens was arrested at the scene and detained at Ballinasloe Garda Station on Sunday.
He has since been released with a file being prepared for the Garda Youth Diversion Office.
The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels.
Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway
The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.
The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.
According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.
“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.
“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.
Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.
“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.
“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”
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