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Connacht Tribune

Lovely hurling as Miko meets Ruth

Judy Murphy

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Legendary hurler Miko McInerney shares many memories in Ruth Smith’s video.

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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Connacht Tribune

Compliant Galwegians are keeping their distance

Francis Farragher

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Checkpoint...Garda warning for those who stray too far from home.

BOY racers, cyclists, gym users and young people attending house parties are among those in Galway who have been issued with Fixed Payment Notices (FPNs) for breaching the Covid-19 travel regulations over the past week.

However, Gardaí in Galway have reported ‘a very high-level of compliance’ from the general public as regards the travel restrictions that are a central part of the Level-5 ‘Stay Home – Stay Safe’ Covid campaign.

Over the weekend, Gardaí issued FPNs to so-called ‘boy racers’ in two separate cases on the Tuam Road outside Galway city and in the Craughwell area.

FPNs – involving a €100 on-the-spot fine – were also issued last week to a number of young people attending house parties in the Galway city area, after Gardaí had been called to the scene.

Two cyclists stopped in the Cornamona area of North Connemara last week, who were 19 kilometres from their homes – and outside their own county boundary – also faced Garda censure.

The cyclists weren’t from the same household; they weren’t wearing masks; and also, were in breach of social distancing regulations.

Gardaí also came across a case of a gym in South Galway being used by a number of people last week – also a breach of the Covid-19, Level-5 restrictions.

While Gardaí also received a number of calls about possible ‘pub-opening’ violations, on investigation, they found no sign of activity on the premises they checked out.

Galway Chief Garda Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Connacht Tribune that overall, there was ‘a very high level of compliance’ as regards the travel restrictions which was ‘very encouraging’.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Lessons learned on home-schooling

Denise McNamara

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Cathal Moore, principal of the Presentation Athenry.

Home-schooling is working better this time round with many teachers conducting live classes and more students actively engaging than when schools closed suddenly last March.

But virtual education is a poor substitute for the experience of the classroom with students sorely missing social interaction, according to teachers, while parents are still struggling to balance working from home with ensuring their children keep up with the school work.

The sooner that schools can reopen safely the better for everyone – although most agree that it’s looking more likely to be after mid-term than at the beginning of February.

“Everybody is in a better place this time round – schools, teachers, parents and students. Everybody expected to be back at school. It’s no secret last time we got two hours’ notice but this time round we’re better prepared,” remarks the principal of the Presentation Athenry, Cathal Moore.

The mixed secondary school is doing a mix of live and recorded classes as not every student has good broadband.

After the first week, there was feedback from students that they felt there was too much homework in addition to the virtual classes while teachers reported that they would prefer more live communication from their charges.

“It is more tiring – fatigue is definitely a factor when on a screen all day and if this goes on for a prolonged amount of time it will creep in for a growing number of students.”

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

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Connacht Tribune

Hard-pressed hospitals down 450 staff over Covid

Dara Bradley

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More than 450 staff – including nurses at UHG and Portiuncula – are now out of work due to Covid, as staff shortages threaten the public hospitals’ ability to cope with the crisis.

The upsurge has seen UHG deal with a record number of Covid-19 patients, and the hospital had to escalate its surge capacity plan and add extra beds in ICU.

The latest CSO figures reveal that the first week of the New Year was Galway’s deadliest yet on the pandemic front, with five lives lost over those opening seven days of 2021.

That brought the total number of virus fatalities in Galway to 25, and it’s understood there have been further deaths locally since then, which will be confirmed later.

From March to the end of November there were 20 deaths notified in Galway, and no further deaths were recorded in all of December.

News of Galway’s deadliest week comes as local leaders in the HSE, Garda, and local government joined forces to warn that Covid-19 was still spreading rapidly in the community.

Nationally, between January 5 and 18, there were 263 Covid-19 deaths recorded, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC), which does not give a geographical breakdown. Of these deaths, 119 were hospitalised and 14 had been admitted to ICU.

The median age of all of Galway’s Covid fatalities is 83; the median age of the confirmed cases in Galway is 31 – the lowest of 26 counties.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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