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Madness, creativity and hope in Druid production of Murphy plays Brigit and Bailegangaire

Judy Murphy

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Marie Mullen as Mommo and Catherine Walsh as Mary in Bailegangaire.

REVIEW – BRIGIT and BAILEGANGAIRE – Druid Theatre

Tom Murphy’s Bailegangaire, with its larger-than-life central character of Mommo, is one of the most powerful, challenging plays in Irish literature.

Mommo with her stories, her piseogs and her razor-sharp tongue, which is also capable of great tenderness, is as Irish as rain. Her two granddaughters, Mary and Dolly, were shaped in Ireland and could only be products of this country. Yet, their emotions – grief, disappointments, anger, love, hope – are universal. But while Bailegangaire has great humanity, it’s not an easy play either for actor or audience. Druid first staged it in 1985 when, under Garry Hynes’ direction, it was universally lauded. Now director and company have revived it, alongside a companion piece, Brigit, which getting its first stage outing.

Both stand alone, but are also being presented as a double bill, with Brigit offering an insight into the early life of Mommo, her husband Seamus and their grandchildren.

It’s an interesting mix. Bailegangaire, set in 1984 is a play where words flow in torrents, emotions overflow and tragedy lies close to the surface. Brigit, set in the 1950s, is an 80-minute piece; more restrained, and as much about the process of artistic creation as it is about domesticity.

Mommo’s husband Seamus (Bosco Hogan) is commissioned by the Reverend Mother of the local convent (Jane Brennan) to carve a wooden statue of St Brigit. His approach to the project, aided by Mommo (Marie Mullen), generates discussions about the transition from paganism to Christianity in Ireland. At times, it’s almost like a lesson in folklore. On other occasions, the play explores the grip of the Catholic Church on 1950s Ireland, with Seamus standing out from the crowd as he refuses to bow to its dominance. We get glimpses of the couple’s domestic routine as they care for their three orphaned grandchildren Mary, Dolly and Tom (Lily McBride, Ailbhe Birkett and Colm Conneely), but this play is more a vehicle to explore ideas and notions than a drama with real, vibrant characters. There are strong performances from all the cast, including Marty Rea as Fr Kilgarrif. It’s an interesting insight into the playwright’s creativity, but not his finest work.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Country Living

More than students need to learn for Leaving Cert 2021

Francis Farragher

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A time for support . . . not walkouts!

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Many moons ago when efforts were being made to teach me the rudiments of Maths, Irish and English along with various other disciplines, a common enough term in usage was ‘the teacher’s pet’.

In different times, it often applied to the son or daughter of the local doctor, councillor or maybe even a big shopkeeper. Us ordinary mortals would notice in those times that such classroom specimens would avoid, almost without fail, the tougher censures of the múinteoir which included the leather, stick or sometimes just the bare knuckles.

It didn’t happen all the time or with every teacher but those were very different times in Irish education and there weren’t many of us who actually looked forward to going to school, whether that it be at primary or secondary level.

A revolution occurred, maybe a quiet and seamless one, but a revolution nonetheless, that changed the whole texture of Irish education. Somewhere, along the way, kids started to like going to school, and it was wonderful.

In terms of a teaching career, I came close enough to going down that path of life myself bravely armed with a BA and the prized H. Dip. (Higher Diploma in Education) back in the early 1980s, but the old tributaries of life took me in a different direction.

To this day, I really doubt if I would have had the patience for an occupation, which does require more than its fair share of positive human attributes like compassion, empathy, engagement and that critical quality of being able to impart knowledge in a reasonably light-handed fashion.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Planting seeds of change for a bright future

Judy Murphy

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Klaus, in pre-Covid times, at Renvyle House Hotel, giving a demonstration on how to dig ‘lazy beds’ . He explains their benefits in the book, with diagrams on how to create them.

Lifestyle – More people than ever took up gardening during the lockdown of Spring 2020. Now, organic champion Klaus Laitenberger has written a new book designed for those who want to become self-sufficient in growing vegetables and fruit.  Feeding a family takes only a small amount of land and the returns are enormous in many ways, as he explains to JUDY MURPHY.

These are the days when, according to the poets, young men’s fancies (and women’s too, for gender equality!) lightly turn to thoughts of love. But with our current restrictions, unless you’re already safely bubbled up in your love nest, it’d be better to focus the mind elsewhere.

Spring is also the time when gardeners get a glint in their eyes and if you haven’t already embraced the idea of growing your own fruit and vegetables, now is the perfect time.

For those who have already dipped their toe in the soil and want further adventures, a new book by the hugely regarded organic farmer and lecturer, Klaus Laitenberger, has just hit the shelves.

The Self-Sufficient Garden is a comprehensive guide to growing enough vegetables and fruit to feed a family of four all through the year. According to Klaus – who knows his onions – you don’t need a whole lot of land to do this. In fact, a family of four eager vegetable eaters could be totally self-sufficient on 400 square metres, although that requires a polytunnel. That’s one of three options he offers in the book – the other two focus on growing outdoors and being partially sufficient.

But the modest requirement of 400 square metres (about 1/10 of an acre) shows how easily Ireland could feed itself if we went down that route, he says. On those figures, one acre could feed 10 families or 25 families per hectare and just Rosiner(?) 50,000 hectares could provide vegetables for five million people – which is only a fraction of the land in Ireland.

“People are being drawn back to the land,” says German-born Klaus, who in normal times, gives lectures and talks on organic farming all over the country. “Gardening was a handy distraction during lockdown but many will stick with it.”

This is a development that Klaus, who has been living in Ireland for more than 20 years, welcomes.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

Stephen Corrigan

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Teatime on the Morrissey Farm in Clonshee, Ahascragh in June 1951. Pictured beside the mowing machine and horses Charlie and Bly is John Morrissey with six of his 12 children, Joseph, Seán, Eileen, Michael, Annie and Willie.

1921

Growing neglect

The meeting of the County Galway National Teachers’ Association merits the attention of a considerably wider body than that which may be said to have a professional interest in education.

These meetings, which are held primarily for purposes of organisation, have an absorbing interest and a vital concern for all who desire the future well-being of our young people.

Whilst conditions of employment must naturally be an important concern for primary teachers, Saturday’s meeting revealed the fact that their minds are exercised by the deplorable and growing neglect of primary education.

The statement of the outgoing chairman that out of seven hundred thousand school-going children, there are two hundred thousand absentees from the national schools every day; this compels immediate attention and demands effective action on the part of all whose duty it is to enforce attendance at school.

That means that nearly one-third of the pupils are absent from school daily. There could be no graver reflection on the parent, the public bodies and their school attendance committees and the spiritual directors than that thirty out of every one hundred pupils are absent from the schools every day.

“Do the people,” as the chairman asked, “realise the havoc such a state of things works amongst us as a nation? Is it any wonder that so many of our countrymen and countrywomen are condemned to a life of drudgery, bordering upon a condition of slavery, at home and abroad.”

In recent years we have heard much of the attractiveness of school programmes, but the obvious inference from this lamentable disclosure would appear to be that children dislike that “dry drudgery at the desk’s dead wood,” or that they are neither encouraged nor compelled by their parents or guides to thread the path of learning.

Whatever the cause, the fact is a national scandal.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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