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Mid-life crisis led Ger to star in ‘Dead School’

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Ger Howard as Raphael Bell in The Dead School, which will be staged at the Town Hall Theatre from next Thursday as part of the venue's 20th anniversary celebratons. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

When Ger Howard decided, at the age of 50, to put his family shop and small hotel up for lease so he could attend drama school and pursue a life-long passion for acting, his sister asked him if he was having a mid-life crisis.

“Maybe I was,” says the Clareman with a laugh. “But I thought if I didn’t take the chance I’d always regret it.”

That was 10 years ago and this talented actor, who was a long-time member of the amateur Burren Players, hasn’t had time for regrets since then.

Galway director Maureen Hughes, who is based in Dublin, guided Ger towards Decadent Theatre when he finished his training. Its artistic director Andrew Flynn is also in charge of Galway Youth Theatre and has cast Ger in several Decadent plays and Youth Theatre co-productions since then. In addition, Ger has worked on films and TV dramas, so the Lisdoonvarna man has been kept busy.

Last year he played a blinder as school teacher Raphael Bell in a new stage adaptation of Pat McCabe’s comically black novel, The Dead School, during Galway Arts Festival.

This sell-out production, from Galway Youth Theatre and Galway Community Theatre, directed by Andrew Flynn, has now been revived, in a co-production between Decadent Theatre and the City’s Town Hall Theatre. It will be performed at the Town Hall from February 22-27 as part of the celebrations for the theatre’s 20th anniversary. After that, it embark on a tour to several venues around the country.

Ger Howard returns as Raphael for this revival while Jarlath Tivnan reprises the role of fellow primary teacher and Raphael’s arch-enemy, Malachy Dudgeon. Several other members of the original cast are also back, but some were unavailable due to exam commitments, explains Andrew Flynn. And while the original production had a 25 people on stage, numbers will be reduced for the tour because of financial constraints.  He’s currently re-directing the play with that in mind, but for the Town Hall run, the aim is to remain as true to the original production as possible.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

One half of Hollywood’s golden couple sings Galway’s praises after trip

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Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello and his chihuahua Bubbles, with Fergus Lally of Galway’s Celtic Chauffeurs at the Cliffs of Moher.

He may be married to the highest paid actress in the world, but that did not stop Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello savouring the best that Galway had to offer – hailing the people, the cheese, chocolate and salmon during his trip west.

The American actor, who played stripper Big Dick Richie in Steven Soderbergh’s box office hit Magic Mike, was not joined by Modern Family’s Sofía Vergara until a week later on his trip around Cork.

But he did ring his wife of six years in the US while exploring the countryside of south Galway and Clare with guide, Fergus Lally, who had picked him and his chihuahua Bubbles up from the Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Bushypark on the city’s edge.

“I had a great time with him. I brought him to the Cliffs of Moher and along the way we stopped off at the Hazel Mountain Chocolate factory, the cheese shop at the Aillwee Caves and he had a tasting at the Burren Smoke House in Lisdoonvarna,” reveals Fergus.

“He had an amazing time tasting all the foods. The back of the car was full – everybody did well out of him. He was blown away with the places I brought him. He loved the history of the Corcomroe Abbey and Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara. He was a great guy. I was delighted to drive him. The two of us just clicked.”

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

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Connacht Tribune

Covid-19 outbreak compounds UHG crisis

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UHG's Emergency Department.

As Government applied the brakes on the planned full reopening of society this Friday, the West’s largest public hospital remained in a state of crisis – dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks, large numbers of patients and lengthy wait times in its Emergency Department and postponed elective procedures.

An outbreak of Covid-19 at University Hospital Galway (UHG) was having a significant impact on critical care services, Saolta University Healthcare Group has warned.

UHG confirmed it was dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks on two wards of the city hospital. A further two wards were being used exclusively to treat Covid positive cases.

This was impacting other patients – elective procedures were postponed at UHG this week due a lack of beds.

On Monday, 41 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in UHG compared with 19 the same day last week.

Portiuncula was treating eight Covid positive patients on Monday, twice as many as last week.

There were two Covid patients in ICU in Ballinasloe and six in ICU in UHG; there were four in ICU in total at both hospitals last week.

Saolta said that people presenting at the Emergency Department in UHG were experiencing long waiting times.

“The hospital has seen a significant increase in patients presenting to the hospital and many of these patients are very sick and need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.

“As a result of the ongoing pressures and lack of bed capacity a number of elective procedures are being postponed. Patients are being contacted directly if their procedure is being postponed,” Saolta said.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Galway lecturer’s transatlantic story of Boston dynasty and Irish roots

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Larry Donnelly, with the Bostonian, on the grounds of NUI Galway.

Of all the transatlantic cultural differences that greeted Bostonian Larry Donnelly on arrival in Galway, the search for a clean towel in something called a hot press left him puzzled and perplexed most of all. He also came to quickly realise that Hoover had so conquered the vacuum cleaner market that the brand name had become a verb.

But the Boston-born son of an Irish father and Scottish mother – from a famed American political dynasty with roots firmly embedded in Galway and the west – found infinitely more that united his old and new home than divided them.

His voice is familiar to radio listeners from his frequent analysis of American politics; his thoughts are already well-known to readers of his weekly column in TheJournal.ie – and law students at NUIG have benefited from his expertise in that field on both sides of the Atlantic.

He spent a fair portion of lockdown writing the Bostonian, a biography in part – not just his own, but of his family and his uncle, US Congressman Brian Donnelly (the man forever synonymous with the Donnelly Visas) in particular.

Typical of him, he rarely puts himself centre-stage but what he succeeds in doing is putting his life, his work and his journey into context. He was a man with roots on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean long before he ever made the journey to live here.

The photo on the cover of the Bostonian sets out the stall for the book, uniting uncle and nephew in an iconic pic; US Congressman Brian Donnelly marching in the 1983 Dorchester Day Parade in Boston – and an eight-year-old Larry Donnelly in the baseball cap looking up in wonderment.

“I’d always intended it to be a book about more than me. I particularly wanted it to be the story of Brian’s political career because that deserves to be told – but I didn’t think he would allow that to happen, because he has always loathed the limelight,” he says.

Read the full story – and an exclusive excerpt from the Bostonian – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie  

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