Date Published: 28-Apr-2011
After a quarter of a century in the financial sector – and at the age of 52 – Michael Duke went to Hollywood.
If ever there was a poster boy for embarking on a career sea change it is the quietly spoken Mr Duke, who has lived in Galway for 15 years having spent half his life in Japan and the other half in the US and UK.
So how does a financier and Harvard business graduate end up a film producer?
It’s a story that’s almost worthy of a screenplay itself and begins with a court case that gripped the nation.
The trial of housewife Sharon Collins and Essam Eid, an Egyptian poker dealer, read more like the plot of a Coen Brothers fantasy than something out of the Central Criminal Court.
In 2008, the Ennis mother-of-two was convicted of soliciting Eid to murder her partner, property tycoon PJ Howard, and his two sons Niall and Robert, in order to become the beneficiary of an estate said to be worth €60m.
After her lover ignored her pleas to wed after eight years together, Collins secured a fake marriage licence online.
Then from an email address and using the alias ‘Lying Eyes’, she contacted Los Vegas-based Eid on the website he had set up, www.hitmanforhire.net. He posed as mafioso Tony Luciano.
For a fee of $90,000, a plan was hatched for the three to be poisoned to death by spiking their drinks with ricin. Enough of the substance to kill 100,000 people was later discovered in a contact lens case in Eid’s cell in Limerick Prison.
But the plot went awry when instead of going through with the poisoning, Eid contacted Robert Howard and offered him a chance to buy his family out of the contract killing for €100,000. Eid showed him photos of himself and his family and had driving directions to their homes.
Instead of giving into blackmail, Robert told the gardaí. Eid, his wife Teresa Engle – who carried the ricin through Shannon Airport – and Sharon Collins were all arrested.
PJ Howard spent €250,000 trying to stand up Collin’s alibi. She claimed she was the victim of blackmail by Maria Marconi, to whom she had revealed details of her private life in an online writing course. The Ennis businessman has vowed to resume their relationship on her release next year.
The story was so fantastical that prosecution barrister Úna Ní Raifeartaigh felt it necessary to remind the jury this was not entertainment. Eid used to joke that he wanted Al Pacino to play him in a screen version of his story.
Michael was agog.
He had never done anything with the film business before but felt compelled to sit down and write a screenplay based on the eight-week trial.
He was also in the middle of a hiatus with his career.
The son of American parents, he was raised in Japan after his father was posted there as a diplomat.
“I used to think in Japanese, I’d always add numbers in Japanese. It wasn’t till my 20s I changed to thinking in English. I have certain Japanese trait. I nod my head a lot – even if I don’t agree with something. If I’m referring to myself I touch my nose which they do in Japan instead of touching the chest,” explains Michael.
He studied political science at the University of Florida and
completed courses in management at Harvard University and Harvard Business School. He also studied comparative culture in Tokyo and Los Angeles.
He went on to work in global finance as an investment banker and financial software executive with financial service institutions, venture capital firms, technology service providers and consulting companies.
He was working in investment banking in London when ‘black Monday’ hit in 1987 – a crash he believes was nowhere near as bad as the current fiscal crisis.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.
Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.
A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.
Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.
Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.
Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.
Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action
Date Published: 12-May-2013
The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.
There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.
Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.
However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.
Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.