AN extinct breed of sheep – written off as not hardy enough for the challenging Connemara landscape – has now officially re-emerged after a quarter of a century on the missing list!
The Cladoir species were native to Connemara, but post-Famine they were pushed out to the margins – literally to the water’s edge on the west coast – as other breeds found favour with farmers and land owners.
In fact their name, Cladoir, translates as shore dweller, and in their prime, they were kept mainly for their long wool, as opposed to their meat, before the Famine.
But in the 1850s, British breeds were introduced to the mountains, where they thrived, pushing native Cladoir sheep towards south Connemara. They survived around the coast in small numbers.
An agricultural researcher studied them at a research station in Maam in the 1980s, but the small flock was dispersed after he retired. The breed was deemed effectively extinct in 1995.
However, retired agricultural adviser Seán Cadden and Tom King, a farmer from Westport, were enchanted by the Cladoir story and made enquiries in South Connemara about the sheep.
They managed to assemble a small flock of Cladoir-like sheep, which were then purchased by Connemara National Park in Letterfrack in October 2019. A number of other Cladoir-like sheep were also purchased by the National Park last year.
Last autumn, 65 sheep from this flock were sampled for a DNA test; 56 of those including males and females had significant DNA of a distinct breed – the Cladoir DNA.
Their return from oblivion was officially recognised at the weekend when Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, visited Connemara National Park on Saturday.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Shannon back in full flight!
There was a festive atmosphere at Shannon Airport this week as the inaugural Ryanair Corfu service prepared to take flight – ahead of another new service to Gran Canaria, which begins this week.
The new route to the popular Greek Island will operate twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays until the end of October, and the new weekly Ryanair service to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) begins this Saturday.
All of this means that Shannon Airport is now serving Alicante, Barcelona, Stansted, Gatwick, Kaunas, Krakow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Manchester, Corfu, Faro, Lanzarote, Malaga, Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) and Turin.
Passengers on the first Corfu-bound flight enjoyed a pre-departure reception in the airport’s transit lounge which was decorated in festive style.
To celebrate the new routes, the airport gave one lucky passenger a special surprise, return flight tickets for two people to a choice of one of Shannon Airport’s 17 exciting destinations.
A special water cannon salute by the airport’s fire service added an extra sense of occasion as airport staff welcomed passengers and looked after them throughout their time in the airport.
Welcoming the new air services Mary Considine, CEO, Shannon Group, which owns and manages Shannon Airport said: “The global pandemic has had a huge impact on all our lives and being able to once again welcome our passengers as they take to the skies bound for sun drenched holiday destinations is really wonderful.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Pixies slot proves time is now for the Clockworks
Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell
When Pixies were announced as Galway International Arts Festival headliners way back in 2019, a promising Loughrea four-piece were fresh from relocating to London and bullishly embracing their role as the new faces of former Oasis manager Alan McGee’s Creation 23 record label.
Two years on, the US alt-rock pioneers are yet to grace the Big Top – but the Clockworks, made up of James McGregor, Tom Freeman, Seán Connolly and Damian Greaney, are set to make a US debut in their company with a series of support slots that cement their place as one of Galway’s biggest artistic exports.
In less than six weeks’ time, Pixies will embark on a September tour of the states with the Clockworks by their side for six gigs. The Galway group play their own maiden headline US show in New York’s Mercury Loung on September 8.
On their horizon too, is an end-of-year Irish tour with Dublin indie-rock outfit Inhaler as well as a host of festival appearances, barring cancellations.
With news of the Pixies tour coming in the same week NewDad were announced as support for Fontaines D.C.’s highly anticipated Belfast show on August 13, it is powerful evidence of the ground Galway acts continue to break.
“It’s very exciting to have loads of gigs lined up after absolutely nothing for so long,” James admits.
“It’s really nice to feel like we’re going to hit the ground running and when Pixies came through, that was just amazing and what a way to start. It’s our first time gigging in America – my first time going there personally.
“All four of us are massive fans of Pixies too. Any time they’d come to Ireland, we’d always try and throw our hat in the ring for a support slot and just to think that now we’ll be going around the States with them is insane.”
Read the full interview in this week’s Groove Tube, in the Connacht Tribune – on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital version from www.connachttribune.ie
All out in force to cheer home one of their own
Sitting on an airplane, mid-air from Japan en route to Dublin, Olympic bronze medallist from Moycullen, Fiona Murtagh was unsure whether anyone would be at the airport to meet her and teammates Aifric Keogh of Na Forbacha, Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty when they touched down.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, there was no big welcoming party planned for Dublin Airport. But Fiona need not have worried; as she strode out of airport security and into Arrivals, all her family were there to hug her.
Fiona hadn’t seen her parents Marguerite and Noel since April because of a pre-Olympic training camp in Italy; and her siblings Pádraig, Lorraine and twin Alan all turned up, too.
“Oh my God, I couldn’t believe it. It was actually really emotional, it was so lovely. I didn’t expect the full family to be there. Tears came to my eyes. I hadn’t seen mom and my dad in seven weeks,” said Fiona.
That was just the first leg of what was to be a heart-warming homecoming for a hero.
The family drove back to Galway with Fiona, who had heard “through the grapevine that there was going to be something in Bushypark”.
“But the scale of it, I didn’t expect it at all, it was incredible, it was so lovely to see everyone come out and support and see me”, she said.
Read the full story over eleven pages of coverage on the homecoming of our Olympic heroes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie