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Connacht Tribune

Passion for violin born out of a love of owls

Judy Murphy

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Carolin Widmann credits her parents with nurturing her musically:"They loved to play and they loved to listen."

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Owls. One of Germany’s leading musicians Carolin Widmann, who will be in Galway’s Leisureland next Thursday with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, can trace her career as a top violinist back to owls.  Carolin laughs as she says, in fairness to her, she was only six when the creatures stole her heart.

It happened was when she was attending a production of The Carnival of the Animals, the renowned piece by French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns, that was being produced by a local amateur orchestra.  Carolin’s mother, who played violin with the group, was in the owl section and the creatures – complete with feathers – blew the child away.

“It was more a visual than a sound thing at the time,” Carolin recalls. In any case, she has never looked back.

The Munich-born violinist has won countless awards for her playing and recordings – her albums include CDs of Schumann and Schubert’s music as well as more contemporary composers. And she’s a regular in the world’s top concert halls, performing with the likes of the London Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Nuremberg Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony.  Since 2016, she has been Professor of Violin in Leipzig’s University of Music and Theatre.

Carolin credits her parents with nurturing her passion for music – “they loved to play and they loved to listen”, she recalls. Her brother Jörg has also carved out a successful career as a composer and clarinettist.

Carolin performed in Ireland in 2016 with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and has also played Sligo International Chamber Music Festival. She’s very much looking forward to returning to ireland.

Well-informed about the implications of Brexit for Ireland, she is interested in politics generally. Her grandparents, who were children in the aftermath of World War II, endured great hardship before Germany rose from the ashes. They felt the good times couldn’t continue indefinitely and as she looks at Europe and the world now, Carolin sees why they held those views.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Biden is a Maree man!

Keith Kelly

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US President-election Joe Biden.

The connections of incoming US President, Joe Biden, to Mayo and Louth on his mother’s side of his family have been widely reported – but it has emerged that he has just as strong links to a small townland outside Oranmore through his father’s side…as recently as four generations ago.

And the news has led to hopes that the President-elect will include a trip to Galway in any itinerary for a visit to Ireland during his presidency – and it is being reported this week that the incoming president will make Ireland his first state visit when he assumes office.

Contact had been made with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office with the news of the President-elect’s Galway links ahead of his visit to Ireland in 2016, but Liam Hanniffy – who has uncovered the link between his family and that of Mr Biden, was told that the itinerary had already been planned, and a visit to Galway was not possible.

Liam Hanniffy, who is from Ballinacourty in Maree, has been researching his family tree since been contacted by a man from America in 2014 saying they were third cousins, and both were also related to the then US Vice-President, Joe Biden.

Research by Liam has discovered that a man called John Hanniffy, who was born just over 200 years ago in Ballinacourty Hill in Maree, is actually the great-great grandfather of the President-elect – and to make the Galway link even stronger, John Hanniffy married a woman whose parents was also born in the same townland, meaning two of his great-great-great grandparents also came from the same townlands nestled on Galway Bay.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Galway all set to re-open for business

Dara Bradley

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Shop Street...business will be back.

Galway has earned the right to re-open – local lockdown sacrifices have suppressed the virus in the community, the latest figures confirm.

The collective effort of city and county residents over six weeks drove down the infection rate to one of the lowest in the country.

Gyms, all retail, hairdressers, personal services and possibly religious services and some entertainment are on course to re-open next week.

Government will announce plans for hospitality, with publicans, and in particular those who don’t serve food, hopeful they won’t be left behind. Plans to ease Christmas visiting restrictions will also be unveiled Friday.

Galway had one of Ireland’s highest Covid-19 figures when the country entered Level 5 lockdown in October but the latest stats reveal a massive turnaround.

Galway recorded 168 new confirmed cases in the fortnight to Monday, which equates to a 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of 65.1, compared with the national average of 107.8. The incidence rate peaked at 313.9 per 100,000 in October when the number of weekly cases in Galway hit a staggering 500 – ten times this week’s total of 50 cases in the seven days up to Monday.

In the week to Saturday, 28 Covid outbreaks were recorded in the West, down from 36 the previous week. Eighteen of the new clusters were in private homes and nine were in extended family and community.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway mum’s support from home as toddler battles rare cancer

Denise McNamara

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Little fighter...Grace Bridges.

A Galway woman living in Sydney has been overwhelmed by the support shown by family and friends in her native Loughrea since her toddler Grace was diagnosed with a rare cancer last January.

“One of my friends said you can see Ireland with all the candles lighting for Grace,” reflects Emma Bane, over the phone from her child’s hospital bed which has become an all-too-familiar second home for the pair.

Yet still Grace fights, beating all the odds, as she approaches her second birthday on December 11. Metastatic Hepatoblastoma is so rare it affects one in a million children.

They returned to Westmead Hospital in the western suburbs of Sydney over a week ago after catching the common cold as her immune system is so compromised after 40 doses of chemotherapy.

Another 30 doses are planned.

“We call her our little warrior princess. She’s had three life-threatening trips to intensive care. When pathology looked at her blood sample her tumour markers were so high they couldn’t quantify them – they’d never seen anything like it. This is the third time we’ve been told she wouldn’t make it.”

Grace gets very sick when undergoing the chemo in 21 days cycles and usually has to be admitted due to severe diarrhoea and dehydration.

After her fifth surgery in September, oncologists warned that this latest round of chemo is her last chance at survival.

“They tell us to be hopeful and so far she’s beaten all the odds. That’s how amazing she is. She’s had 500 needles from February till October and 60 blood transfusions – she’s really been through the mill.”

As have Emma and her husband Adam Bridges.

 

There is a GoFundMe page set up to help with the cost of medical expenses. To contribute go to https://au.gofundme.com/f/grace-bridges

This is the correct address; there was a typographical error in the one which appears in this week’s paper and on the digital edition.

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

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