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Patricia creates a heroine for our times

Judy Murphy

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Patricia Forde with Mother Tongue. She has dedicated this book to the 'Memory of the Tuam babies and for children without a voice everywhere'. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Lifestyle – ‘Mother Tongue’, the new book by Patricia Forde is the sequel to her hugely successful young adult novel, The Wordsmith. The former teacher and Galway Arts Festival director tells JUDY MURPHY how she never intended to write this book, a fast-paced thriller which deals with issues such as censorship, human rights and climate change in a hugely engaging way.

Patricia Forde began her career as a primary school teacher in Galway City, driven by imagination, creativity and huge respect for the children she was educating.

She changed direction a long time ago, firstly becoming Artistic Director of Galway Arts Festival in the early 1990s, then moving on to head up the children’s arts festival Baboró, and later again working as a writer and editor for the TV series Ros na Rún.

Now, Patricia’s creativity and innate respect for young people has found its voice in her books – no surprise given that the city-woman always wanted to be a writer.

These began in 1991 with Tír Faoi Thoinn, written as a fundraiser for Macnas. Since then, she has written many illustrated stories for younger children and in 2015, her book for young adults, The Wordsmith, was published.

That humane and bleak story is set in Ark, a future world wracked by climate change and ruled by a man who has curtailed the number of words that people can use. It struck a chord in Ireland and the UK.

Subsequently released in the US as The List, it stunned critics who couldn’t believe that someone writing in the West of Ireland before Donald Trump had been elected US President, could have been so prescient.  The abuse of language and disregard for truth that are central to the current US regime resonated with all who read The List.

Now, Mother Tongue, the sequel to The Wordsmith / The List is being launched this week. A stand-alone book in its own right, Mother Tongue draws on Irish history and mythology as it holds up a mirror to the modern world.

Patricia has written a fast-paced thriller, designed to keep young people engaged while it also delves into current social and political issues. She explores censorship, human rights, climate change and the horrific treatment of children by some Western democracies.

“Everything that’s in there is a reaction to what’s going on around us,” she says simply.

Revelations about the Tuam babies and witnessing the experience of children at the US-Mexican borders had “a huge effect” on Patricia, something that’s reflected in Mother Tongue.

“The images were very close to what my own children looked like and they’re from that part of the world,” she says of the US border. She’s referring to her two adult children, James and Rosa, who were born in Guatemala and adopted as babies by Patricia and her husband Pádraic.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Two arrested in Galway over spate of burglaries

Enda Cunningham

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Two men in County Galway have been arrested as part of a Garda investigation into a series of burglaries in businesses in Limerick and Tipperary.

As part of the operation, three houses were searched yesterday (Saturday) morning in Co Galway and two men in their 20s were arrested. They were brought to Henry Street and Roxboro Road Garda stations in Limerick, where they were detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.

During the search operation, two vehicles were also seized for technical examination.

The eight burglaries were carried out in the Limerick and Tipperary area in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.

As part of these investigations, an operation was put in place by detective Gardaí from Henry Street Garda station with the assistance of the Armed Support Unit in the Western Region and Gardaí from Tipperary, Limerick and Galway.

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Connacht Tribune

Branar reaching for skies at former airport

Judy Murphy

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Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí.

Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.

Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.

The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.

At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.

“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.

At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions.  Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.

Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.

And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.

Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.

Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory

John McIntyre

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Corofin's Colin Brady is tackled by Paul Kerrigan of Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club semi-final. The reigning champions face Kilcoo of Down in Sunday's showdown at Croke Park.

IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.

Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.

It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.

Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.

It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.

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