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Paul Kimmage and the unquenchable thirst for truth

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Paul Kimmage taking a break during coverage of the Tour de France 2013

Paul Kimmage comes across as a guy who could comfortably pick a fight with a mirror; because even in the world of journalism, there are mavericks and there are mavericks – and then, in a field all on his own, snorting and kicking up the dust, there’s Paul Kimmage.

To say the man is passionate about his beloved sport of cycling is like suggesting that Elizabeth Taylor was fond of marriage – he takes the whole thing so personally, you’d think he owned the sport.

And in a way he does – or rather he wants the sport to be owned by the people, by the fans and by the clean riders as opposed to the money men and the drugs cheats that he always has in his sights.

Rough Rider on RTE1 last week was an insight into the world of professional cycling, but it also provided a window into the mind and soul of Kimmage. The story is straightforward – Kimmage is joined by wife Ann, director Adrian McCarthy and crew as he makes the ferry crossing to cover the 2013 Tour de France.

He’s bouncing back after being let go by the Sunday Times, and the Sunday Independent has hired him to give his own unique take on this Tour which takes place under such a cloud of suspicion.

But this was mesmeric television as you followed the former rider, now multi-award-winning journalist on the toughest cycle race known to man, like a human thorn in the side of the establishment and those who would even dare to cheat.

Yet Kimmage himself cheated – three times by his own admission, even if the races were of little or no importance – and he was so disgusted by those clandestine acts that he quit the sport he so passionately loves.

That might have been the end of that, because Kimmage already had a second career – as a sports journalist with the Sunday Tribune – lined up and ready to go. It was a trade he was instantly successful in, and he was to go on and win international awards for his books as well.

But Kimmage doesn’t do easy and so he wrote Rough Ride, a book that exposed his own doping, but also by extension alluded to the fact that there was more chance of finding a nun in a brothel than a clean rider on the Tour de France.

By association, this cast a cloud of suspicion on Ireland’s cycling heroes – Kelly and Roche – and Roche in particular was devastated at the betrayal by a man who was his childhood friend and one of his closest allies in the sport.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking moment in this entire documentary came towards the end when all riders who’d ever completed the Tour de France were invited to a special viewing platform for the end of this 100th race – and as Roche shook hands with the world and its mother at the front, his old friend watched down from the back benches and presumably wondered how this might have been.

But Rough Rider wasn’t just about covering the Tour de France – it was the story of a man who put the scandal of drugs, and deaths that resulted from blood doping, above any loss of lifelong friendships.

It was the story of an old-fashioned journalist who, when he saw a story, was like a dog with a bone. Even when he was threatened with multi-million euro legal actions, he wouldn’t let it go.

He is the ultimate whistleblower, the perennial outsider, a man who might cause you to slip quietly out of a room if you saw him coming your way.

And then in complete contrast to this Mount Vesuvius of a writer, you had his long-suffering wife Ann, a voice of reason and balance . . . an Andrews Liver Salts to calm the eternal inner storm.

His own father – himself a former cyclist – had his own perception on it: “Paul was unlucky to be born perfect in an imperfect world,” he said, and for once in almost two hours of a documentary, even his son laughed.

Rough Rider was a wonderfully insightful piece of work that captured Kimmage the journalist but also Kimmage the maverick who is determined to clean up cycling, even if he has to do it on his own.

And clearly – despite the whiter than white claims of so many of the riders and teams – he will have his work cut out. But as he cycled to the spot where the British rider Tommy Simpson collapsed and died during the ascent of Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France, you sensed that this passion was unquenchable no matter what obstacles were put in his way.

He believes that his type of journalism is dead, that there’s no place for it in the commercial reality of today; if that’s true, then more the pity because while Kimmage himself is the first to admit that he’s a royal pain in the ass, without those who lift the stones and stir the pot, there’s just consensus.

And whatever else Paul Kimmage does, he doesn’t do consensus.

CITY TRIBUNE

The Uncertainty of History at Kinvara Courthouse

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Family Tree by Bernadette Burns, which is being shown as part of her exhibition in Kinvara. It explores events surrounding the death of her grandaunt Eileen Quinn at Kiltartan 101 years ago, during the War of Independence.

The Uncertainty of History – Remembering Eileen Quin, an exhibition that explores human transience, family history and the fragility of memory, will open in the Courthouse at Kinvara, next Friday, October 29.

The work of Galway-born artist Bernadette Burns, this multi-media show was inspired by her grandaunt Eileen Quinn who was killed by British Auxiliary troops on November 1, 1920, in Kiltartan outside Gort.

The show was originally meant to take place in Kinvara last year, on the 100th anniversary of Eileen Quinn’s death, but was postponed because of Covid.

Bernadette is a painter who works with drawing, photography, sculpture, video and book-making.

The paintings, sculpture, audio, and artist’s books in this exhibition grew from a diary entry by Bernadette’s grandmother, Tessie Burns, which referred to the shooting of her younger sister, Eileen, in 1920.

As a child, growing up in Galway City, Bernadette had known that Tessie’s younger sister had died during the War of Independence, but not the details. Finding the diary after Tessie died in 1991 and also being given Tessie’s photo album, awoke something in Bernadette who’d studied art at the then RTC and the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

The First Bad Man – a book club like no other

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Andrew Bennett in Pan Pan Theatre's The First Bad Man.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

“Characters who are trying to understand and explain what is going on in the world and who never know what’s around the corner,” will be on the stage of the city’s Black Box Theatre next Tuesday and Wednesday, October 26 and 27, in The First Bad Man.

The audience will be centrally involved in the show, according to Gavin Quinn of Pan Pan Theatre, who directs The First Bad Man, which is “based on a reading of a novel by Miranda July”.

Gavin and Aedín Cosgrove established Pan Pan in 1993 to present experimental and challenging work and that’s exactly what it does. So, this production is not a straightforward adaptation of the popular 2015 novel from July, who is also a film director, screenwriter actor, and actress. When Gavin read The First Bad Man – her debut novel – he loved “its theatricality and its unusual themes and relationships”.

He was already a fan of the US artist’s work, including her 2007 short-story collection, No One Belongs Here More than You, which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Gavin wrote to July seeking permission for Pan Pan to stage a show based on The First Bad Man. But it wouldn’t be an adaptation, he explained.

“What I was suggesting was more a conceptual piece, more a book club idea,” he says. July was agreeable, although the permission process took longer than it might have done for a straightforward adaptation.

As with so many other companies, Pan Pan’s plans were delayed by Covid. But the show is now coming to Galway, having received its live premiere at the Dublin Theatre Festival earlier this month.

In Pan Pan’s production, a fictional book club selects The First Bad Man as its novel of the week. However, rather than discussing it over one meeting, as is the norm, the club’s members become obsessed with it “and keep coming back to it over a year”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dark comedy that explores obsession with weddings

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Sarah-Jane Scott as Sorcha in Appropriate. PHOTO: SIMON LAZEWSKI.

Tuam actress, Sarah-Jane Scott, brings her darkly comic one-woman show, Appropriate, to Druid’s Mick Lally Theatre this Saturday, October 23, with a performance at 4pm and another at 8pm.

The play’s heroine, Sorcha, is the queen bee of her hometown, engaged to former county hurling star, Marty. She’s been dreaming about her wedding day for years, except now that it has arrived, she’s just run away from her own reception.

Sorcha isn’t sure if she’s lost her reason or if this is the first sane moment she’s had in years, but as she prepares to enter her perfectly planned life, she finally realises she has never really listened to herself.

Appropriate premiered at the2018 Dublin Fringe festival when it received a great response and was nominated for a Bewley’s Little Gem Award.  The Sunday Times critic was ‘wooed by her self-deprecating, acutely observed tale of love and loss’ that taps into ‘our insatiable obsession with weddings’ while The Irish Times praised it as ‘an engrossing debut’.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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