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Connacht Tribune

Perseverance pays off for kids’ author Patricia

Judy Murphy



Patricia Forde pictured in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop with her latest children’s book, Bumpfizzle the Best on Planet Earth. Photos: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – The hilarious alien Bumpfizzle is Patricia Forde’s latest creation. Praised at home and in the USA, she’s now signed to a top UK publisher. She tells JUDY MURPHY it all began with her mother.

From the moment Patricia (Trish) Forde was able to read, which happened before she went to school – thanks to her mother Detta, who taught Trish and her siblings to read using the Irish Independent – the child had her head stuck in a book.

“My mother says she never saw the top of my head until I turned 14,” recalls Trish with a laugh. The inveterate reader went on to become a children’s author and now, three decades after her first book was published by local company Salmon Press, Trish has signed a deal with Penguin Random House Children’s section. It will see two of her illustrated children’s books being published by its Puffin imprint in the UK.

The former teacher and Artistic Director of Galway Arts Festival was born in Castlegar and moved to Galway City’s Market Street when she was 10. She has been writing all her life, even while working as a primary teacher and later as Artistic Director of Galway Arts Festival. The fluent Irish speaker then went on to write scripts for Ros na Rún and other TV dramas, in Irish and English. But children’s books are her first love and she has authored many, in Irish and English, with picture books being a particular passion.

The latest is Bumpfizzle the Best on Planet Earth, with illustrations by award-winning artist Elína Braslina. Published in Ireland by Little Island, it’s the hilarious story of a youngster who explains that he’s an alien on a mission to earth from Planet Plonk. Bumpfizzle is obliged to give regular reports to his Great Master on Planet Plonk and these are laugh-out-loud, as he documents life with his earthling family.

This fabulous creation, who’s trying to make sense of life on earth, was inspired by a voice Trish heard one day.

“I just heard this voice in my head saying ‘what to do, what to do?’ and got this idea of a family who has an alien living with them. He’s looking at the family baby trying to work out what it is,” she explains. Trish captures his confusion perfectly – one of Bumpfizzle’s observations about the baby is that ‘it leaks from both ends’.

Half way through writing the book, Trish had a dilemma. “Was Bumpfizzle an alien or simply a jealous older child?” With that in mind, she had “a delicate balancing act” to complete it and not lose the magic.

She succeeded and, ultimately, it’s up to the reader to decide whether Bumpfizzle is of this earth or not. In either case, he’s wonderful.

“It amazes me how your head works,” she says about how inspiration can strike. “For me it’s a pool of words that I hear in my head, or a voice, as it was with this book.”

For Trish, writing Bumpfizzle was the perfect light relief following her previous, more serious novel, The Wordsmith (also Little Island).

Written for young adults, it’s set post-apocalyptic location, Ark, where a despotic ruler, John Noa, has restricted people’s vocabulary to 500 words on the basis that words are destructive. Its heroine is Letta, a wordsmith’s apprentice whose job to give people the limited words they need. As the plot unfolds, Letta realises that Noa’s ultimate aim is to totally rid Ark of its language and therefore its culture and she must act.

Published in the USA as The List, it struck a chord in the Trump era, where language has become so debased.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Full details of the Christmas Covid restrictions

Enda Cunningham



The Taoiseach announced this evening that the country will move to Level 3 restrictions from next week, with shops, gyms, hairdressers, hotels, restaurants and gastro-pubs set to reopen.

“It hasn’t been easy. Many individuals and businesses have made huge sacrifices. And many more are totally fed up with Covid-19 and everything that has come with it over the past nine months. I understand that feeling. Very often I share it,” Micheál Martin said in an address to the nation.

“This cannot and will not be the kind of Christmas we are used to but it will be a very special time where we all enjoy some respite,” he said, as he announced the planned move to “Level 3, with some modifications”.

The use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

From 1 December, under Level 3, as set out in the Plan for Living with Covid-19:

  • weddings with up to 25 guests are permitted (same as current provisions)
  • funerals with up to 25 mourners are permitted (same as current provisions)
  • no organised indoor events should take place, other than as provided below
  • gatherings of 15 people may take place outdoors
  • non-contact training may take place outdoors in pods of 15
  • only individual training should take place indoors and no exercise or dance classes are permitted
  • no matches/events may take place except professional and elite sports, approved inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and approved equestrian events, all behind closed doors
  • gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools may reopen for individual training only
  • nightclubs, discos and casinos should remain closed
  • hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs may open with services limited to residents only
  • non-essential retail and personal services may reopen
  • people should continue to work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person
  • public transport capacity is limited to 50%

From 1 December:

  • households should not mix with any other households outside those within their bubble
  • people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes

From 4 December:

  • restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants (serving a substantial meal) may reopen for indoor dining with additional restrictions, (including requirement for meals to be prepared on site, inside the premises). This includes access for non-residents to restaurants in hotels
  • higher, further and adult education should remain primarily online

Adjustments for the Christmas Period

From 1 December:

  • places of worship to reopen for services with restrictive measures, subject to review in January
  • museums, galleries, and libraries to reopen
  • cinemas to reopen
  • wet pubs to remain closed except for takeaway/delivery

From 18 December to 6 January:

  • households can mix with up to two other households
  • travel outside your county to be permitted

From 7 January, the measures put in place prior to 18 December will apply, subject to ongoing review of the trajectory of the virus.

The measures for cross-border travel will be the same as for travel between all other counties, that is, from 1 December, people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes while from 18 December to 6 January, travel outside the county is permitted.

It has further been agreed that the use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

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Connacht Tribune

Curran, Melody and Molloy all leave Utd as Caulfield confirms two new signings

Keith Kelly



Enda Curran, pictured after scoring a goal for Galway United against Wexford in the season just finished, has left the club. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The comings and goings have continued at Galway United in the past week, with the club busy re-signing players fork last season, adding some new faces, as well as confirming the departure of players who were part of the 2020 squad.

Having already said goodbye to the sextet of Conor Barry, Joe Collins, Vinny Faherty, Jack Lynch, Timo Partheons, and Josh Smith, the club this week confirmed the departure of three more players: Enda Curran (89 appearances, 20 goals), Conor Melody (108 appearances, five goals), and Timmy Molloy (16 appearances, no goals).

Curran was signed for United as an 18-years-old by Sean Connor ahead of the 2011 season and made his debut in the opening game of that campaign, coming on as a substitute for the injured Neal Keane in the 43rd of a 3-0 defeat at home to St Patrick’s Athletic.

He made a total of 13 appearances for United that season, and he was back with the Tribesmen for United’s return to the national league in the 2014 season, when he made eight appearances, scoring his first goal for United in the first of those games, coming off the bench to score in the 5-0 win at home to Shamrock Rovers B in July.

His most productive season for United was the following year’s campaign, when he scored 12 goals in 25 appearances in the Premier Division for United (he made 29 league and cup appearance in total that season), including his one and only hat-trick for the club, coming in the 5-0 win away to Bray Wanderers in April.

The following month, he had the distinction of scoring two penalties in a single game, in the 5-3 win over Bohemians.

That haul of a dozen goals saw him finish as the club’s joint top-scorer in the league that season alongside Jake Keegan, though the US striker finished as overall top scorer on 16 goals thanks to 2 goals in the FAI Cup, and two in the League Cup.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Biden is a Maree man!

Keith Kelly



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

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