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Connacht Tribune

Pitch perfect

Judy Murphy



Sinead Hayes who plays piano and violin as well as conducting. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Lifestyles – Sinead Hayes is a woman of many parts. The musician and engineer went on to train as a conductor, relocating to Berlin to hone her skills. She conducts the Sym-phonic Waves Youth Orchestra, which is performing for Baboró. She talks to Judy Murphy

Corofin woman Sinead Hayes was living in London in the early 2000s when she decided to pick up a baton and take a course in conducting music. At once, she knew this was her calling.

“I’d found the elements that connect the things I love; solving problems and music,” she explains.

Reading her CV in advance of meeting her, Sinead seems like someone who could have had any number of callings.

A civil engineering graduate from NUIG who was awarded two scholarships to study for a Masters at Imperial College in London, she also has a first-class honours Music degree from London’s City University. And, having earned a Masters in Conducting at Manchester’s Royal Northern College, she moved to Berlin to hone her considerable skills in that area.

Just a few weeks ago, Sinead conducted the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at Dublin’s National Concert Hall in a celebration of Mícheál Ó Suilleabháin’s music, having made her RTÉ NSO debut in 2013. She regularly conducts orchestras in Germany, the UK and Ireland.

So, no doubt that she’s a high achiever. But when we meet at the City’s Black Gate Café to discuss her upcoming Baboró concerts with Galway’s Sym-phonic Wave Youth Orchestra, Sinead isn’t a bit intimidating. She’s warm, funny and passionate about offering young people in the West of Ireland top-class classical music opportunities.

Sinead’s own musical adventure began in Infants class at primary school when she learned tin whistle. Next, she took up fiddle, then piano.

She and her siblings were reared in a traditional-music environment and that’s still part of her make-up. But when it came to learning classical music, Galway didn’t have what was required for someone so talented and ambitious.

After winning the Irish Local Centre Scholarship for distinction in Grade 8 violin at 13, Sinead was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin.  From the ages of 14 to 16, she’d take the train to Dublin every Saturday morning, usually with her mother Mary.

Music is and has always been Sinead’s passion. But when she finished secondary school, she opted to study engineering at NUIG for practical reasons.

“I was teaching music every Saturday to pay my way through college, and couldn’t have afforded to go to college in Dublin.”

She didn’t feel hard done by, though.  “I liked engineering,” she adds.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell



Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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