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Connacht Tribune

Portrait of a budding writer in a young country

Judy Murphy

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Playwright and academic Thomas Kilroy at his home in Kilmaine. PHOTO: Robert Hanvey.

Lifestyle – After having cataracts removed from his eyes 12 years ago, playwright Thomas Kilroy had a strange experience in which memories from his youth came flooding back. He talks to JUDY MURPHY about the resulting book Over the Backyard Wall.

Thomas Kilroy, who has been to the forefront of Irish literary life for more than five decades, is a man of many parts.  Born and reared in Callan, Co Kilkenny, his roots are in Galway, where his parents were born, reared, fought in Ireland’s War of Independence and were married in 1921 while his father was in Galway Jail.

A fascinating and challenging playwright, Thomas Kilroy’s work is unlike that of any of his Irish peers, yet his Irishness is fundamental to everything he has created.

He’s a world-class dramatist, whose canon includes Double Cross, The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde, Talbot’s Box and The Death and Resurrection of Mr Roche. His only published novel, 1971’s The Big Chapel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

As professor of English at UCG in the 1980s, Thomas Kilroy was regarded by students for his superb teaching and his humanity as an examiner. He loved engaging with students, but retired from UCG ahead of time because he hated the administrative work. It was far greater for professors those days than it is now, and affected his creativity.

“Writing is everything and I’m writing all the time in one shape or form,” he explains of his departure.

Thomas’s new book, Over the Backyard Wall, which he describes as ‘a memory book’, doesn’t document his period at UCG, as its remit is from the 1930s to the late 1960s before he moved West.

But it offers a great insight into the post-Independence, post-Civil War Ireland that helped to shape him as a human being and a writer. And his recall of 1950s and 1960s Dublin and its literary scene, reveals a generation of young writers daring to challenge the prevailing world of nationalism and Catholicism.

Thomas was born and reared in Callan, where his father was the local sergeant. His parents, who were originally from Caltra in North-East Galway, had been active in the War of Independence but their views differed when it came to the Civil War, something he captures while describing Éamon de Valera’s visit to Callan during the 1948 General Election campaign.

The vivid picture Thomas paints of his parents’ argument after Dev’s visit, transports the reader back to an Ireland that’s unrecognisable today.

Such incidents left an impression.

As “a child of the Hitler war,” Thomas remembers his father and friends listening to the Nazi propagandist, Lord Haw Haw, on the radio late at night.

In 1986, Haw Haw, and fellow Irishman Brendan Bracken – Churchill’s Minister for Information during World War II – came to life in Thomas’s play Double Cross. Premiered by Field Day Theatre Company, it was recently given a new and much-praised production by Belfast’s Lyric Theatre.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

SMEs set their sights on Euro expansion

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Kevin Moran of IMS Marketing accepting the ‘Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development, with Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon and Nan Gou, Programme Director, ESMT Berlin.

Irish entrepreneurs have the skills, products and services to break down barriers across Europe, according to one Galway-based marketing agency that is helping SMEs enter new markets.

Kevin Moran, Managing Director of IMS Marketing in Galway, said that this creativity and enthusiasm allows Irish entrepreneurs to punch above their weight in new markets.

He was speaking after his IMS Marketing was honoured for its ‘Enter-the-Eurozone’ Programme which has helped 19 SMEs break into Europe.

And he urged all SMEs to continue to set their ambitions on export markets as we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions and revisit the challenges of Brexit.

Mr Moran said that IMS Marketing, along with its partners, Enterprise Ireland and ESMT Berlin, was delighted to receive the Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development.

“The vision for the ‘Enter the Eurozone’ Programme was to enable progressive Irish SMEs  to enter a new Eurozone market in a strategically led way,” he said.

“Export markets will be more important than ever for Irish companies and jobs as they now face the twin threat of Brexit and a post Covid19 economic recession.”

Accepting the Award’ from the EFMD, Mr Moran said that his company witnessed the strength of the Irish SME sector during the delivery of the award-winning ‘Enter the Eurozone’ programme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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Connacht Tribune

Businesses miss out on restart grant

Stephen Corrigan

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Mr. Kenneth Deery. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure
CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery

Just one-third of Galway business eligible for the Government’s Restart Grant have actually applied for the scheme which aims to bolster small enterprise as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

It was revealed this week that businesses in Galway City and County have received almost €4.5 million in grant aid under the scheme which offers grants of between €2,000 and €10,000 to commercial rates-liable enterprises.

To qualify for the €250 million scheme, businesses must have an annual turnover of less than €5 million; have 50 or fewer employee; and have a projected loss of revenue of 25% or more.

CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery said there were many Galway businesses that had yet to apply for the grants, despite the fact that they were entitled to do so.

Only around 1,100 of the about 3,000 businesses in the city and county that may be due a pay-out have applied, and confusion over eligibility was contributing to that issue, he explained.

“Some businesses are of the view that they’re not eligible, but they need to realise that even if they only paid €500 or €1,000 in rates in 2019, they could still be eligible for €2,000,” he said.

Those who were in rates arrears were also entitled to the grant, said Mr Deery, adding that as long as a business had a rates liability in 2019, they could apply for the grant.

“The payment have just started being paid out to those who applied about two months ago, so it has been slow in terms of progressing those applications.

“What I would be saying to small businesses is that they would need to sell a lot of cups of coffee or a lot of sandwiches to make €2,000 or €5,000 in profit,” said Mr Deery.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Connacht Tribune

Galway embraces Mass changes

Stephen Corrigan

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Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford wearing a mask during the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Kinvara, on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Parishioners in Kinvara made a long-awaited return to weekend services on Saturday at St Joseph’s Church, and while it was far from business as usual, mass-goers expressed delight at their return to the church.

Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford said while there were necessary changes to what people would be accustomed to, the congregation was understanding of why that was necessary and thankful that the implementation of these measures meant they could return to services after a four-month absence.

As part of Phase 3 of the easing of restrictions, services of up to 50 people were allowed, and to respect physical distancing, that meant two seats in every three were blocked off, said Fr Hugh.

“Households can sit together, but at the moment, we have the limit of 50 people, but we hope that will change in the next phase. We have to advise people who are more vulnerable that they should consider staying at home for the time being,” he explained.

The obligation to attend Mass has been lifted since the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, continued Fr Hugh, meaning that people need not worry if they are unable to attend.

For the Eucharist, the Priest and Eucharistic Ministers wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser to ensure there is no cross-contamination, with Communion administered to people in their seats, said Fr Hugh.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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