Rare footage of Connemara circa the 1950s accompanies the video of a song about escapism by a singer-songwriter based in Galway city.
David Boland – who makes music under the name New Pope – unearthed the vintage holiday footage of County Galway, and Mayo, during an extensive trawl online.
He came across the decades-old colour film on YouTube, and contacted the man who had uploaded it looking for permission to use it as a music video for one of his songs.
“I don’t really know anything about him. His name is Michael Rogge, he is a Dutch man, and he seems to have travelled around the world a lot during the 1940s and 50s and County Galway was one of the places he visited and filmed,” said Boland.
The video is a throwback to more innocent times. There is a scene with two women and a man in the foreground, and a picturesque hill in the background. In another, a man brings home turf from the bog on his donkey-drawn cart.
The footage has got tongues wagging online with many observers speculating about where it was filmed but signs give hints that it’s in Connemara.
“There’s a bit of a debate about the year. I thought it was the 1960s but from the comments left underneath the video people say it was the 1950s, probably 1954.
There is a car from the 1937 in it and apparently, it’s a Riley Kestrel. We’re pretty sure it is in Connemara but we’re not exactly sure where.
“There is a bit of the footage that I didn’t use that was filmed in Ballinasloe but in some of the scenes there are signs pointing to Clifden, Carna, Cashel and Screebe. Some of the footage used is from Achill Island and the footage of the fisherman is from the Black Oak river in Mayo,” he said.
From Moville in Donegal, Boland lives at College Road in the city and has been in Galway for the past twelve years. “I came for college and ended up staying,” he said.
The track that goes with the Connemara footage is from his second album, Youth, which has a theme of nostalgia.
“The song is called Onwards, Westwards and it’s all about escaping from the city. Sometimes in the city we get caught up in things that are inconsequential but you get out of that environment, clear your head, and things don’t seem as important,” he said.
He said Connemara is beautiful, and the old footage was a perfect fit because, “it is exactly the type of place you’d want to escape to”.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Coroner calls for shared resource for unidentified human remains
The Coroner for West Galway has recommended establishing a shared database for unidentified human remains after the body of a Limerick man found off Inis Mór 25 years ago lay unidentified in Galway City despite his family’s tireless efforts to find him.
At an Inquest last week, Coroner Ciarán MacLoughlin said the family of Denis Walsh had their grief ‘compounded’ by this delay and said while his identification in January of this year had been as a result of advances in DNA technology, there had been at a ‘missed opportunity’.
Denis Walsh Jnr (23) disappeared from his home in Caherdavin on the outskirts of Limerick City on March 9, 1996.
In a deposition to inquiry into his death, his father, Denis Walsh Snr, described his son as having ‘never caused any trouble growing up’. He said he had ‘started to hang around with the wrong group’ at around 18 years old, which led to drug taking, and detailed how Denis Jnr been ‘in and out’ of psychiatric care before he went missing.
In the period directly before his disappearance, his father said he had been ‘getting on reasonably well’.
After he failed to return home on March 9, a missing person’s report was lodged with Henry St Garda Station in Limerick City.
The inquest at City Hall heard that Sheila Ní Shúilleabháin, Caherciveen, Co Kerry, had been holidaying in Kilronan in April 1996, and while walking on the beach on the morning of April 7, she and a friend discovered the partial remains of a body.
The remains were removed to University Hospital Galway for post mortem examination.
Mr Walsh Snr, who was in attendance at the inquest, questioned why nobody had contacted him or his wife, Mary Walsh after the body was found.
Reading from newspaper clippings at the time, he said it had been reported in the Tuam Herald on April 13, 1996, that the body was of a male with ‘neatly-cut brown hair’ – a description fitting that of his son.
Dr MacLoughlin, explained that the remains found were badly damaged. He said the part of the skull which would have enabled identification using dental records ‘was not present’.
Mr Walsh Jnr’s body remained at the mortuary in UHG for 18 years and was removed to a plot owned by the hospital at New Cemetery, Bohermore, in 2014.
Bereavement Liaison Officer Ann McKeown told the inquiry that a decision was taken to bury a number of unidentified remains, including that of Mr Walsh Jnr, in ‘individual coffins with unique identification numbers’ that could be used in the event of a positive identification.
Ms McKeown said she had accompanied Mr Walsh Jnr’s body to the cemetery, and that prayers had been offered by the hospital chaplain.
Reading a report from Forensic Science Ireland, Dr MacLoughlin said that efforts to match the DNA of the body found of Inis Mór in 1996 had failed in July 2008, March 2011 and June 2018.
DNA swabs were taken from the parents of Mr Walsh Jnr in February 2011 which were also stored with Forensic Science Ireland.
However, Dr MacLoughlin said these swabs had been used to search an Interpol database and that they had not been used to seek a match from the records of unidentified bodies found within the State.
“There was no requirement to look at the profiles in the lab. What happened was this was all done in Limerick, independent of us in Galway. I’m not sure they’d have known in Limerick what we were doing in Galway,” said Dr MacLoughlin.
A database for 20 unidentified remains was established in 2015 but it didn’t take into account existing ‘living profiles’ such as those provided by Mary and Denis Walsh.
“You were missed,” said the Coroner.
Mr Walsh Snr said at one point, Gardaí in Mayorstone, their local Garda Station in Limerick, had been contacted by police in Cornwall about a body discovered there.
“If police in Cornwall could contact Mayorstone, why in the name of God could Gardaí in Galway not contact Gardaí in Mayorstone.
“As far as I’m concerned, there is no contact between [Gardaí in] Galway and Limerick,” he said.
Dr MacLoughlin gave an open verdict, stating that it was impossible to determine a cause of death.
He recommended that a database of unidentified remains, to be stored at Forensic Science Ireland based at Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park, should be established and shared between every Coroner’s Office and Garda Station in the State.
He said advances in technology had allowed the laboratory in Dublin to identify Mr Walsh in 2021 using methods not available in 1996.
“But it took 25 years to get to that. I know for me, life goes on, but for you, it wasn’t like that,” Dr MacLoughlin told Mr Walsh Snr.
“For 25 years, you have thought of him; you’ve missed him at Christmas and at family celebrations. For 18 years, he was in the mortuary in Galway and for the next seven years, he was interred in Galway only 60 or 70 miles away.”
Dr MacLoughlin said he recognised that Mr Walsh Jnr’s family had gone to huge lengths to find their missing son and brother, and expressed his deepest sympathy to them for their loss.
Mr Walsh Jnr’s body was recently exhumed from New Cemetery and moved to the family’s plot in Limerick.
Preparing Connemara for influx of tourists
Facilities near beaches and popular tourist spots in Connemara need to be looked at as a matter of urgency before the tourist season gets into full swing, local councillors urged at their Area Meeting last week.
Councillors outlined some of the problems that had arisen during the ‘good weather weekend’ of April 24/25, relating to signage, parking, traffic control, litter issues and toilet facilities.
Fine Gael councillor, Eileen Mannion, said that given the ongoing situation with Covid, Connemara was going to be a very busy place during the upcoming summer tourist season.
“People do want to come out here; they make a big difference to the local economy; we want them to have a good experience; but we do need them to respect the local communities.
“When people go into Galway city, they cannot park where they like, so why should it be any different in Connemara,” said Cllr. Mannion.
Cllr. Tom Welby (Ind.) said that one of the first things to provide was basic signage as regards parking and traffic control. “There is going to be a lot of internal tourism this year,” he said.
According to Cllr. Pádraig Mac an Iomaire (FG), there were a lot of problems across beaches in the Connemara area relating to litter, toilets and signage during the fine weekend last month.
“In Spiddal for example, at busy times, there is a real difficulty with access issues and especially so in relation to the emergency services. Would it be possible to keep one side of the roadway here [Spiddal] free of parking?” asked Cllr. Mac an Iomaire.
Cllr. Tomás Ó Curraoin (Rep. SF) said that there were a lot of problems with camper vans in the Carna area leaving litter and rubbish behind them.
Council Engineer, Paraic Breathnach, said that the Council had the capacity to provide more signage, bins and portaloos, if the need arose, but added that parking and traffic issues were a different matter.
“We as a Council don’t have the teeth to deal with the issue of parking, camper vans and traffic control. That is very much a Garda matter,” he said.
Loughrea school’s new arrival is already top dog!
SHE’S only two-years-old but already Teal is both the star pupil and teacher at St. Raphael’s Secondary School in Loughrea.
School Principal, Paul Cafferky, is delighted with the role that the Labrador and Golden Retriever cross, Teal, has made right across the school – but particularly so with a special class of six pupils.
“We had heard about an initiative where Guide Dogs are provided for at schools, hospitals or hospices and we decided to check it out a bit more.
“At the time, we were told we had a chance of getting a dog but there were no promises. We were absolutely thrilled when the Guide Dogs confirmed that Teal would be coming to the school,” said Paul Cafferkey.
Sometimes Guide Dogs ‘mightn’t just make it’ in terms of meeting the needs of visually impaired people and these canines are then offered to places like schools.
Teal is a much-loved addition for all pupils and staff at the school but particularly with Rang Breandan, a special class of six students – four in senior-cycle and two in first-year – who enjoy the presence of Teal in their classroom for a few hours every day.
Principal Paul Cafferky – along with Special Needs Co-ordinator, Mairead McKenna and teacher Mairead Taylor – all went through a 20-hour training course with Teal, while all students at the school were given a Zoom presentation on their new arrival.
You can read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie