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Connacht Tribune

Rocky from Rosmuc

Judy Murphy

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Sean Mannion: boxing is at the centre of his story, but there’s much more to this modest man’s life.

Lifestyle – The extraordinary life of Connemara boxer Seán Mannion is the subject of a poignant new documentary film. Judy Murphy talks to the people behind it.

A bitter-sweet story” is how film director Michael Fanning describes the extraordinary life of Connemara boxer Seán Mannion, the subject of a poignant new documentary film, Rocky Ros Muc, which will get its European premiere on July 12 during the Galway Film Fleadh.

Seán, now aged 60, was one of the finest boxers ever to come out of Galway or, indeed, Ireland.

His professional career, which spanned from 1977 to 1993, included a period in the early 1980s when boxing magazine Ring ranked him No 1 American Light Middleweight Champion.

Seán fought 57 fights, winning 42 and drawing one, but back then, fights in the US weren’t broadcast in Ireland, so people here didn’t witness just how talented he was.

The first fight of his to be shown in Ireland was in 1984, when this handsome young man took on Jamaican Mike McCallum for the world title.

Unfortunately, Seán lost. It was a defining moment in a life of highs and lows for this man who has spent most of his life in South Boston’s tightly knit Irish community, associating with the Irish Mafia – although never getting involved in crime – and struggling with alcohol addiction.

Boxing is at the centre of Seán’s story, but there’s far more to this modest man’s life, Michael explains.

“I wanted the film to be not just a story about sport; it has a much broader appeal than that.”

He’s right. The 90-minute documentary, based on the award-winning book, Rocky Ros Muc, by Carraroe-man Rónán Mac Con Iomaire, is poignant and moving, cinematic in scope, and totally absorbing.

It won Best Documentary in Boston’s Irish Film Festival earlier this year and got a standing ovation from a home audience, where the story of a boxing hero in a world of gang warfare, street crime and drug-related deaths really resonated.

That criminal world, ruled over by the infamous Whitey Bulger is explored in the documentary, via interviews with those who were involved with Bulger. Some were repentant, others including Pat Nee, a gunman convicted of shipping arms to the IRA 1984, were not. He’s also from Ros Muc.

With such a line-up of characters, it’s no wonder Rónán Mac Con Iomaire’s book Rocky Ros Muc, struck a chord with Michael Fanning when the TV director and producer first read it.

He approached Rónán, who is Group Head of Irish Language at RTÉ, about a possible film. Rónán, in turn, asked Seán.  They had become friends when Rónán was working on the biography.

“Very humble, very quiet and not one to brag about his exploits,” is how Michael describes Seán and Rónán agrees.  When they suggested a film to the former southpaw, his reply was simple. “I don’t care what’s in it, as long as it’s the truth.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan

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Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan

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Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley

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Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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