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Connacht Tribune

Spreading the word

Judy Murphy

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Gearóid’s sisters Karen and Sinéad Mannion who edited his extraordinary schoolboy essays and short stories for the forthcoming book.

A collection of essays and short stories written by a Clifden schoolboy in the 1980s – and recently found in a cupboard – is to be published next week. The author Gearóid Mannion died a few years later having lived with Muscular Dystrophy from birth. Judy Murphy tells his story.

Gearóid Mannion was just 14 years old and in second year at Clifden Community School when he took on the role of managing a soccer team. He couldn’t play the game himself because the Muscular Dystrophy he’d been born with had left his young body weak and fragile. But Gearóid knew how to manage and his side won their first game.

His brief, successful management tenure and the fate that befell those rebels who subsequently ignored his strategy is recalled by Féilim Gibbons, a member of that team and a friend of Gearóid’s, in the introduction to a new book, The Long-Lost Short Stories of Gearóid P. Mannion.

Being launched on Sunday, September 23, at Clifden Arts Festival, this collection of essays and short stories was written by Gearóid as a schoolboy in the 1980s. It lay forgotten in a cupboard for more than two decades until his nephew Niall discovered them a few months ago, while rooting in a press for a mobile-phone charger.

They are the work of a highly intelligent teenager in love with language and sci-f, who had a quirky world-view, partly due to his unique perspective – being profoundly physically disabled and in a wheelchair.

What makes this legacy more special is that Gearóid died 25 years ago, aged 21, because of Muscular Dystrophy.

Having been born healthy and happy, on June 30, 1971 Gearóid missed several milestones such as sitting up and crawling. He was sent to Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Dublin where he underwent a series of tests and procedures before being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type II, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy.

“At first, we thought he’d be able to walk, but as time went on, he had to have physio and we just had to get on with it,” his mother Anne recalls over tea in the kitchen of their house, a few miles outside Clifden on the Galway road.

“There was a paper bag full of copies in the press,” adds Gearóid’s older sister, Karen, who is Niall’s mum, about her son’s discovery. “Niall saw Gearóid’s name on them and started looking at them. The writing was so poor that Mammy had to translate them.”

That was no problem to Anne, who had been determined from the moment of Gearóid’s diagnosis that he would live a full and happy life.

And he did, attending primary school first on Omey Island, where Anne was a teacher, then Roundstone NS, before going on to secondary at Clifden Community School and to the then RTC.

Anne taught on Omey when just three families still lived there so Gearóid and Karen attended that school until it closed in the early 1980s, when she was reassigned to Roundstone.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Branar reaching for skies at former airport

Judy Murphy

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Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí.

Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.

Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.

The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.

At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.

“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.

At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions.  Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.

Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.

And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.

Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.

Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.

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

Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory

John McIntyre

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Corofin's Colin Brady is tackled by Paul Kerrigan of Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club semi-final. The reigning champions face Kilcoo of Down in Sunday's showdown at Croke Park.

IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.

Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.

It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.

Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.

It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí called to Beef Plan gatherings as internal row threatens future of movement

Francis Farragher

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Deputy Anne Rabbitte, standing on a chair, addressing last week's controversial Beef Plan meeting in Turloughmore. Photo: Courtesy Agriland.

THE ‘civil war’ that has engulfed the Beef Plan Movement over recent weeks looks set to continue into 2020 following controversial meetings in Turloughmore and in Tipperary during the past week.

An estimated 300 people turned out on Wednesday night of last week in the Turloughmore Social Centre for the Co. Galway AGM of Beef Plan but the meeting was disrupted amidst raucous scenes.

That meeting was eventually abandoned without any officers being elected with a Garda presence at the Turlough’ centre following the break-up of the meeting.

Meanwhile, on Friday night at Holycross in Co. Tipperary, Gardaí were also on duty at that county’s Beef Plan AGM where there was a strict monitoring of those entering the meeting by security personnel.

A group of people outside that meeting at the Old Abbey Inn – who also claimed to be Beef Plan members – did not gain entry to the meeting.

Last night (Wednesday) a reconvened Galway AGM of Beef Plan was scheduled to take place in the Ard Rí House Hotel, Tuam, where only Galway Beef Plan members would be admitted.

Outgoing Chairman of Galway Beef Plan and one of the four original directors of Beef Plan Movement Company, Kevin O’Brien, said that people had been brought in from many outside counties to disrupt the Galway AGM last week and confirmed that later in the night, there was a Garda presence at the centre.

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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