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Connacht Tribune

Thrill and terror as Jane takes key role in Druid’s ‘The Beacon’

Judy Murphy

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Jane Brennan who plays Beiv in Druid's premiere of The Beacon by Nancy Harris.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

“I love doing new work, it’s a real treat,” says actress Jane Brennan who plays the lead role in Druid Theatre’s upcoming production, The Beacon, which will open at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday, September 24.

A co-production between Druid and Dublin’s Gate Theatre, The Beacon will transfer to the Gate for the Dublin Theatre Festival, opening there on October 3.

This darkly comic drama about a fraught mother-son relationship is by Dublin playwright and screenwriter Nancy Harris and marks her debut with Druid. But she has been making her mark elsewhere in recent years and another of her plays, Two Ladies, starring Zoë Wannamaker and directed by Nicholas Hytner, will premiere at London’s Bridge Theatre on Wednesday, September 25.

Harris’s debut full-length play, No Romance, won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and the Stewart Parker Award in 2012.

Her modern version of Hans Christian Andersen’s extraordinary and disturbing fairytale of dance, desire and destruction, The Red Shoes, premiered at the Gate in 2017 to full houses and critical success.

As a TV writer, her episodes of Channel 4’s 2014 series, Dates, led to her being nominated for a BAFTA Award as a breakthrough talent.

Nancy Harris had been commissioned to write a play for Druid, but when she handed in The Beacon, it “was quite different to the play they’d originally spoken about,” Jane Brennan explains. “Garry decided to do it anyway and saw me in the role. I thought the play was really interesting, a terrific piece of work. She doesn’t take the easy route,” she says of Harris.

In The Beacon, Jane’s character Beiv, a celebrated artist, has moved from Dublin to her holiday cottage on an island off West Cork. But a shadow from the past hangs over her. When Beiv’s estranged son and his new young wife come to stay, she has to cope with some difficult questions. These involve a mysterious accident and a dead husband as secrets from a different time resurface.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí seek help in locating missing man

Enda Cunningham

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Gardaí have sought help in locating a man missing in Galway since the end of December.
34-year-old Luke Davoren was last seen in the University Road area on December 30.

He is described as having fair hair, 6ft in height and having an athletic build. He was last seen wearing a grey hoody, brown leather jacket, blue jeans and brown leather boots. He also had a black back pack in his possession.

Gardaí and Luke’s family are very concerned for his welfare and have urged him to make contact.

Anyone with information, particularly any road users with dash cam footage of the Newcastle/University Road areas between 1am – 2am on December 30, is asked to contact Galway Garda Station on 091 538000.

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Connacht Tribune

Hospitals cope with overcrowding and staff shortages as Covid crisis peaks

Dara Bradley

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Confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to skyrocket in Galway, as virus-related frontline healthcare staff shortages persist and now overcrowding emerges as a new threat.

Galway experienced four days of record-breaking positive case notifications in the past week, as hospitalisations grew exponentially and pressure was heaped on the critical care units at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Portiuncula.

Hospital management said it was unsure whether community transmission had peaked locally yet – and they expect hospitals to be under ‘significant pressure’ from Covid admissions well into February.

Nurses have highlighted how overcrowding in the Emergency Department of the county’s two main public hospitals has returned – some 112 patients were stuck on trolleys awaiting admission to UHG and Ballinasloe on five mornings in the past week. Meanwhile, it hasn’t yet been officially confirmed that the new UK variant of Covid is present in Galway, but authorities believe it is.

The latest data shows there has been no let-up in new cases notifications in Galway – 604 confirmed cases were notified for Monday, the highest in Ireland and Galway’s worst ever day by a long shot.

It was a frightening figure but it was not for one day and was part of clearing the backlog of cases over Christmas and New Year, the HSE said.

That pushed Galway’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 to 1033.9 more than double what it was a week ago and eight times what it was a fortnight ago. Some 2,668 new Galway cases were notified in the fortnight to midnight Tuesday.

Read the full story and comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Suffer little children – report shines a light into shameful past

Dave O'Connell

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Baby clothing hanging from a tree branch in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home burial ground this week. PHOTO: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Tribune Comment

The final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes shines a light into the darkest recesses of our shameful past; young women and tiny babies neglected by Church and State – fellow, frail human beings whose lives and deaths somehow didn’t matter at all.

These women and their children were punished, hidden out of sight; mistreated at best; physically and sexually abused at worst – and way, way too many were left to die without a shred of dignity in their lives or in their passing.

The Trojan work and dedication of people like Catherine Corless lifted the stone on the shame – but it is only in their shocking stories, as we’ve read and heard this week, that we can get any sense of the depths of this depravity.

Many of the mothers were little more than children themselves, who had their little babies taken from them and given away with even a sliver of consent.

There were no records of their adoption, and no willingness, even decades later, to help those babies to find their birth mothers. Because to do so would have exposed the cruel and heartless manner of their forced adoptions in the first place.

And yet exposing this scandal is only the first step; an apology was the very least they were entitled to. Now we as a nation, and particularly those religious orders who ran the homes, must do everything to redress this wrong.

We must open the files so that they can discover their full life stories, find their living relatives, and be compensated so that at least the rest of their lives are in complete contrast to all they’ve endured until now.

We need to look at how we can give hundreds of innocent babies a proper burial – however belated and insufficient that may be.

Nothing will undo the damage – but now that the depths of this depravity have finally been laid bare, there must be no equivocation, no prevarication; just a commitment to doing whatever it takes to try and right a terrible wrong.

See full coverage of the Commission’s Report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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