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Connacht Tribune

Villagers gather to commemorate lives lost in mine explosion

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A grey and windy evening, but a dry one, greeted the crowds who assembled on Trá Mór, Inverin, on Friday last for an unusual and poignant piece of theatre.

Pléasc commemorated a tragedy from 100 years ago in which a mine from World War I exploded on Trá Shalach, killing nine local men. This live, open-air re-enactment was produced by Fíbín and was a true community initiative.

The drama unfolded slowly on Friday as people of all ages were guided onto the beach – not the one where the tragedy happened, but nearby.

The men who had discovered the mine in 1917 simply saw a large barrel-like object, like nothing they’d ever seen before. And they weren’t aware of the dangers when they went to examine it. They unknowingly triggered the mine by straightening a spike, which they thought might be a latch that might open the ‘barrel’ and reveal its contents.

The death of nine men, aged from 14 to 52, had a massive impact on an isolated Gaeltacht community and 100 years on, local people turned out in strength for Pléasc. Many of those present had lost family members, including the writer Eoin Mac Diarmada, whose great-grandfather Éamonn was among the casualties.

As a drama, Pléasc had pretty much had everything, including the fact that one man, Joe Hughie Ó Fátharta survived the explosion. And his story was central to Friday night’s performance.

The actors were in character as the audience arrived on the beach, while Cór Chois Fharraige were at the far side, accompanied by local musicians, all dressed in black. Their contribution was a highlight of the drama, which was told simply and straightforwardly. For some, the interpretation was too literal, especially the moment when the explosion occurred.

However, that was followed by a poignant scene where the ‘ghosts’ of the men, accompanied by young children, filed along the beach carrying plaques inscribed with the names of the dead.

Pléasc was performed as part of a programme of commemorative events, Cuimneachán an ‘Mine’ 1917-2017, organised by Cumann Forbartha Chois Fharraige.

The previous evening, at an Trá Shalach, the site of the explosion, a lone piper led some 300 people onto the beach where Mass was celebrated by local priest, An that Stiofán Ó Donnchadha, in memory of the men.

The community gathered again on Saturday at An Poitín Stil for the launch of An Mine: Sléacht agus Ár i gCois Fharraige. Published by Cló Iar-Chonnacht in association with the Mine Commemoration Committee, this book about the tragedy was edited by Lochlainn Ó Tuairisc.

See full story and pictures in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Record crowds pack Ballinasloe to celebrate Fair’s 300th anniversary

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Crowds flock to the Fairgreen at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair.

RECORD crowds packed into Ballinasloe last weekend for the return of the famous October Fair – but it turned to be a ‘dry day’ for the punters with most of the pubs in the town taking the decision to close their doors on Sunday.

Hotels in the town also adopted either a ‘food only’ or ‘residents only’ policy through Sunday but Gardaí reported a trouble-free weekend in the town.

“There were huge crowds around and especially so on Sunday, but we had no reports of any trouble – it was practically an incident free weekend,” said a Garda spokesperson.

Many visitors to the Fair on Sunday expressed disappointment at the decision of the pubs to close  – although a few establishments did open their doors with special security arrangements in place.

The last ‘official fair’ took place in October, 2019, and while there was an unofficial event last year, it was only a small gathering due to the Covid restrictions.

An estimated 3,000 people turned out for the free open-air country music concert with Mike Denver in the Square on Sunday afternoon and Fair organisers also reported a very busy sales day with many horses changing hands.

Trustee of the Ballinasloe Showgrounds, Gerry Stronge, told the Connacht Tribune, that after a three-year break, the crowds had really thronged back into the town on Sunday.

“Most people I know that have been attending the Fair for years said that it was biggest crowd they had ever seen there on the first Sunday of the event.

“It was an incredible day – the streets were absolutely jammed with people – and it was most enjoyable with no trouble whatsoever,” he said.

Get the full story with loads of photos in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

A remarkable rally sees St Thomas’ reel in the ’Bridge

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Clarinbridge's Conor Lee tries to shake off the attentions of St Thomas' Victor Manso during Saturday's Senior A Group tie at Kenny Park. Photos: David Cunniffe.

St. Thomas’ 4-20

Clarinbridge 4-17

DARREN KELLY AT KENNY PARK

NOTHING at ‘stake’ but pride and last year’s two senior hurling championship finalists had plenty of that on Saturday as St. Thomas and Clarinbridge served up a thriller in their final group game.

Both teams were already guaranteed places in the knockout stages but for the winners, a path straight through to the quarter-finals proper was the reward and they played like that meant everything.

Obviously, neither side wanted to show weakness ahead of a potential showdown later in the year. The contest even had a half-time scuffle that resulted in yellow cards for St. Thomas’ duo John Headd and Conor Cooney.

Despite all that and the changing weather, the hurling was the only item for discussion afterwards. Three first half Clarinbridge goals gave them a 3-10 to 0-11 interval lead.  Four green flags for St. Thomas in the second period reminded the county that they still are the team to beat.

And that was the talking point before throw-in following their 22-match unbeaten streak ending with a heavy defeat to Turloughmore two weeks previously. And it wasn’t looking any better for St. Thomas’ when TJ Brennan struck a second minute goal for Clarinbridge.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Recalling strange times that ‘shook up’ our lives

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

THE other day while doing another of those clear-outs of old documents that are well past their sell-by-date, I came across a couple of letters from my employer, which jolted me back into another world . . . but still a quite recent one.

Their purpose was to indicate that I needed to show up for work in-person (an essential employee if you don’t mind!) and if I was stopped at a Garda Covid checkpoint, then I could produce this piece of paperwork. We really did go through some strange times.

There are occasions too when I leave my desk and just for a split-second think that I’ve forgotten to don my mask. That same feeling also crosses my mind at times as I enter shops or other public places but then I realise that’s all very much of ‘yesterday’s news’.

Reminders still persist of those black days across the country mostly on visits to healthcare settings like pharmacies, GP surgeries or nursing homes, where staff still wear masks, and visitors are encouraged to do the same.

It takes me back to a Sunday evening on March 15, 2020, in my local watering hole less than 48-hours before the arrival of St. Patrick’s Day, when we were all highly sceptical about any pubs closing down.

We reassured ourselves too that such a development could never happen in a country noted for ‘the craic’ as our traditional day of national celebration approached. In our innocence, we thought we were wise old sods . . . but we had gotten things spectacularly wrong.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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