Lifestyle – Treasa Ní Cheannabháin has always been ready to take on life’s challenges. The singer, social activist and retired teacher, who is known for her humanitarian work in the Middle East, tells JUDY MURPHY about joining the cast of Ros na Rún.
When Treasa Ní Cheannabháin was asked to audition for a key role in the current series of Ros na Rún, she was happy to oblige But then, when she was offered the part of Jude Ní Neachtain, Treasa’s initial reaction was “I wouldn’t be able for it”.
Happily, Ros na Rún’s series producer Deirdre Ní Fhlatharta knew better.
The award-wining sean-nós singer, community activist, retired teacher and amateur actor can now, in her mid-60s, add ‘professional actor’ to her CV.
There will be plenty of twists and turns for her character of Jude before this series ends, as this fearless Connemara woman explains.
Treasa grew up in Cill Chiaráin, one of a family of six – four girls and two boys. She attributes her fearlessness to her place in the family; between the two boys.
She certainly is brave.
Treasa hit the headlines in 2008 when she was arrested by the Egyptian Army while trying to enter Gaza with humanitarian aid, accompanied by her daughter Naisrín and her Egyptian husband’s niece Sehan. They were bringing aid to Palestinian children in the Gazan refugee camps. It was Treasa’s fifth time travelling to Gaza, the tiny Palestinian territory that has been cut off from the world by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. Since her arrest, she’s no longer allowed to visit. But Treasa is still involved in highlighting the dreadful conditions in Gaza and supporting children in the camps.
She has also been vocal about human-rights violations in Syria during that country’s complicated and devastating civil war – condemning perpetrators from all sides.
Before becoming involved in Middle Eastern politics, Treasa was a key member of Gluaiseacht Cearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta in the 1970s. More recently, she was involved in the anti-water charges campaign.
So she’s a tough cookie. But a tough cookie with warmth, a sense of fun and compassion – you’d like to have her in your corner. And if she were, you’d probably end up singing!
“Our family were known for our sean-nós songs and all of us went around to fleadhs and concerts,” she says of growing up in Cill Chiaráin.
Treasa has passed on that gift to her four children – and now her oldest daughter, Róisín Elsafty, is passing it on to Treasa’s three grandchildren.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Hospitals cope with overcrowding and staff shortages as Covid crisis peaks
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
Suffer little children – report shines a light into shameful past
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
Galway couple celebrate a remarkable 75th wedding anniversary
THEY are without doubt the King and Queen of Rosscahill – 104-year-old Martin McEvilly and his 96-year-old wife, Kathleen – who last week celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.
Both Martin and Kathleen still live at home as part of the Killannin community, and although Covid has presented its difficulties, they still managed to have a small anniversary celebration on January 7 last.
The couple tied the knot back on January 7, 1946, just three months after World War II had ended, when Martin was 29 and his bride – also a McEvilly (from nearby Oughterard) – was just 21 years of age.
Seven children later – three boys and four girls – there are now also many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to carry on the McEvilly lineage, and hopefully too, the genetic gift of longevity.
Two of ‘the lads’ – Pat and Mike – still live locally as do daughters Noreen (now a carer for her parents) and Madge, while John (the youngest) is in Boston, with daughters Mary and Christina in Sydney and Australia.
Son Pat, who lives in Knockferry, said that the 75th diamond wedding anniversary, was still a very special occasion for the family and one of great happiness.
“You don’t hear of them too often – 75th wedding anniversaries – and it was a very special occasion for all of us, to have our parents still alive and well,” said Pat.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie