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Capturing the magic of the Shannon

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Carsten Krieger

Lifestyle – Carsten Krieger’s latest book captures the magic of Ireland’s longest river and the places surrounding it. The German-born photographer talks to Judy Murphy about the project.

Portumna, Loughrea and Clonfert are among the places that feature in a beautiful new photographic book, The River Shannon: Ireland’s Majestic Waterway, by Carsten Krieger.  The book encompasses a huge spectrum of life around the Shannon – its landscape, people, heritage and wildlife – and offers a special insight into the longest river in Ireland and the UK.

It’s the result of a two-year project which had its origins a decade ago, a few years after Bavarian-born Carsten and his wife relocated from Germany to Ireland.

“I’d always loved the area and always had in the back of mind to explore it,” he says of the Shannon hinterland.

What makes Carsten’s achievement even more special is that he had no professional background in photography when he moved here – he and his wife, Ina, were paediatric nurses, a profession Ina has continued to pursue.

He’d always wanted to train in photography but was deterred by cost and lack of opportunity in his homeland. However, when the couple relocated in 2002, settling in County Clare, he decided to follow his passion.  And he’s never looked back.

Carsten’s first book, published in 2006, was on the Burren – which was the landscape that lured him here, he says – and since then, he has gone on to produce several other photographic publications, capturing many aspects of Ireland’s landscape and wildlife. He has sold some 50,000 books to date, with titles including the Irish Book Award-nominated Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

Ten years ago, after Carsten had completed his second book, he suggested a new project to his then publishers – one that would involve tracking the River Shannon along its 360km, from its source at the Cavan-Fermanagh border, to where it enters the sea, between Loop Head in Co Clare and Kerry Head.

However, the publishers weren’t interested and he subsequently became absorbed in other projects. In addition to his books, Carsten also works for Fáilte Ireland and the UNESCO-designated Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Man in his 20s killed in Ballinasloe crash

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A man in his 20s was killed in a crash in Ballinasloe this afternoon.

The single vehicle crash occurred on the N63 in Newbridge at around 12.45pm.

A male passenger of the vehicle, who was aged in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to Portiuncula Hospital where a post-mortem will take place.

The driver of the car, a male also aged in his 20s, is receiving medical attention at Portiuncula Hospital.

The road remains closed while investigations continue and local diversions are in place.

Gardaí are appealing to any person who may have witnessed the crash, or who may have dashcam footage from the N63 between 12.20pm and 1pm to contact them.

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Connacht Tribune

Údarás defends financial support of companies on east side of Galway City

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Údarás na Gaeltachta has defended its financial support of companies based on the east side of Galway City and Claregalway.

It comes after the regional authority responsible for economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht was criticised for supporting companies in predominantly English-speaking areas of Parkmore Business Estate and Claregalway.

Kevin O’Hara, a Sinn Féin representative in Conamara, said the State agency should not support companies in Claregalway or Parkmore on the city’s east side. He suggested Enterprise Ireland or the IDA should support those companies rather than An tÚdarás, even though they were technically situated within the Gaeltacht.

Speaking on Adhmaidin on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltacht, he questioned what benefit the Conamara Gaeltacht reaped by Údarás na Gaeltachta supporting enterprises in Parkmore or Claregalway.

Instead, Mr O’Hara said Údarás should focus on supporting jobs from Knocknacarra westwards, in Gaeltacht Conamara, and in particular in Casla, where it was badly needed.

He said it did not make sense for it to be spending money on client companies in Parkmore or Claregalway, and instead it should be focused on where it would be more valuable to the language and Gaeltacht areas, in South Conamara.

The controversy arose after Údarás announced its end-of-year statement for 2022, which highlighted how its client companies in the Galway Gaeltacht had shed jobs last year.

There were a total of 3,222 jobs in Údarás client companies in Galway at the end of last year.

Some 278 new jobs were created in these companies, but 331 jobs were lost, meaning a net loss of 53 jobs.

Údarás said the previous year, 2021, was “exceptional” for job creation.

In a statement to the Tribune, Údarás said it “does not currently support any companies in the Parkmore Business Estate”.

“We offer qualifying businesses and companies from various sectors a range of incentives and supports to start up, develop, expand or locate throughout the Gaeltacht regions, as defined by statute,” it added.

The fall in Galway Gaeltacht employment, it said, was “associated with the closure of some large companies on the eastern edge of the Gaeltacht” – which is understood to be in Parkmore.

“Most of the new jobs were created in companies operating in the medical devices, science and engineering sectors, including Aran Biomedical and Micron Clean in An Spidéal, and ÉireComposites in Indreabhán.

“In addition, there was an increase in employment in niche manufacturing companies as well as in the community services, education and language sectors,” the review said.

In the coming year, job creation will mainly be in the food and drink, biotechnology, audiovisual, aquaculture and services sectors, it said.

Údarás said 2022 was challenging for its client companies due to rising costs, particularly energy, and an uncertain international trading environment due to geopolitical unrest.

“It is clear that some of these challenges will still be with us in 2023. But Gaeltacht companies have shown stability and resilience, driven by constant innovation,” it added.

Language plans were being implemented in eight of the ten Language Planning Areas identified for the Galway Gaeltacht at the end of 2022, with total funding of €1.3m per year.

Implementation of the language plans will begin in the other two Language Planning Areas, An tEachréidh (Claregalway) and Bearna and Cnoc na Cathrach in early 2023.

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Connacht Tribune

‘Gobbledegook’: Galway 2020’s language on €1m legacy funding spend

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The Culture Minister has been pressed to provide clarity on what exactly the €1m ‘legacy’ funding for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture (ECOC) will be spent on.

And Galway West TD Catherine Connolly (Ind) accused Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin of using language that was “gobbledegook” to describe the legacy funding.

The money will be channelled through Galway Culture Company, which is the latest iteration of Galway Cultural Development and Activity CLG, commonly referred to as Galway 2020, which was initially established in 2016 to run and operate the European Capital of Culture designation.

Minister Martin told the Dáil that the company will publish details of its “proposed legacy framework” on its website.

In broad terms, however, she said the €1m legacy funding could be broken down into the delivery of three aims.

There was €300,000 to “facilitate EU and international relationships and funding”; a further €500,000 “to develop and support place-based cultural programming”; and €200,000 “to provide supports to the cultural and creative sector”.

“Galway Culture Company is working to develop the legacy framework of Galway’s designation as European Capital of Culture and to build on the learnings and outcomes of Galway’s many European and global designations, including European Capital of Culture, UNESCO city of film, European Green Leaf city and European region of gastronomy,” Minister Martin said.

But Deputy Connolly expressed frustration at the use of language that lacked clarity.

Repeating that sentence uttered by the Minister, which was a direct quote from the company’s website, Deputy Connolly said: “I feel like saying ‘mother of Jesus’. What are we talking about here with regard the €1m of a legacy in terms of infrastructure and artists on the ground getting money?”

Minister Martin replied: “It is the strategic objective of Galway Culture Company to bring together key agencies and stakeholders to drive forward a collective creative vision for Galway through meaningful partnership and collaboration, so creativity is at the heart of that.

“It will seek to complement the work of the two local authorities in Galway by working with the cultural units in the city and county councils and will assist in the implementation of both arts plans and the cultural strategy.”

Deputy Connolly said Minister Martin’s heart was in the right place, but twice she labelled her description of Galway Culture Company’s role in delivering a legacy for Galway 2020 as “gobbledegook”.

And the Independent TD urged Minister Martin to take a ‘hands-on approach’.

Minister Martin said that physical infrastructure, and new cultural buildings “is not and never has been part of the direct delivery and legacy of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture”.

The delivery of physical arts and cultural infrastructure was a matter for Everybody Matters, Galway cultural strategy 2016-25 developed by its two local authorities, she said.

The €1m for legacy is included in the Department’s €15m overall support for Galway 2020.

Minister Martin had agreed in April of 2021 that the legacy funding would be paid, and she acknowledged in the Dáil last week that the allocation was finally approved last December.

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