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Connacht Tribune

Centre stage



Fregoli Theatre Company Director Maria Tivnan (left) during rehearsal with (from left) actors Maria Dillon, Jerry Fitzgerald, ÓisÍn Robbins and Jarlath Tivnan. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – Professional Galway drama troupe, Fregoli, will be in the spotlight next week when they premiere an exciting original production for the Galway Theatre Festival in the home of Druid Theatre. They have come a long way since their debut show in 2006 as Dara Bradley found out.

Depending on your bent, perceptions of Project 06 can be roughly separated into two broad camps.  It was either an unnecessary, divisive distraction from the good work of the ever-evolving Galway Arts Festival, which was producing quality, varied programmes that compared favourably with arts festivals around the World.

Or it was a timely reminder that, in 2006, Galway Arts Festival had lost its way, had grown elitist, moved on from its roots in the community, and had diminished involvement of local acts, artists, musicians and companies.

But for a small group of NUI Galway students, Project 06 was much more than that: it was the mother that gave birth to the theatre company that later became known as Fregoli.

A group from Dramsoc, the college’s society for students with an interest in theatre, staged a children’s show, Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl, during the one-off alternative festival.

Though it was small-scale stuff – they didn’t even have a theatre and it was put-on at the university squash court – this Project 06 production was the seed that grew into one of Galway’s best-known theatre companies.

“It kind of provided the momentum,” recalls Maria Tivnan, who has been Fregoli artistic director since the beginning.

“We were having the craic, and we just enjoyed being part of something. It created a sense of urgency and sense of momentum. It created the belief that you could take over the world. That’s good.

“I think you need that at times and that was encouraged by Ollie Jennings (founder of both Galway Arts Festival and Project 06). It was a ‘we are in Galway and we can do this work’ spirit,” says the Barna-based, Roscommon native.

The next milestone of the road to establishing a theatre company in Galway City came when Maria, and other students who were there from the beginning – Rob McFeely, who is now her husband, Dara Finn, Rebecca Ryan, and Tracy Bruen – gained recognition at Irish Student Drama Awards, scooping two gongs.

Rob won best director; Maria won best actress; Dara was nominated for best actor; and their production was nominated for best production.

“One of the judges said to me after, ‘I assume you’re doing this?’ And I sort of said ‘well, not really, we’re sort of doing things here and there’ but she said: ‘Well, you should be’. That sort of finalised it, if you like. We sort of said, ‘well why aren’t we?’. It came out of that,” says Maria.

The name came later, discovered by Dara, who was studying medicine.

Fregoli is a syndrome, “which is a psychological disorder where you think that everyone in the room is the one person playing many parts,” she says.

It was named after a famous Italian 18th century impersonator, Leopold Fregoli.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars



Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.

That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.

Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.

Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.

Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.

“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.

“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.

Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year.  Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.

Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.

Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.

“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.

Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team



Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78



Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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