The city is abuzz for the annual Galway Races Festival, which got underway yesterday.
Around 150,000 punters are expected to make the pilgrimage to Ballybrit racecourse for famous Galway Race week.
On course bookmakers are expected to turn over in excess of €8 million while the Tote will handle well over €4 million.
The biggest and best racing festival in the country, the Galway Races will pump more than €60 million into the local economy.
Sports Minister Michael Ring yesterday singled out the Galway Races as an event that has helped to boost the country’s overseas tourist numbers.
A total of 52 races will be run over the seven days, with a record number of UK entries declared.
One of the highlights of seven-day festival is Ladies Day, when around 40,000 punters are expected at the course.
The Galway Hurdle is the feature race but all eyes will be on the fashion with the best dressed lady competition sponsored this year again by Anthony Ryan’s.
The top prize is a diamond pendant and matching earrings worth €8,500 as well as €1,000 in cash, a €1,500 shopping spree at their Shop Street store as well as a Lancôme hamper worth €500 and a hospitality package for the Galway Races in October.
The Galway Plate, which goes to post Wednesday, is traditionally another big crowd puller. The prize fund for the Galway Hurdle is €250,000 while there is a €200,000 fund for the Galway Plate.
The Willie Mullins trained favourite for the hurdle, Pique Sous, to be ridden by Paul Townend, has pulled out of the race.
The festival got off to a flyer yesterday evening. Monday’s races were again sponsored by local hotels including Radisson, Galway Bay Hotel, Claregalway Hotel, Clayton Hotel, Connacht Hotel and Pillo Hotel.
Ireland rugby players, Conor Murray, David Kilcoyne, Fergus McFadden, and Robbie Henshaw, as well as former players Alan Quinlan and Stephen Ferris, were among the sports stars at the track for ‘sports hero’ evening.
Racing gets underway at 5.05pm today, Tuesday, and Friday. The first race is off at 3pm on Wednesday, 1.50pm on Thursday, 2.35pm on Saturday and 2.15pm on Sunday.
RTÉ will be showing five races on the first four days of the festival, while At The Races, Sky channel 415, will be showing every race throughout the week. Galway Bay FM will also provide live coverage of every race.
The Tote jackpots for each day of racing will be €30,000 Monday and Tuesday, €40,000 Wednesday and Thursday, €30,000 on Friday, and €20,000 on Saturday and Sunday.
Bus Éireann will operate a regular shuttle bus service from Eyre Square and Irish Rail have added additional trains to their schedule for Wednesday and Thursday.
Punters are advised that children under 12 will be admitted free of charge when accompanied by their parent.
Galway City Council has advised that its recycling centre at Liosbán Estate will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday, and will open as normal the rest of eth week. The city’s dog pound is closed until Tuesday, August 5.
Galway is seventh-worst city in Europe for car traffic congestion
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Car traffic congestion in Galway is quickly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, with commuters spending up to 94 hours caught on the city’s gridlocked arteries last year.
According to data compiled by INRIX, a world-leader in mobility data, Galway is the seventh-worst city in Europe for congestion, an 84% increase on its position in 2021.
The data shows that Galway places in the worst 50 cities in the world for congestion – taking 39th place, with Dublin the only other Irish city placing higher at Number 12.
While the figures show that car traffic has not fully returned to pre-Covid levels, the 2022 figures came within 13% of 2019 congestion rates.
This was despite vast numbers continuing to work from home last year, a worrying trend according to the local People Before Profit representative Adrian Curran.
In Cork, Limerick and Dublin, there had been a more lasting effect, showing decreases of 20%, 26% and 29% respectively, he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.
Galway 2020 paid €110,000 for PR while cutting spends on arts events
From this week’s City Tribune – Galway 2020’s bank account statements for five months of 2020 reveal thousands of euro were spent on public relations firms and media advertising when its cultural programme was being cut and ‘revised’ during the upheaval at the onset of Covid-19.
The AIB statements date from April to September of 2020, when Covid-19 had seriously curtailed cultural activities of Galway 2020, the company behind the city and county’s European Capital of Culture. They show more than €110,000 was paid to Dublin-based public relations firm Q4 PR, in three separate payments in April, May and June of 2020.
Thousands more were paid to other public relations firms, radio stations and, to a lesser extent, newspapers.
In March of that year, Galway 2020 announced it was reviewing its programme of events due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Government after a global pandemic was declared, curtailing all events.
On April 7, it confirmed it was laying off staff and had ended its agreement with Helen Marriage and Artichoke which was providing creative direction.
Later that month, it issued statements to say it was exploring a ‘re-imagined’ programme of events to take place at the end of 2020 and 2021.
Although the amounts paid to media and PR companies other than Q4 PR are relatively small, compared with expenditure on other headings, the payments suggest the importance Galway 2020 placed on image and public perception around that time.
The bank statements were released to the Galway City Tribune following a protracted Freedom of Information request and after an appeal to the Office of Information Commissioner.
Many of the payees in the bank statements were redacted but the names of several PR and media organisations are listed as having been paid by Galway 2020.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article with details of the spending, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also coverage of this week’s rebranding and new vision of Galway 2020. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.
Plans for major upgrade of community centre to benefit Mervue
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Plans for a major overhaul of the community centre in the basement of Mervue Church – including activity rooms, a meeting room, training space and a hairdressing salon – have been lodged at City Hall.
It will employ more than 20 people on a full and part-time basis – including Community Employment Scheme workers.
COPE Galway has sought planning permission for a series of changes to the Holy Family Church including alterations to the basement layout; a new main entrance; concrete stairs from the carpark and the reopening of windows at basement level.
“The proposed refurbished and upgraded community centre will provide a vibrant and dynamic space for the community of Mervue. The space will act as a central hub and meeting place which can be used for a variety of community activities, meetings and events,” the application reads.
It notes a series of “typical occupants” including: reception; an information hub; general activity room (arts and crafts, games and light exercise); sensory/meditation room; clinic room for health checks and physiotherapy; space for people with dementia; toilets and shower room; pet therapy area; space for teens/young adults; laundry; hairdressing salon; computer training room; meeting room (with possibility of rental to local groups); small café and kitchen, space for a men’s shed and an outside garden with seating area.
“The centre will also provide employment and will be staffed with a diversity of employees, including Community Employment Scheme workers and volunteers of differing age and other social demographics,” the application reads.
Image: An artist’s impression of the cafe in the proposed centre.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.