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Claddagh ‘housheen’ is a step back into history



For the first time in over 80 years, an authentic Claddagh cottage is to open its half-doors to the people of Galway in one of the oldest villages in the land.

The cottage has been been a labour of love for the family behind the Claddagh Arts Centre who hope to attract locals and visitors alike to take a step back into a world long gone.

The walls have been built with lime mortar and local stone, some sourced from an original thatched Claddagh cottage and then whitewashed in the traditional picturesque way.

Upstairs in the loft.

Upstairs in the loft.

A stone fireplace has been added made of locally-sourced stone and the roof was constructed from bog oak rafters, cross members of hazel and willow before being topped with bog scraw and finished in wheaten straw thatch. The floor boasts indigenous flagstone, windows of old-style timber sash with front and backdoor half-doors.

The cottage on Upper Fairhill Road promises to be a hive of activity with workshops on stone and wood carving planned, with the space available for community events such as traditional music nights, Irish language classes and charity fundraisers.

The cottage dovetails into the arts centre where there are traditional bog oak sculptures as well as wood and stone carvings for sale.  Two stonemasons and two thatchers were employed to lend their skills to the cottage, but much of the work was done by volunteers recruited from the family.

Cathriona Walsh of the Claddagh Arts Centre has described the idyllic ‘housheen’ as “the only authentic Claddagh cottage in the world”. They have funded the project without any grants or public donations despite a plea on a crowd funding website.

“We applied for so many grants, but nothing ever materialised. They said it was a private enterprise but it’s going to be a museum with the tea brewing and the scones baking over the fire. A place to come for a chat and to relax in our beautiful landscaped gardens,” she explained.

“We haven’t got a final costing but it’s cost at least €50 to €60,000. I and my parents have put the money into it. It’s the final push now, but it’s difficult as I’m going into pensions,” said the 25-year-old accountant.

Claddagh cottage

Claddagh cottage

“The cottage will be a tourist attraction, a huge addition to Galway’s cultural attributes, a museum and a place where descendants from the old Claddagh people can come to learn about their history.”

Already it has proved a magnet for tourists walking around the Claddagh, wondering how something so new could appear so old.

Kay Conroy, who had tried to fundraise to rebuild a Claddagh cottage as far back as 1968 but was unable to get a suitable site, was given the honour of turning the first sod on the build last October.

The Claddagh Arts Centre opened three years ago and has become an unlikely haven for local crafts. The family hope the draw of the thatched cottage will attract even more visitors.

The Claddagh is one of the oldest villages in Ireland with its existence having first been recorded with the arrival of Christianity in the 5th century. Claddagh locals supplied the city with seafood up until the 19th century and hosted regular fish markets.

The original cottages were demolished in 1935 to make way for a local authority estate. With the help of books, photos and the knowledge of locals, the family have gone to a lot of effort to ensure the cottage’s authenticity in dimensions, materials, layout and contents.

A stone carving inside the cottage.

A stone carving inside the cottage.

Initially the plans were given the thumbs down by planners, who complained about unauthorised uses on the site, including the sale of firewood and turf and physiotherapy services. They also found that elements of the original design did not accord with a traditional cottage and requested the Centre to liaise with the Council’s Heritage Officer to address concerns over the accuracy of certain elements.


Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service



The Blood Bike team and supporters with the charity’ s newest motorbike, Cara, during the fundraising day at the Galway Plaza. Pictured are (from left) John Moylan, Bridie Lyons (Fundraising Manager), Sean Griffin, Fergus Turner, James Treacy, Pat McDonagh, Dave O'Leary (Chairperson), Ronan Kane (Fleet Manager), and Sergio Massidda.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.

Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.

The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.

As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.

Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow:  collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.

In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.

As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.

Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.


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Park fun to mark Africa Day



Pam Mncube-Zoki of Africa United Galway, speaking at the National Integration Conference at NUI Galway last week. The group are co-organisers of Africa Day which takes place in Salthill Park on May 28. Photo:xposure

On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.

Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.

Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.

Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.

Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.

In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.

Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.

The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.

Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.

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Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’



At the launch of the Domestic Violence Response (DVR) Annual Report were Rachel Doyle and Elizabeth Power of DVR, Deputy Catherine Connolly and Anne Reynolds. Photos Sean Lydon


A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.

Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.

The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.

The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.

Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.

“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.

“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.

“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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