Philippe Robrecht was relaxing at home on Inishbofin a couple of weeks ago when he started getting calls and texts from his native Belgium.
The 55-year-old, who’d settled in Bofin with his wife Leen in 2017, was astonished to learn that a song he’d recorded in the early 1990s had featured in a popular talent show in his homeland.
Not only that, but the song, Magie/Magic, then went to number one in the streaming charts there.
This talent show features new interpretation of old songs and these cover versions often hit the charts, he explains. But on this occasion, it was Philippe’s original recording – which had first charted in 1993 – that reached Number 1. The cover version charted too, reaching Number 3.
Philippe, who runs a recording studio and a B&B on Inishbofin, was famous in Belgium in the 1990s, recording nine successful albums with his pop band and gigging extensively. He shared a touring agent with bands including the Levellers and the Pogues.
He’s not sure why his version of Magi went to Number 1 now, but thinks maybe it struck a chord with young people, while there are also lots of fans from the 1990s who “enjoy my music and put a value on the lyrics”. The original was an expensive production, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra and was included on his debut album which sold 25,000 copies.
Whatever the reason, he’s happy, although he’s never cultivated fan clubs.
“I didn’t do recruiting. I hated it.”
Philippe would simply let people know when he’d released an album and after that, it was their choice whether to buy it or not. That’s something he still does today – his latest album, 2020, contains 11 new songs and 11 older ones, including Magi, all with new arrangements.
There’s been a great reaction in Belgium to Magi’s newfound success and he’s done some press and radio there.
“I enjoyed it,” he says with a laugh, adding that sometimes the least work yields the greatest rewards.
“I spend months working on an album, creating songs, rehearsing them, recording them in studio and, on occasion, you might be delighted with the result. This time, I did nothing. It was all because of a cover version.”
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.
Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain
Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain
The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir
The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete
Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.
Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.
Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.
Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.