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Dramatic times with Galway Theatre Festival




Singer-songwriter John Conneely with the General Manager of Galway Theatre Festval, Béatrice Lemoine, at the launch of this year's programme in Biteclub. The Festival will take place from May 3 to 11.

Are you there Una?, a show based on the life of Una Taaffe, which its creator Elaine Mears describes as “a reclamation and restoration picture” of the legendary Galway City woman who ran the sweater shop on William Street, is among the highlights of this year’s Galway Theatre Festival.

The Festival will take place from May 3-11 and was officially launched on Monday night by Jane Daly of the Irish Theatre Institute.

She stressed the need for “more funding, more incentives, and more infrastructural and long-term supports” for people working in theatre the West of Ireland, as part of a broader cultural strategy for the region.

Galway Theatre Festival Director, Sorcha Keane, invited audiences to “reconnect with our imagination, our sense of wonder, and explore the magic that connects us all”.

Are You there Una?, which will run from May 3-6 in Druid’s Mick Lally Theatre, incorporates live music from Anna Mullarkey and video design by artist Jennifer Cunningham as well as recorded tracks from the band, Thieves of Silence. It previously appeared at the Theatre Festival as a work-in-progress,

The Realness of Miss Representation by songwriter and storyteller Steven Sharpe (from May 7-9 in the Town Hall Studio), is an autobiographical look at being a 30-something-year-old gay man in post-equality Ireland.

It’s one of several other Galway shows in the programme.

Galway Community Circus will present 4 Elements on May 7 in St Joseph’s Community Centre, Shantalla, using circus art to explore the connections and boundaries between the four elements of earth, air, fire and water.

Behind Closed Doors from May 8-11 at Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUIG, is being devised and will be presented by actors living in direct provision in Ireland. Adults of varying ages from different countries will tell their stories of sharing rooms and living in situations that offer neither privacy nor dignity. Conflicts break out over such seemingly simple rights as using the bathroom, keeping lights on, trying to study or trying to sleep in a system that dehumanises and disempowers people while having the capacity to institutionalise them.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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GMIT warns partying students they are delaying return to campus

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Partying students have been told their actions have impacted GMIT’s plans to re-start practical classes on campus – and Gardaí are monitoring the city’s bus and train stations to catch those breaking the 5km travel restriction by returning home for the weekend.

College authorities said the current “extremely serious outbreak” of Covid-19 among students in Galway City was caused by a small minority who are “moving and mixing between different households”.

Following a meeting with Gardaí last week, GMIT contacted all students to clarify that because there are no ‘onsite’ classes, there should be no need to travel for educational purposes.

“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” students were told.

In a separate communication issued this week, the college’s Covid Officer appealed to students to abide by the rules.

“This outbreak has had an impact on our plans with regard to return to onsite practical work, with consequences for all students.

“We are appealing to all students to comply with all Covid restrictions and in doing so, to help ensure that those students who have to return to onsite practical work can do so,” the email read.

Many students from outside the city have opted to stay in their accommodation for access to better broadband.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more coverage of Covid figures and vaccinations, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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