Busking has always been a part of Galway’s culture, with a huge variety of street performers gracing the streets every day of the week. In fact, many of Galway’s top buskers have gone on to greatness, with Ed Sheeran, David McSavage and Little John Nee starting off in the City of Tribes.
For many of Galway’s regular buskers, performing in the streets is a way of making a living. One such busker is Holland-native Robin Hey, a folk singer, musician and song-writer who can regularly be found at various parts of Shop Street in rain, hail or snow – quite literally as a photo on the front page of the Irish Independent recently proved.
“That was very cold,” Robin joked, remembering the photo that got him into the national newspapers. When a sudden downpour of hail and snow started on the afternoon in question, Robin decided to just keep playing instead of running for shelter, proving just how dedicated he is to his music.
“I just like to finish my set. When you’re standing out there, you don’t really feel the cold as much. It’s only hard on the fingers.”
Robin’s list of songs includes some much-loved Irish classics like ‘Raglan Road’ and ‘The Wild Rover’ to name a few. These songs go down well with tourists who could spend up to an hour sitting on the ledge of eason’s, listening to the classic Irish ballads.
“The Irish music is known all over the world. I’m a big fan of the Dubliners and the Pogues and I always went to the Dubliners concerts when they played in the Netherlands. My favourite bands are the Pogues, the Dubliners, the Chieftains and the Clancy Brothers. I really like that kind of music so I picked up a banjo and started singing and playing,” said Robin.
As well as performing some much-loved tunes – or much-hated, depending on your tastes – Robin writes his own music. To him, music is his career and his only source of income, so busking and performing are his way of life. He lives, sleeps and breathes music.
“I started busking around ten years ago on my travels. I still travel around sometimes and I’d like to do it more this year. I did more gigs in the beginning, but the pubs are a bit quiet at the moment,” said Robin, whose voice and singing style divide opinions among the public, with some enjoying his performances and others finding it too loud.
“For the past few years music is my only income. See, that’s the reason I busk a bit more these days. I started busking on my travels and sometimes I did it in Holland as well as outside some pubs. It was more fun at the time, but now I make a living of it.”
But discussions have been taking place regarding new bylaws that could be put in place for buskers in Galway, after Dublin City Council’s recent introduction of busking regulations which ban performances that reach noise levels of over 80 decibels and require buskers to purchase an annual permit.
“Galway is famous for its music and busking tradition, however in recent years complaints about street performing to the City Council, An Garda Síochána and the various business representative organisations have increased significantly,” according to the Galway City Council.
The complaints in question relate to “loud, continuous and repetitive noise, obstruction of premises and thoroughfare, busking taking place at night disturbing city residents, and intimidation by some performers soliciting donations”.
Existing bylaws on street performances, which were introduced in 2011, restricted late-night busking, but these regulations do not address the issues that are the main source of ongoing complaints.
“With this in mind, Galway City Council are reviewing the whole area of street performance and busking in the City and considering the possible introduction of a policy and/or bylaws to regulate and encourage street performance in a manner consistent with the overall public interest,” according to the City Council.
The purpose of this review and any proposed bylaws is to “attempt to regulate busking in the City Centre in a managed way, to make street performing a more positive experience for all and to mitigate the problems currently being experienced”.
“At the same time, the importance of street performance and buskers to Galway City’s vibrancy, culture and attraction must be acknowledged,” said the Galway City Council.
Robin Hey has been busking in the streets of Galway for a number of years now, contributing to the city’s popular musical scene. “I think Galway is a great town with music in bars and on the street and acts that make the town unique,” he said.
“I don’t see myself doing something else other than playing music and it’s the only thing that keeps me going. But if they’re going to make it difficult in Galway for buskers to perform, that means I have to leave this town and go somewhere different.”
But he’s hopeful that any bylaws will be fair and allow him to continue with his passion “because I think it’s a great town. But if I’m going to live somewhere else in the future, I would always love to go back to Holland with the banjo for a few songs and a few tunes.”
Whatever the outcome, Robin Hey’s music won’t be stopping anytime soon.
Man in his 20s killed in Ballinasloe crash
A man in his 20s was killed in a crash in Ballinasloe this afternoon.
The single vehicle crash occurred on the N63 in Newbridge at around 12.45pm.
A male passenger of the vehicle, who was aged in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to Portiuncula Hospital where a post-mortem will take place.
The driver of the car, a male also aged in his 20s, is receiving medical attention at Portiuncula Hospital.
The road remains closed while investigations continue and local diversions are in place.
Gardaí are appealing to any person who may have witnessed the crash, or who may have dashcam footage from the N63 between 12.20pm and 1pm to contact them.
Údarás defends financial support of companies on east side of Galway City
Údarás na Gaeltachta has defended its financial support of companies based on the east side of Galway City and Claregalway.
It comes after the regional authority responsible for economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht was criticised for supporting companies in predominantly English-speaking areas of Parkmore Business Estate and Claregalway.
Kevin O’Hara, a Sinn Féin representative in Conamara, said the State agency should not support companies in Claregalway or Parkmore on the city’s east side. He suggested Enterprise Ireland or the IDA should support those companies rather than An tÚdarás, even though they were technically situated within the Gaeltacht.
Speaking on Adhmaidin on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltacht, he questioned what benefit the Conamara Gaeltacht reaped by Údarás na Gaeltachta supporting enterprises in Parkmore or Claregalway.
Instead, Mr O’Hara said Údarás should focus on supporting jobs from Knocknacarra westwards, in Gaeltacht Conamara, and in particular in Casla, where it was badly needed.
He said it did not make sense for it to be spending money on client companies in Parkmore or Claregalway, and instead it should be focused on where it would be more valuable to the language and Gaeltacht areas, in South Conamara.
The controversy arose after Údarás announced its end-of-year statement for 2022, which highlighted how its client companies in the Galway Gaeltacht had shed jobs last year.
There were a total of 3,222 jobs in Údarás client companies in Galway at the end of last year.
Some 278 new jobs were created in these companies, but 331 jobs were lost, meaning a net loss of 53 jobs.
Údarás said the previous year, 2021, was “exceptional” for job creation.
In a statement to the Tribune, Údarás said it “does not currently support any companies in the Parkmore Business Estate”.
“We offer qualifying businesses and companies from various sectors a range of incentives and supports to start up, develop, expand or locate throughout the Gaeltacht regions, as defined by statute,” it added.
The fall in Galway Gaeltacht employment, it said, was “associated with the closure of some large companies on the eastern edge of the Gaeltacht” – which is understood to be in Parkmore.
“Most of the new jobs were created in companies operating in the medical devices, science and engineering sectors, including Aran Biomedical and Micron Clean in An Spidéal, and ÉireComposites in Indreabhán.
“In addition, there was an increase in employment in niche manufacturing companies as well as in the community services, education and language sectors,” the review said.
In the coming year, job creation will mainly be in the food and drink, biotechnology, audiovisual, aquaculture and services sectors, it said.
Údarás said 2022 was challenging for its client companies due to rising costs, particularly energy, and an uncertain international trading environment due to geopolitical unrest.
“It is clear that some of these challenges will still be with us in 2023. But Gaeltacht companies have shown stability and resilience, driven by constant innovation,” it added.
Language plans were being implemented in eight of the ten Language Planning Areas identified for the Galway Gaeltacht at the end of 2022, with total funding of €1.3m per year.
Implementation of the language plans will begin in the other two Language Planning Areas, An tEachréidh (Claregalway) and Bearna and Cnoc na Cathrach in early 2023.
‘Gobbledegook’: Galway 2020’s language on €1m legacy funding spend
The Culture Minister has been pressed to provide clarity on what exactly the €1m ‘legacy’ funding for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture (ECOC) will be spent on.
And Galway West TD Catherine Connolly (Ind) accused Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin of using language that was “gobbledegook” to describe the legacy funding.
The money will be channelled through Galway Culture Company, which is the latest iteration of Galway Cultural Development and Activity CLG, commonly referred to as Galway 2020, which was initially established in 2016 to run and operate the European Capital of Culture designation.
Minister Martin told the Dáil that the company will publish details of its “proposed legacy framework” on its website.
In broad terms, however, she said the €1m legacy funding could be broken down into the delivery of three aims.
There was €300,000 to “facilitate EU and international relationships and funding”; a further €500,000 “to develop and support place-based cultural programming”; and €200,000 “to provide supports to the cultural and creative sector”.
“Galway Culture Company is working to develop the legacy framework of Galway’s designation as European Capital of Culture and to build on the learnings and outcomes of Galway’s many European and global designations, including European Capital of Culture, UNESCO city of film, European Green Leaf city and European region of gastronomy,” Minister Martin said.
But Deputy Connolly expressed frustration at the use of language that lacked clarity.
Repeating that sentence uttered by the Minister, which was a direct quote from the company’s website, Deputy Connolly said: “I feel like saying ‘mother of Jesus’. What are we talking about here with regard the €1m of a legacy in terms of infrastructure and artists on the ground getting money?”
Minister Martin replied: “It is the strategic objective of Galway Culture Company to bring together key agencies and stakeholders to drive forward a collective creative vision for Galway through meaningful partnership and collaboration, so creativity is at the heart of that.
“It will seek to complement the work of the two local authorities in Galway by working with the cultural units in the city and county councils and will assist in the implementation of both arts plans and the cultural strategy.”
Deputy Connolly said Minister Martin’s heart was in the right place, but twice she labelled her description of Galway Culture Company’s role in delivering a legacy for Galway 2020 as “gobbledegook”.
And the Independent TD urged Minister Martin to take a ‘hands-on approach’.
Minister Martin said that physical infrastructure, and new cultural buildings “is not and never has been part of the direct delivery and legacy of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture”.
The delivery of physical arts and cultural infrastructure was a matter for Everybody Matters, Galway cultural strategy 2016-25 developed by its two local authorities, she said.
The €1m for legacy is included in the Department’s €15m overall support for Galway 2020.
Minister Martin had agreed in April of 2021 that the legacy funding would be paid, and she acknowledged in the Dáil last week that the allocation was finally approved last December.