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.
Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road
Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.
This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.
It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.
During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.
Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.
While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.
Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.
Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.
In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.
Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.
“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.
“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.
“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.
The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.
Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.
(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)
New fire station for Athenry gets stamp of approval
Councillors have given their stamp of approval to a new fire station for Athenry – voting unanimously to grant planning for the development at Ballygarraun South.
The site of just under two acres, located between the new Presentation College and the railway line, will house a station as well as a training tower and parking.
Chief Fire Officer Paul Duffy told a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week that they hoped to have a contractor appointed by the end of October, with works to get underway soon afterwards.
“We have worked very hard to get this project to a tangible position and it’s great that the ‘Part 8’ planning application [one which requires a vote by councillors] has been adopted today,” said Mr Duffy.
“This will hopefully get underway this year and we can move on to other stations [in the county], with another one planned for next year and another the year after,” he added.
The plans include the construction of a 361 square metre fire station with finishing materials common to the area which ‘will link the development on the site to the context overall’.
Permission has been granted from the IDA, which owns the site, for Galway County Council to proceed with the development on their lands.
The meeting heard that consideration had been given to the sightlines for exiting fire trucks and that amendments had been made to the original plans to ensure they were adequate.
Local area councillor Gabe Cronnelly (Ind) said the progression of a new fire station for the town was hugely welcome, adding that it had been years in the making.
“We have to give huge credit to Paul Duffy who pursued this. Athenry is one of the busiest stations in the county. We secured an extension for the existing station six years ago and when the Department was granting that, they could see that, from the amount of calls it was getting, that a new station was justified,” said Cllr Cronnelly.
Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) said she was ‘delighted’ that the area’s representatives had given the proposal their unanimous backing.
Teen arrested over €45,000 cocaine seizure
Gardaí have seized €45,000 of what they believe to be cocaine in Ballinasloe.
Gardaí attached to Ballinasloe Garda Station conducted an intelligence-led operation in the Dunlo Harbour area of the town yesterday.
During the course of this operation a quantity of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth €45,000, concealed on derelict grounds was seized.
A male in his mid-teens was arrested at the scene and detained at Ballinasloe Garda Station on Sunday.
He has since been released with a file being prepared for the Garda Youth Diversion Office.
The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels.