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Connacht Tribune

Galway Arts Festival founder urges current regime to engage more with local acts



Ollie Jennings recalling the tenth Galway Arts Festival, in this wall of fame in Neachtains pub. Photo: Joe o'Shaughnessy.

The founder of Galway Arts Festival Ollie Jennings has called upon the current directors of Ireland’s biggest arts festival to engage more with Galway acts and “include them a bit more in the programme”.

Jennings, who since went on to manage the Saw Doctors, made his comments in an interview with the Tribune as preparations are underway to mark the 40th Arts Festival.

Ollie, who is no longer involved with the event, spearheaded the original Festival in 1978, in a pop-up venue in what is now Sheridan’s Wine Bar.

He described the Galway Festival now as “the biggest producer of art in the West of Ireland because of the public money it receives”.

On top of that, the organisation “gets phenomenal money” to promote itself, so its support “would be invaluable for local bands and theatre groups”.

The Festival received a €530,000 grant from the Arts Council and €275,000 from Fáilte Ireland this year– in addition Dublin’s Landmark Theatre received €99,892 from the Arts Council specifically to premiere the show Woyzeck in Winter in partnership with Galway International Arts Festival.

In addition, Landmark received €500,000 from the Arts Council to fund a new opera production, The Second Violinist by Donncha Dennehy and Enda Walsh – the biggest single allocation for a single production this year and the opera will premiere at this year’s Festival.

“I am delighted the Festival is doing so well and I salute them for their success in New York [the Festival’s productions of Enda Walsh’s Arlington and Room 303 were staged there last month], but they could also develop local talent,” said Ollie.

“They have so many resources, they could give a bit to help a very thriving underground scene in Galway.”

He first made this argument more than a decade ago, when he headed up the short-lived Project 06 with the late Michael Diskin, then manager of Galway’s Town Hall Theatre.

“Project 06 happened  through people coming to Mike Diskin saying ‘how do we get stuff into the Festival?,” he recalled. “They couldn’t get a response from the Festival and Mike got involved and I got involved helping Mike.

“It showcased the quality and quantity of performers and the Festival has since picked and chosen from Project O6.

“The things we were saying then are still valid but if anything, the Festival has gone in the opposite direction.

“And unlike the massive Edinburgh Festival, having a Fringe running alongside the main event in Galway is not viable, because the audience base isn’t big enough,” he added.

Connacht Tribune

Man in his 70s killed in South Galway crash



A man in his 70s has died following a crash in South Galway on Tuesday afternoon.

Gardaí are currently at the scene of the two-car crash, which occurred at around 3.35pm on the N18 at Kiltartan.

The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, a man in his 70s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to University Hospital Galway where a post-mortem examination will be conducted at a later date.

The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved, a man in his 30s, was taken to University Hospital Galway for treatment of his injuries which are believed to be non-life threatening.

The road is currently closed and will be closed overnight awaiting an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators have been requested.

Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses or road users with dash cam footage to contact them. 

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Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra



Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’



Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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