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Connacht Tribune

Galway author blessed with the write stuff!

Denise McNamara

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Galway writer Stephen O’Reilly (second left), winner of this year’s RTÉ Radio 1 Francis MacManus Short Story Competition, pictured with RTÉ Head of Radio Tom McGuire, Director General Dee Forbes and Arts and Media Correspondent Sinead Crowley.

A dark futuristic fairy tale about a woman and her electronic companions is the winner of a major short story contest by a former hardware salesman who only quit his job in Galway City to write 18 months ago.

Stephen O’Reilly won the RTÉ Radio 1 Francis MacManus Short Story Competition beating off 2,000 entries to take the gong.

His entry, Honey Days, is the story of a ménage-à-trois of a kind between Ava, Grace and James, only one of whom is human.

“It’s a little bit science fiction in that this woman who’s very isolated is living with two companions – I hesitate to call them robots – but they’re not quite human and they have an inability to understand just how lonely or isolated she is.”

“The idea has been bubbling away for a number of years. I suppose it took me a month to write it because I wanted to do it as well as I could but in a way nothing ever gets finished – I’m always having to revisit or tweak everything I write.”

Since his decision to write full-time in 2017, Stephen has been shortlisted for a previous Francis MacManus competition and the Seán O’Faoláin Short Story Award. He is also a recipient of a Molly Keane Memorial Award.

He is currently completing the first draft of a novel.

The native of Bundoran studied communications but left college early to emigrate to London where he worked in construction for 15 years. During a quiet spell, he took up writing and had a short story published in the UK – a year after he had submitted it.

“I always planned to write but you get so caught up with pay packets and chasing the money. We moved to Galway after my wife got a job here and I worked in B&Q for ten years but once I turned 50 I decided to have a second crack at it.”

He aims to write 800 words a day, spending between six and hours at a desk in the house the couple bought at Killeeneen outside Craughwell.

“I really work at it – I think that’s the nature of being older and being calmer and more considerate – maybe I wasn’t ready when I was young,” he reflects.

“I have lots of ideas – the beauty of having all this time to write is there is no shortage of ideas, it’s a matter of sitting down and writing them.”

Since his return to the art, short stories are his preferred medium.

“I love short stories – I think they are kind of undervalued. I feel short stories are leading me into longer pieces.

“I’m so happy the judges [Liz Nugent, Sinead Crowley and Declan Meade] saw something in this one.”

The ten shortlisted short stories will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 by some of Ireland’s leading stage actors.

Honey Days will read by Jane Brennan who starred in the movie Brooklyn and mini-series The Tudors.

Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council issues flood warning

Enda Cunningham

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Galway County Council is making sandbags available to people in various parts of the county due to the threat of flooding.

Already, rainfall has almost quadrupled on this time last year –with already saturated ground has led to an increased threat of flooding.

Met Éireann have reported a 180-300% increase in rainfall when compared with same period 2019.

A Council statement reads: “Soil moisture readings are indicating saturated ground conditions for much of the country.

“Met Éireann have advised that the current regime of periods of high intensity rainfall will possibly be a feature of our weather over the next 14 days.

“As the ground is already saturated, the cumulative rainfall forecasted will increase the threat of both fluvial and pluvial flooding events throughout the county.

“The OPW have indicated that the river network has responded to the recent rainfall since Storm Ciara, with 9% of all river gauges registering above median flood levels.  It is expected that all river catchments will see further rises due to the forecasted rainfall over the next 14 days, with both fluvial and pluvial events possible anywhere in the county.

“Spring tides are expected over the weekend, but no issues are expected.

“The Council is making sand bags available for collection by those whose properties are in vulnerable areas, please contact your local area office, during office hours (9am – 5pm).”

Athenry/Oranmore: 091 – 509088
Ballinasloe North & South: 091 – 509074
Conamara North (Clifden): 091 – 509095
Conamara South (An Cheathrú Rua): 091 – 509060
Loughrea: 091 – 509166
Gort: 091 – 509065
Portumna:  090 – 9741019
Tuam:  091 – 509011

The Council said the key message is for people to stay safe.

“Heavy rainfall currently being experienced is making driving conditions hazardous and drivers need to take extreme care and watch out cyclists and pedestrians and for the potential of flying debris, fallen trees and powerlines.

“Galway County Council Crisis Management Team are continuing to monitor these current weather conditions.”

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Connacht Tribune

Words in the one language can get lost in translation

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

You’d be fairly deluded to see the upside of stormy weather – but if any joy could be drawn from the recent Storm Ciara, it was in the efforts of our English friends to pronounce it.

Even a handful of staff at the BBC – an organisation with its own Pronunciation Unit – got it hopelessly wrong as often as it got it right. So instead of Keera, it was Key-ara, just one small step from Ki-Ora as though an orange squash had engulfed the land.

You’d wonder if that was the devilment at play when the storm was originally named, following a poll hosted by Met Éireann on Twitter – coming up with something that would at least give us a laugh in the midst of a blackout?

Adding fuel to that particular fire was that the Chair of the European Storm Naming Group is none other than Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann and a woman blessed with a wicked sense of humour.

That’s not to say that Evelyn doesn’t take her job extremely seriously, because she does – and the colour-coded weather warnings are indicative of that.

But she also has a good sense of perspective – so ensuring there’s a strong Irish dimension to this shared naming process between ourselves, the UK and the Netherlands would be right up her street.

In fairness to any devilment in Evelyn, there’s an even greater danger with these things if you leave it to the general public – as evidenced by names suggested by the public (and rejected by the UK Met Office) including Vader, Voldemort, Baldrick and Noddy.

Indeed, according to the London Times, among the other suggestions turned down was that one of the storms could be called Inateacup.

So instead, we get to name a few, the Brits get to name and good few and the Dutch throw in their tuppence worth as well.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

FF is stuck between a rock and a hard place

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Crunch time...FF leader Micheal Martin.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Anyone who has ever run a marathon knows that, somewhere around the 35km mark, you hit hell – and even when you finish it, the first reaction is ‘never again’…until a few months later they convince themselves it was not that bad, and sure, they might even go again.

And as it is with marathons in the sporting sense, so too in the political sphere – as we’re once again discovering.

Back in 2016, government formation took 70 days – and here we are with another marathon to a tortuous haul over the line.

And to be honest, we’re a long way from resolution.

Fianna Fáil says it will not go into government with Sinn Féin. Fine Gael says it will not go into government with either Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil. Sinn Féin is exploring a government with the left but the name of the game for the party is some kind of arrangement with Fianna Fáil.

That’s not what Fianna Fáil wants. It wants a grand coalition (even though the two formerly biggest parties are considerably less grand after the election) involving Fine Gael, plus the Greens or Social Democrats or both.

Fine Gael does not want any arrangement. It wants to lead the opposition. But if every other combination bites the dirt, it might be reluctantly willing to talk to Fianna Fáil in terms of some form of coalition arrangement.

Every single suggested arrangement involves a massive fundamental shock to all the parties – but particularly to Fianna Fáil.

The party was the biggest loser in the election. It was expected to make gains, but it ended up losing seven seats, plus some of its brightest TDs, including Lisa Chambers, Fiona O’Loughlin and Declan Breathnach.

Now it faces stark choices on all fronts.

It’s been nearly a decade out of power and needs to go back in – but it has been much weakened and if it goes into government it will not go in as the dominant partner.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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