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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

Public meeting on sludge hub plan for Tuam

Declan Tierney

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The water treatment plant in Tuam

A public meeting to discuss the intake of thousands of tonnes of sludge from various parts of the country to Tuam is to take place next week.

And it has been stated that the proposal would result in around 80 lorry loads of sludge coming in and out of the town on a weekly basis.

The meeting on Monday in the Corralea Court Hotel at 8pm will voice resistance to the proposal – the public have until October 22 to make submissions on the proposal. Local Cllr Donagh Killilea said that the existing wastewater treatment plant in Tuam can only cater for the town itself and believed that this plan could pose a threat to the River Clare.

Irish Water have confirmed that both Tuam and Sligo are being looked at as being ‘sludge hub centres’ which would mean that waste from a variety of plants would be brought to the North Galway town on a daily basis.

It is being resisted locally on the grounds that the existing wastewater treatment plant is at full capacity and that any additional waste would prevent further development in the town.

According to Irish Water they have selected Tuam as a potential location for the effective treatment of wastewater sludge – they are inviting the public’s opinion on this issue. Irish Water say that sludge hub centres form part of Irish Water’s National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan to ensure the safe and sustainable management of sludge.

“A sludge hub centres is a centralised treatment facility for the effective treatment of wastewater sludge prior to reuse or disposal.

“The site selection report identifies Tuam and Sligo Wastewater Treatment Plants as potential sludge hub centres in the North-West region,” they have stated.

But Killilea said that if this is allowed come to Tuam, it will further damage the image of the town at I time when efforts are being made to rebuild its reputation.

“Tuam must say no to this disgusting development. Why should we take waste sludge from landfills, gas works, chemical industry and other hazardous plants, and have farmers spread it on their fields and go through our drinking facility,” Cllr Killilea added.

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Connacht Tribune

Publican prosecuted for allowing smoking

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A lit cigarette on a ledge inside a Loughrea bar during a HSE inspection led to the publican being prosecuted and fined for allowing smoking in a specified place on the premises.

Michael Dempsey of Aggie Madden’s Bar, Main Street, Loughrea, and his bar tender, Carmel Guinen, both pleaded not guilty to Section 47 of the Tobacco Act on December 9 last year.

Peter Gaffey, Environmental Health Officer with the HSE, told the Court there was a strong smell of cigarette smoke as he went through the front door of the bar and that he spotted a lit cigarette on a ledge between the pool table area and a stairs leading down to toilets and a rear exit entrance.

Downstairs, there was construction going on and he also noticed a cigarette butt on the floor of the men’s toilet, which also smelled of smoke.

He inspected the premises again on Monday evening, September 30 as part of the protocol before a Court hearing and again he got a strong smell of smoke around the premises.

He said he didn’t document whether there were ‘no smoking’ signage around the premises but equally didn’t document if there had been an absence of the signs on his first visit. However, he did notice signage on his last visit last week.

Another Environmental Health Officer, Chloe Harper, who accompanied Mr Gaffey on his December visit, said she too got a strong tobacco smell on entering the premises.

She said, after the lit cigarette was found, Ms Guinin had asked the four young men playing pool who had been smoking but they didn’t answer left the bar.

Michael Dempsey told the Court that he had run the bar with his wife for the past six years and employed three other people.

He said that he always made sure nobody smoked on his premises and told the Court that he had spent money on providing a steel canopy over the rear exit door seven months ago at a cost of €1,400 where his patrons could smoke.

He further explained that the cause of the tobacco smell on the premises was due to people leaving the front door open while they smoked outside on the street.

But he said that there was some confusion over E-cigarettes and whether it was legal to smoke them on a licensed premises or not.

“I have made every effort I can to provide a smoking area. There would be absolute war if I found anyone smoking on the premises. . .  but I don’t know if the E-cigarettes are legal or not. Some customers tell me it’s legal. I have a zero tolerance to smoking as I don’t smoke myself,” he said.

Carmel Guinen told the Court she was working on her own the night of the HSE inspection and that one of the young fellows playing pool had lit up and she had asked them to cut it out.

She had accompanied the inspectors during their visit and answered their questions.

Judge James Faughnan said he was satisfied that the HSE had made their case and convicted both Dempsey and Guinen. He said there was lots more Dempsey could do to make sure his customers didn’t smoke on the premises.

Pat Carty, defending, said Mr Dempsey was not running a thriving business and to take that into account by giving him more time to pay a fine.

Dempsey, who has a previous conviction for allowing smoking on the premises, was fined €1,000 plus €1,750 costs and has been restricted from selling tobacco for one week starting on November 1.

Guinen was fined €200. Recognisances were fixed for both and he gave them four months to pay.

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam Stadium unveils its new look

Declan Tierney

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THE OLD AND THE NEW . . . Some of the new seating that has been provided at Tuam Stadium as part of the extensive redevelopment project.

Spectators at last weekend’s county senior football semi-final at Tuam Stadium got a first glimpse of the revamped seated area that will become part of the long-awaited extended stand at the GAA venue.

That’s after planning permission was granted for the complete revamp of the stand which will involve the removal of the old ‘shed-like’ roof and the provision of new seating.

That ensures that, when completed, Tuam Stadium will have a covered stand with almost 4,000 seats, so that the venue will be able to host some of the top national football league and championship games.

Former Football Board Chairman John Joe Holleran said that works were progressing satisfactorily on the redevelopment of Tuam Stadium.

He also revealed that works would take place on the terraced areas which would provide the venue with a capacity of around 18,000 which would be sufficient to accommodate any provincial decider – although these matches are required to be played in designated county grounds…and Tuam is not.

But Mr Holleran, who is one of the driving forces behind the Development Advocates for Tuam Stadium (DAFTS) confirmed that more than €350,000 had been raised for the redevelopment of the venue and this has been boosted by a €110,000 plus sports capital grant.

However, he stressed that further funding needed to be raised in order to complete the project and that it why it was difficult for him to provide the Connacht Tribune with a timeframe for works to be completed.

Tuam Stadium was the first venue in Connacht to have a covered stand and the existing bench-type seating date back to the 1960s. They are in urgent need of replacing.

Works at the venue so far have included the provision of four new dressing rooms and the completion of a terraced area which will be equipped with around 1,800 seats that will eventually be covered in.

It was interesting to see the attendance at both the county senior semi-final between Corofin and Salthill-Knocknacarra – and the earlier county junior final between Glenamaddy and Salthill-Knocknacarra – make the most of the works that have already taken place.

Some of the maroon seats have already been provided and the white seats will be installed during this week and into next week, weather permitting.

Planning permission has been granted for the provision of a new roof for the existing stand but this will be extended over to new terraced area where the maroon and white seating have been provided.

Recently, local company Tommy Varden Limited provided €50,000 towards the provision of the provision of the new seating at the venue and that was an additional significant boost to the development.

Indeed, the late Tommy Varden, who was a staunch supporter of Galway football and an advocate of the development of Tuam Stadium, will have his immense contribution recognised at the ground.

John Joe Holleran said that the legacy that he left was immense and had to be recognised. “He was the fabric of Galway football during his whole life,” he added.

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