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.
Eyrecourt tune makes it to Hollywood in Jig time
A tune composed to celebrate the twinning of Eyrecourt in south-east Galway with Gouesnach in France is to feature in a new film.
Written by Niall Crehan, ‘The Eyrecourt Jig’ made quite a splash when it was released in 2013 and is still popular in music sessions up and down the country.
Niall had been commissioned to write the tune for the 20th anniversary of the twinning of the two villages, Eyrecourt and Gouesnach.
So, when he had a small part as a fiddler in a TV film called Royal Rendevouz, he started playing the jig.
The producers were so impressed, they added it to the movie soundtrack and it will appear in the credits.
Niall is a member of a celebrated traditional Irish musical dynasty hailing originally from County Clare.
He is the youngest son of whistle and concertina player Vincent Crehan and nephew of renowned fiddler Junior Crehan.
Niall and his brother Kieran ran the Dublin shop Crehan Musical instruments until his early retirement.
Now living in Kildare, Niall is a cousin of publican Mick Crehan, who runs the renowned folk pub in the west end of Galway, The Crane.
Niall and the large army of musicians in the extended family are regular guests.
His brother Dermot got music playing parts on films such as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and he managed to get Niall onto the likes of Downton Abbey.
This latest TV project is the latest foray into the world of film, explains his son Brian.
The story centres on an American chef who is invited to an Irish manor to cook a feast in order to convince the matriarch not to sell the home.
It premieres on Sunday, February 26 at 9pm on the E! Network starring Isabella Gomez, Ruairi O’Connor and Ronan Raftery.
‘No show’ TDs criticised at County Galway policing committee meeting
A county councillor has launched a stinging criticism of Oireachtas members for their repeated failure to attend County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meetings.
At a meeting of the JPC on Monday, Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher (photographed) said he believed it was time the three TDs on the committee decided if they wanted to remain, or give their place up to someone who would make use of it.
“I am asking the Council to write out to our Oireachtas members and ask them do they want to be on this JPC or not, and if not, let someone else be on it,” blasted the Fine Gael councillor.
This followed repeated non-appearances from TDs representing the Oireachtas on the committee – the three representatives are Deputy Noel Grealish (Ind), Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) and Deputy Catherine Connolly (Ind).
Cllr Maher said the JPC, which sits around five times per year, was deliberately held on a Mondays to facilitate Oireachtas members who were in the Dáil later in the week. He said there were issues being raised regularly that required raising at a national level and it was incumbent on national representatives to bring those matters back to Dublin.
One such issue was the use of CCTV in the pursuit of illegal dumpers and travelling crime gangs, said Cllr Maher who is Cathaoirleach of the County Council.
“I would like our members of the Oireachtas to be taking the message back on CCTV,” he added, as representatives locally were getting no further as a result of data protection laws.
None of the three Oireachtas members were present for this week’s meeting. Chair of the JPC, Cllr Jim Cuddy, confirmed he had received an apology from Deputy Catherine Connolly.
New Chief Executive for Galway County Council
The new Chief Executive of Galway County Council is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
Liam Conneally, who is Director of Services for Economic Development at Clare County Council, is understood to be the preferred candidate following an interview process and has been offered the post.
His appointment will have to be ratified by councillors at an upcoming meeting of Galway County Council.
He will replace Jim Cullen, who was Acting CE for a number of years.
The last permanent CE of the local authority was also a Clare native, Martina Moloney who retired in 2014.
Since then, Kevin Kelly initially and then Jim Cullen have been acting in the roles.
According to his LinkedIn page, Liam Conneally was a senior planner at Limerick City and County Councils for almost three years before taking up the Director of Services role in Clare in 2016.
He was educated at University of Limerick and Queen’s University Belfast.
A native of Ennistymon, he is steeped in the GAA.
“He’s done a very good job in Clare; he’s very dynamic and forward-looking, he will be a good choice for Galway County Council,” said a source familiar with Mr Conneally, and the interview process.
Government completed a review in 2021 about whether it was going to appoint someone permanently into the CE role, which was filled on a temporary/acting basis for almost nine years.
It’s understood that officials in Dublin had delayed filling the role as they wanted to push for an amalgamation of both Councils.
The amalgamation, however, was rejected by local politicians, and has since been put on the back burner.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, is due to retire this year. It’s understood his deputy CE, Patricia Philbin will take the role in an acting capacity until an interview process is completed.