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Connacht Tribune

Galway city ex-buskers Rofi James have winning formula




Rofi James.

Groove Tube with Jimi McDonnell – The young and ambitious Rofi James will play Monroe’s Live on Saturday, May 31. The pop/rock band from Galway City began when lead singer and guitarist Rónán Ó Flaithearta started busking with his friend, drummer Jamie Murray. Jamie started out with a snare drum but then moved on to the more dynamic sound of the Spanish cajon box-drum.

Did they find that busking helped them to sharpen their live sound?

“I think it definitely has,” says Jamie. “One of the things people noticed about us was our stripped back sound between the box and the guitar. I think busking really developed that.”

Busking in Galway is a sure fire way to meet the town’s characters – a less likely scenario is getting caught up in a presidential election.

“We were busking one day and David Norris came up,” Rónán says. “His whole team surrounded us for a few minutes with TV cameras.  I played one of our own tracks, Going Down.  He really liked the song and gave us €5 or €10.  He started asking us about the song after.”

Rofi James started out as two-piece but they recently became a quartet with the addition of guitarist Levi O’Brien and Eoin Ó Conghaile on bass.

“I met Rónán years ago at a bus stop,” says Levi, who joined the band two months ago. “I had this new guitar pedal; he saw it and said ‘oh, that’s lovely’. We said we’d go jamming anyway, that was years ago. Then I met him again recently in bar and he said ‘oh, you can play guitar, come jam with us’.”

The gig in Monroe’s will celebrate the release of Rofi James’ latest single, Heuston, which will be available on iTunes and Spotify.

“It was song I wrote four or years ago after going up to Heustion Station to meet a girl I thought it was going pretty well with,” says Rónán.

“I was supposed to get off in Newbridge but I slept through my stop and woke up in Heuston Station. I got a call – she was fairly annoyed at me! She said ‘don’t bother coming to Newbridge, we’re finished’. That’s where the lyric ‘Heuston, Heuston we have a problem came from.’”

Has the ex-girlfriend in question heard the song?

“I never played it for her because I thought it would be too embarrassing,” says Rónán.

“Wait ‘til we’re number one!” quips Eoin.

Rofi James won the NUIG Witless Battle of the Bands competition in 2013, an impressive feat, considering Rónán had only previously played in cover bands.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Compliant Galwegians are keeping their distance

Francis Farragher



Checkpoint...Garda warning for those who stray too far from home.

BOY racers, cyclists, gym users and young people attending house parties are among those in Galway who have been issued with Fixed Payment Notices (FPNs) for breaching the Covid-19 travel regulations over the past week.

However, Gardaí in Galway have reported ‘a very high-level of compliance’ from the general public as regards the travel restrictions that are a central part of the Level-5 ‘Stay Home – Stay Safe’ Covid campaign.

Over the weekend, Gardaí issued FPNs to so-called ‘boy racers’ in two separate cases on the Tuam Road outside Galway city and in the Craughwell area.

FPNs – involving a €100 on-the-spot fine – were also issued last week to a number of young people attending house parties in the Galway city area, after Gardaí had been called to the scene.

Two cyclists stopped in the Cornamona area of North Connemara last week, who were 19 kilometres from their homes – and outside their own county boundary – also faced Garda censure.

The cyclists weren’t from the same household; they weren’t wearing masks; and also, were in breach of social distancing regulations.

Gardaí also came across a case of a gym in South Galway being used by a number of people last week – also a breach of the Covid-19, Level-5 restrictions.

While Gardaí also received a number of calls about possible ‘pub-opening’ violations, on investigation, they found no sign of activity on the premises they checked out.

Galway Chief Garda Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Connacht Tribune that overall, there was ‘a very high level of compliance’ as regards the travel restrictions which was ‘very encouraging’.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Lessons learned on home-schooling

Denise McNamara



Cathal Moore, principal of the Presentation Athenry.

Home-schooling is working better this time round with many teachers conducting live classes and more students actively engaging than when schools closed suddenly last March.

But virtual education is a poor substitute for the experience of the classroom with students sorely missing social interaction, according to teachers, while parents are still struggling to balance working from home with ensuring their children keep up with the school work.

The sooner that schools can reopen safely the better for everyone – although most agree that it’s looking more likely to be after mid-term than at the beginning of February.

“Everybody is in a better place this time round – schools, teachers, parents and students. Everybody expected to be back at school. It’s no secret last time we got two hours’ notice but this time round we’re better prepared,” remarks the principal of the Presentation Athenry, Cathal Moore.

The mixed secondary school is doing a mix of live and recorded classes as not every student has good broadband.

After the first week, there was feedback from students that they felt there was too much homework in addition to the virtual classes while teachers reported that they would prefer more live communication from their charges.

“It is more tiring – fatigue is definitely a factor when on a screen all day and if this goes on for a prolonged amount of time it will creep in for a growing number of students.”

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Hard-pressed hospitals down 450 staff over Covid

Dara Bradley



More than 450 staff – including nurses at UHG and Portiuncula – are now out of work due to Covid, as staff shortages threaten the public hospitals’ ability to cope with the crisis.

The upsurge has seen UHG deal with a record number of Covid-19 patients, and the hospital had to escalate its surge capacity plan and add extra beds in ICU.

The latest CSO figures reveal that the first week of the New Year was Galway’s deadliest yet on the pandemic front, with five lives lost over those opening seven days of 2021.

That brought the total number of virus fatalities in Galway to 25, and it’s understood there have been further deaths locally since then, which will be confirmed later.

From March to the end of November there were 20 deaths notified in Galway, and no further deaths were recorded in all of December.

News of Galway’s deadliest week comes as local leaders in the HSE, Garda, and local government joined forces to warn that Covid-19 was still spreading rapidly in the community.

Nationally, between January 5 and 18, there were 263 Covid-19 deaths recorded, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC), which does not give a geographical breakdown. Of these deaths, 119 were hospitalised and 14 had been admitted to ICU.

The median age of all of Galway’s Covid fatalities is 83; the median age of the confirmed cases in Galway is 31 – the lowest of 26 counties.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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