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Galway is a place of magic in artist’s eyes

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Jennifer Cunningham, with her daughter Emily Acheson, at her exhibition 'After the Future' in the Festival Gallery, Market Street, for Galway International Arts Festival. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

By Judy Murphy

Lifestyle – Artist Jennifer Cunningham sees Galway in a different light to most and her rose-tinted, nostalgic look at the city, and its iconic buildings, forms one of the highlight exhibitions of the Galway International Arts Festival.

The Hangar, Seapoint, O’Brien’s Shop in Salthill, Heneghan’s Nurseries in Mervue, the Corrib Great Southern Hotel – iconic Galway buildings are central to the paintings of city artist Jennifer Cunningham. But while they’re instantly recognisable because Jennifer is a brilliant draughtswoman, the Galway she has created is also very different from the one we encounter every day.

Her rose-tinted buildings are either under construction or falling apart and some have images of fairground and circuses juxtaposed on the landscape, while young girls populate many of the works, evoking a different, otherworldly place.

After the Future, Jennifer Cunningham’s exhibition for this year’s Galway International Arts Festival is in the Festival Gallery, sited in the former printworks of the Connacht Tribune.

In addition to 20 paintings, she has also created a video installation and nine model pieces, depicting funfairs, and woodlands. These are playful and fun and show meticulous attention to detail.

In person, Jennifer is pretty precise, too. Warm and happy to explain her artistic process and the ideas behind her work, she can trace her love of art back to her childhood.

Home for Jennifer as a young child was in the now-demolished Rahoon Flats, before her family moved to Castle Park and then to Newcastle when she was a teenager. These days, she lives in Tuam with her husband, Tim Acheson, also an artist, and their three-year-old daughter, Emily, but Galway city and its deserted buildings continue to inspire her.

Her English-born grandmother had been awarded a place in art college but World War II put paid to herdream. Jennifer’s mother, Marie, inherited that talent, and graduated from GMIT with a Fine Arts Degree as a mature student. Jennifer’s maternal grandfather, meanwhile, was an engineer who was involved in designing Merlin Park Hospital in the 1950s, while her late father Pádraig was a highly skilled carpenter, who loved stories and music – stories are a vital element of her work.

Jennifer won her first art competition aged six and still has her prize of a teddy bear. After that, she entered the Galway Advertiser Christmas Art competition, winning a watercolour set which she still uses. A prize that has endured, she says with her warm smile.

And she sold her first painting – a Connemara landscape – for twenty pence when she was nine to a neighbour across the road.

So, it was no wonder Jennifer opted to study Fine Art at GMIT where she specialised in print-making and her tutors included the renowned UK artist Norman Ackroyd. His attention to detail and precision were incredible, she says, and he was a big influence.

She loved college and was there from 10am-10pm every day.

“For me, it was my Utopia. I knew I had found my tribe of wonderful eccentric people and I could be as eccentric as I wanted to be. A lot of them are still very good friends today.”

Jennifer graduated in 2002 with First Class honours and won several awards for her etchings, including the Taylor Art Award at the RDS. She used the money from that to set up a print studio in the garden shed of her family home.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.

BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY

Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number

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Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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