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Connacht Tribune

Galway musician comes up with wooden variation on the drum

Dara Bradley



Lorcan Mitchell has combined a love of music and carpentry to develop the Mitchell Drum, a novel handmade percussion instrument made from wood.

The 31-year-old carpenter was always immersed in music growing up in the family home at Aughrim – his parents, Betty and Gerry, drummed the importance of music into him and his siblings, Gearoid, Sinead, Fiona and Áine, from an early age.

The Mitchell drum

The Mitchell drum

And it was during his school days at Garbally College in Ballinasloe where he developed a grá for carpentry. In his Leaving Cert year, Lorcan made an electric guitar for his woodwork project.

Fast-forward 13 years later, he has established his own business based at his father’s garage, where he produces for sale the Mitchel Drum, a portable drum, which he designed.

The idea came to him while volunteering abroad.

Lorcan studied carpentry at FÁS, and completed his apprenticeship, before travelling the World in 2011. He was in New Zealand for a time, then spent a year in Australia, and onto the Philippines before returning home to County Galway.

When the devastating typhoon hit Philippines in 2013, he decided to return to the Southeast Asian country, and volunteer his carpentry skills to rebuild houses.

While volunteering at a village about two hours outside of the main city of Tacloban, Lorcan used to play guitar for local children, who were fascinated by the sounds he produced.

The music gave them so much pleasure, he decided to use some of his fundraising money to purchase fifteen guitars, and he built ten drums.

“That’s when I realised what I wanted to do, so I came home and took over my dad’s garage and started making the Mitchel Drum,” he recalls.

It took about three years to perfect but the result is a simple, elegant, innovative musical instrument.

It’s a bit like the keytar, a portable keyboard or ‘piano guitar’, the Mitchel Drum is roughly the size of a laptop computer and weighs about as much as a regular bag of flour.

It is obviously constricted in the range of sounds it can produce compared to a regular drum set, but it’s unique selling point is its lightweight and portability.

“You can just put it in the bag, throw it over your shoulder and away you go. It’s lightweight and compact and it allows for unlimited freedom and portability. Using the waist strap you have the freedom to move and dance. It has been designed to create crisp, clear tones and a high quality drum effect free from rattles and echoes,” he says.

They’re made from Baltic birch and walnut, both imported woods, because, “they produce the best sound” but he hasn’t ruled out sourcing timber locally, and even growing his own.

It has an inbuilt microphone, pickup and preamp, which allows it to be used in live settings, in studios and to DJ sets. The drum is made for musicians but Lorcan has been working with organisations who deal with adults with intellectual and learning disabilities and it is an area ripe for expansion.

It is easy to use and is suitable for learners as well as professionals, he says.

The drums retail at €245, which includes handmade bag made from recycled coffee bean bags.

■ For more information visit the Mitchell Drum website

Connacht Tribune

Covid lockdown returns for Kildare, Laois and Offaly

Enda Cunningham



The Government has announced localised lockdowns for people living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, following a surge in Covid-19 cases over the past week.

People from outside of those counties have been asked not to travel their unless for work or essential travel.

The restrictions affect travel, pubs, restaurants, swimming pools and cinemas.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the clusters of new cases were of serious concern and described the restrictions as “limited”.

“Over the past 14 days 292 cases of Covid-19 have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. These represent almost half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time.

“These measures are being put in place to protect the vulnerable in these counties as well as to stop the spread of the virus.

They are in place for two weeks from midnight tonight (Friday) until midnight on Friday, August 20. The situation will then be reviewed,” the Taoiseach said.

Travel and transport

You can only travel within your county, other than for the following reasons:

  • to travel to and from work where that work cannot be done from home
  • to attend medical appointments, collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, like providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits
  • for farming purposes, food production or care of animals

You should not travel into any of these counties, other than for the reasons above, and you need to travel through these counties to get somewhere else. You should not stop in Kildare, Laois or Offaly unless for essential purposes.

Public and private transport

You should not use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and where possible you should not share private vehicles with others from outside your household.

Education and childcare

The following services remain open with appropriate protective measures in place:

  • education and childcare
  • outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks
  • Economic activity and work
  • Anyone in these counties who can work from home should work from home.


Cafes and restaurants

  • All cafes and restaurants, including bars operating as restaurants, should only offer takeaway or delivery, or outdoor dining (maximum 15 people with strict physical distancing).
  • Hotels can remain open but must limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons. Existing guests can remain for the duration of their booking.

Indoor gatherings

  • All indoor gatherings should be restricted to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 3 households in total, while maintaining physical distancing.

Outdoor gatherings

  • Outdoor gatherings should be limited to a maximum of 15 people, while maintaining physical distancing.

Cultural and religious

  • All cinemas, theatres, casinos, betting shops, bingo halls, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, exercise and dance studios are required to close.
  • Attendance at a funeral service and burial or cremation ceremony should be limited to 25 outdoors. Indoor events connected to the funeral are limited to a maximum of 6 people.
  • Places of worship remain open for private prayer, while services are to be held online.


No sporting events or matches should take place, with the following exemptions:

  • non-contact training outdoors in a maximum group of 15 people may continue
  • professional and elite sports and horse-racing may continue behind closed doors
  • inter-county training (max 15 people) and fixtures may continue behind closed doors

Residential and healthcare facilities

*Visiting in long-term residential care facilities, acute settings and prisons will generally be suspended in the first instance with the exception of the most critical and compassionate circumstances (for example end of life).

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Connacht Tribune

Relocation homebuyers head to the west

Dara Bradley



Clifden....popular destination.

The Coronavirus pandemic has encouraged a new exodus of homebuyers to relocate to the west, with remote working now a viable option for many employees.

Galway’s busiest auctioneer has noticed increased interest in properties in the city and county from workers relocating from Dublin, its commuter belt and the Midlands.

The availability of high-speed broadband, which can facilitate working from home, is a determining factor in many homebuyers’ decisions to move to the West.

But the high cost of renting remains the single biggest incentive for people to get on the property ladder, according to Niall Browne, senior sales negotiator at O’Donnellan and Joyce Auctioneers.

“People are paying such high rent that it’s the equivalent to a mortgage repayment and that’s when you buy. That’s the biggest incentive to buy – you’re not giving away dead money,” Mr Browne said.

The property market locally had quietened in the initial months of the Covid-19 lockdown – but it has been buoyant in the past two months in particular, he said.

Mr Browne suggested there was an element of pent-up demand for housing that was now being realised as the Covid lockdown restrictions focused people’s minds on their desire to purchase a home.

“We typically try to get eight to ten sales per month by private treaty, and we had 28 or 29 last month. The previous month was six and the previous month was eight. This month (July) we’re up to 26, and that’s outside of our auction,” he said.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Nursing Homes shun student nurses over Covid fears

Stephen Corrigan



Student nurses in Galway are facing financial doom as part-time employers shun those currently on work placement in hospitals over fears they are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19.

First year nursing student at NUI Galway Ciarán Mac an tSaoir told the Connacht Tribune that this had become a particular issue for first and second year students who would traditionally take on healthcare assistant roles in nursing homes, where the fear of spreading the virus is at fever pitch.

“After semester one in first year, you are essentially qualified as a healthcare assistant and a lot of students would take that up as an option. Since Covid-19 came in, a lot of work places are fearful of cross-contamination and that’s not unjustified.

“It’s very understandable that a nursing home wouldn’t want a student who might be going between five or six clinical areas in an acute hospital to be then coming into work in the nursing home,” said Mr Mac an tSaoir.

Nursing students, for whom a large proportion of their university experience is spent on unpaid work placement, spend up to 35-hours a week in a clinical setting and so that could mean them travelling between a Covid-19-free setting of a nursing home to a respiratory word in a hospital such as UHG, he explained.

However, this wasn’t a HSE policy but rather the decision of individual care facilities who were doing their best to ensure coronavirus was kept out.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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