A Galway-born singer/songwriter – caught up in a deadly drama Down Under that left six dead and dozens injured – joined a host of fellow buskers in the city of Melbourne for a marathon event that raised a fortune for the victims of the carnage.
Jamie Harrison from Oranmore – who has been travelling in New Zealand and Australia for the past few months – had become one of the regular coterie of buskers who ply their trade at the Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne.
But the pedestrianised centre city mall was catapulted into international headlines for other reasons last month, when a man drove his speeding car through the crowds, killing six people and causing serious injury to over other thirty shoppers.
One of Jamie’s fellow buskers, George Kamikawa, was among those who had just finished playing when the car careered into the shoppers.
And that was one of the reasons why, two weeks after the bloodbath, dozens of musicians took part in a twelve hour Busking Marathon, which raised over $28,000 Australian dollars for the families of the victims.
Jamie, who enjoyed chart success here last year with his self-penned ‘If I Only Knew Your Name’, has taken time out to travel the world – but even on this busman’s holiday, he is still drawing the crowds.
“He just wanted to see a bit of the world but this is a mecca for buskers and Jamie is thoroughly enjoying it,” explained his mentor back home, Saw Doctors manager Ollie Jennings.
“He particularly loved this location and was only too delighted to play his part in helping those who lost their lives in such an appalling way,” he added.
The 26 year old Galway singer was a familiar face on Galway’s busking scene during his college years, using it to build up his profile and following from his Shop Street pitch.
Jamie, who also won an All-Ireland minor hurling medal with Galway in 2009, shot a video for his hit single in Hollywood, working with a team that included cinematographer Alexander Nikishin, who also worked on music videos for Mary J Blige and Fall out Boy.
But more recently he has taken time out to travel – which is how he found himself in Melbourne, and Bourke Street Mall.
The buskers wanted to both help raise funds for the victims – but also to bring the music back to a place they all see as a second home.
Melbourne charity Enruoblem also put together a double CD featuring Melbourne buskers which was available on the day.
All proceeds from CD sales were donated to the Bourke Street fund, said Enruoblem founder Chris Cincotta.
“We asked ourselves what we could do with our little Bourke Street community to try and help the victims of the families and it seemed pretty obvious in the end,” he told the Age newspaper in Melbourne.
“No one’s getting paid. No one is taking any kind of cut. Every cent donated will be going towards the family victims’ fund,” he said.
“For me, Bourke Street means music, it means busking, and to hear it fall silent was a definite sign that something wasn’t right,” he said.
Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’
Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.
The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.
Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.
An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.
Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.
“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.
“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.
“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.
“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.
“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”
(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!
Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.
Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.
“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.
The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.
Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea
Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.
County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.
In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.
“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.
He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.
Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.