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Connacht Tribune

Galway singer set for more chart success after debut goes viral




A Galway singer/songwriter whose debut single went viral with over 200,000 streams is building on that success with a second offering that has already been earmarked as one to watch – alongside the latest releases from global superstars like Kendrick Lamar, Bon Iver and Gorillaz.

Electro-pop artist Laoise Nolan – who hails from the heart of Galway city centre – began her journey with the release of her melodic debut single ‘You’ on the Spotify in November 2016 – and by January the song had gone to number four on the UK viral chart. By April it had topped 200,000 streams.

The artist herself could hardly believe the achievement of the single with such humble beginnings.

“I was really surprised because Spotify is so hard to crack. We recorded the song with a microphone and a laptop so it was really cool that this song we that we worked on in a tiny little room was heard by so many people!”

‘You’ wasn’t a one-off either; the release of her follow-up single ‘Halfway’ was met with more positive acclaim with BuzzFeed naming the track in their ‘23 Songs you need in your April playlist’ alongside that host of major superstars.

Her EP of the same name – ‘Halfway’ – was released on June 15 to a similar reception, with one online publication writing: ‘It’s hard to see a future where Laoise doesn’t break into the Irish mainstream’.

Away from the studio, Laoise has been touring the Ireland and the UK and she says that one of her more recent live performances has been her most memorable.

“Well they are all different but it would probably have to be Forbidden fruit because first, it was raining so a lot of people came into the tent and they were such a great crowd. They knew all the words which was really an incredible experience for me,” she said.

Laoise recently ditched her guitar during her live performances in favour of a microphone to give her hands a bit of freedom.

Watching her music videos, you get the feeling that her hands are important as she constantly moves them – she refers to it as “spasming”. Her reasoning for this is that her music is very visual. The gestures and music complement each other.

In the modern music industry, being a good singer is not enough. There is something unique that separates the singer from the artist.

The visual aspect is a crucial aspect of Laoise’s work. The album artwork for her E.P is a burst of her favourite colour: pink – as is most of her social media presence. But the cute and light pink from her album artwork betrays her music with its heavy emotional themes and musical tones.

“Yeah, that’s definitely on purpose. It’s really like a paradox! I love the colour pink but when I make music I need to write about my own personal experiences and find what resonates with me,” she admits.

Born into a musical family, Laoise started off playing traditional Irish music sessions on the fiddle with her father Brian in the local Galway pubs like Tí Cóilí and even venturing out as far as Inishbofin, where she first began singing.

Over time, Laoise realised she needed a new sound, away from her traditional Irish roots, to find her own voice.

With electro-pop, she found a sound that was accessible but also never sounded stale. With electro-pop, Laoise found that she could make the diverse music that fit her personality and never feel she was hearing the same song twice.

Laoise is a solo artist but she hasn’t been alone on her journey. When asked for her biggest inspiration, Laoise says she can’t choose.

“Well in terms of musical inspiration, I would always say Stevie Nicks because I have always just loved her and Fleetwood Mac,” she says.

“Closer to home, I’ve been very lucky because I’ve had some wonderful people surrounding me, in my family to people in college. It’s so nice to be around like-minded people who are happy to collaborate with you, I think that’s really important,” she adds.

Away from her own music, Laoise listens to a bit of everything, even away from her own genre but she does have a few mainstays on her Spotify playlists.

“I love soul music and I would always listen to the Soultronic playlist on Spotify. Oh and eighties obviously; I love the sound from almost anything of the eighties!”

Laoise has come a long way from her days of playing the fiddle – and you get the sense there is something special about this particular Galway girl.

Connacht Tribune

Anger within GAA community over rejection of €5m plan

Stephen Glennon



Rejected: the site for the proposed pitches and sports complex at Rinville West. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

There is widespread anger within the GAA communities of Oranmore and Maree this week after planning permission received for the €5 million Renville Sports Project – which includes four playing pitches and a public playground, among other facilities on their 34-acre site – was rescinded by An Bord Pleanála.

The Planning Appeals Board reversed Galway County Council’s decision to greenlight the project ‘in the absence of any specific measures confirmed’ in relation to the junction on the Maree Road leading to the proposed development at Rinville West.

An Bord Pleanála maintains that if the proposed development was to go ahead, this junction ‘would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard, due to the additional traffic turning movement which the proposed development would generate’.

It’s understood An Bord Pleanála had sought clarification in relation to this from Galway County Council and that ‘in the absence of any specific measures confirmed as part of the proposed development to address these deficiencies within the existing junction’, it was refusing permission.

Given the scope of the proposed multi-million euro centre of excellence, those associated with the Renville Sports and Community Grounds project are furious that Galway County Council did not address this issue in the initial planning stage – particularly as they originally gave the project the go-ahead.

“The land where they could widen that (junction) entrance to take the right turn, they actually own all that land down the right hand side,” fumed Oranmore/Maree Club Chairman Gerry Rabbitt this week.

“You could put a roundabout in there! They have dropped the ball on this one and they have made a mess of it. We have spent nearly €90,000 on planning and this is just unbelievable.”

The proposed development was to provide three sand-based grass playing pitches along with an all-weather synthetic playing pitch, three warm-up and training areas, floodlighting and a covered terrace for one of the playing pitches, a hurling wall, a looped amenity walkway, 248 carpark and eight coach spaces and a public playground.

Galway County Council granted planning permission last July to Renville Sports Project Committee on behalf of Oranmore Maree GAA Club, subject to 15 conditions.

However, local residents appealed the proposed development under a number of headings.

One of those concerns raised focused on the existing road infrastructure, which residents maintained was unsuitable to take the traffic a development of this magnitude would generate.

It was on this point – restricted sightlines and an inappropriate speed limit at that location – that An Bord Pleanála upheld the residents’ objection.

The decision is a big blow to the Renville project, which operates under the slogan ‘Supporting Renville, Our Clubs, Our Community, Our Future’, and the committee is currently considering its next step.

While a Judicial Review can be sought in the High Court within eight weeks of the planning authority’s decision, the Renville Project Management Committee can only question the validity of An Bord Pleanála’s decision and cite, on this ground only, why the decision is ‘invalid or ought to be quashed’.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Management Committee considered the issues raised as ‘addressable’ and said they will be ‘doing everything possible to overcome this setback to the project’.

Mr Rabbitt said all concerned remained deeply committed “to bringing this vital project to fruition”.

Whether the Renville Project Management Committee explore the option of a Judicial Review or not, it looks as if the project may have to go through another extensive planning process once more.

“It’s terrible,” stated Mr Rabbitt. “That could be two years down the road. We have €600,000 (raised through fundraisers and donations) already and this is just a massive disappointment for us all.

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Connacht Tribune

Ballinasloe Horse Fair officially cancelled for this year

Declan Tierney



One of the oldest horse fairs in the country has been officially cancelled this year on health and safety grounds – with the organising committee planning to meet at the end of the year to make plans for 2021.

The Ballinasloe Fair and Festival Committee decided to cancel this year’s event – traditionally held in October – because of the continuing uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak.

The October Fair attracts around 80,000 visitors for the week-long festival – including a major influx from England – providing a huge economic boost for the town, and the pubs and restaurants in particular.

The co-ordinating committee said that the decision to cancel the Fair was taken with regret but that the public’s safety was paramount – because the crowds that throng the Fairgreen would be very difficult to implement social distancing

“The Committee made the decision in the interests of public health and safety and has agreed to meet in December 2020 to prepare for the return of the Ballinasloe Fair and Festival in 2021 and make advanced plans to celebrate the 300th anniversary in 2022,” said the committee in a statement.

“The Co-ordinating Committee would like to thank the local community, sponsors, and all associations involved for their ongoing commitment and support.

“We look forward to welcoming all participants and visitors to Ballinasloe Fair and Festival in 2021,” they added.

The recent meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council saw some elected members urge a ‘wait and see’ approach, given that the event takes place in October and that the Covid situation could change considerably in the meantime.

But that suggestion divided members of Ballinasloe Municipal Council with the majority believing that the public’s safety should be the primary consideration and that the event should be scrapped for this year.

The meeting was also told that the HSE’s advice was that the Horse Fair should not go ahead but that all ‘stakeholders’ would be contacted in advance of any decision being taken.

The annual Ballinasloe Horse Fair dates back to the 18th century and there were pleas from some councillors that it be retained on restricted basis but this suggestion was largely rejected by other elected members.

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Connacht Tribune

Atlantic Masters swimmers fund radios for lifeboat crews




Members of the Atlantic Masters Club presenting VHF radios to the Galway Lifeboat Station (front – from left) Mike Cummins, Mark Dwyer, Sean Óg Leydon; (middle) Paul Carey, Shane Folan, Barry Heskin, George Curley, Mike Swan, and (back) Helen Colfer, Annette Cullen and Bridget Wing.

A group of Galway swimmers – forced to cancel their annual fundraiser for the lifeboats – decided instead to pool their club subs to buy new radios for the service.

And within 24 hours of taking delivery of the four new VHF radios, Galway Lifeboat members used them on three separate call-outs – to save lives on the water.

The Atlantic Masters’ Lifeboat Swim took place for the first time last year, raising over €7,500 in funds for local sea-based organisations.

But Covid-19 restrictions forced the club to postpone the 2020 Atlantic Lifeboat Swim on June 12 – and at the same time club members’ training sessions were unfortunately cancelled as well.

But when offered refunds, members decided to pool their refunds and purchase four VHF Radios for the RNLI – in the hope that this would go some way to fill the gap in funding due to the cancellation of the Atlantic Lifeboat Swim.

Galway Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Swan expressed his thanks on behalf of the Galway Lifeboat and RNLI.

“Atlantic Masters club members are as passionate about water safety as they are about swimming and that can be seen by this generous donation of VHF radios,” he said.

“Within 24 hours of receiving the radios they were in use on three separate shouts, enabling crew members to respond faster and with greater efficiency. They truly will save lives,” he added

Last year’s event saw over 120 swimmers take on the 2km swim in Renville.

And as restrictions are being lifted and guidelines being created for hosting outdoor sporting events, Atlantic Masters Club have not given up hope of being able to run a version of the Atlantic Lifeboat Swim at some point in the coming months.

Atlantic Masters chairperson Helen Colfer acknowledged that the health and safety of swimmers and local communities was their number one priority – but as the rules changed, they would look at their options.

“We are liaising with all relevant governing bodies to identify what we need to do to hold an event, be it virtual or scaled down, that could support the RNLI,” she said.

“As a swimming community, we cannot stress enough the gratitude we have for the work the RNLI do. Our club members are delighted to be able to help them in any way we can.”

For more information about Galway Lifeboat or to donate, click HERE

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