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Galway student makes Irish team at poetry festival

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Performance poetry might not ring bells with too many people – but experiencing its ability to transform my own life in the matter of a few months, I believe it has the potential to one day be held alongside the works of Heaney and Yeats as one of the many artistic merits this country has to offer.

Having been a St Jarlath’s man for many years, I can’t say I was ever deprived of the opportunity to join extra-curriculars. Like most secondary schools across the country, much was available to us pupils, from musicals to debating to – most notably – sport.

BY RYAN MANGAN

Yet, I never felt as though there were many activities at hand which saw students use their voices to express their opinions, in a non-judgmental informal environment, but instead one that would remain mostly upbeat and enjoyable.

It wasn’t until my Leaving Cert year – when I crossed paths with former Cúirt Poetry Slam Champion and author of two Salmon Poetry titles, Stephen Murray – that I’d finally pinned down what I was looking for….performance poetry.

As director of Inspireland he has carried his creative writing workshops across to so many secondary schools nationally. His main mission – to inspire his students to use their voices in a way that appeals to them, in an atmosphere of respect.

When he visited St Jarlath’s, we were encouraged to use poetry to open up our minds, to write about something that we cared about. He said it was a chance to express ourselves and to release some withheld emotions; no strings attached.

So I wrote ‘Nursing Home.’

I was surprised at how liberating it was to write about my grandmother with old age dementia, and how the feeling of anonymity upon visits to her made me feel.

I was wrong, also, about my misconception that poetry had to be something with ample rules and restrictions. It turns out there were strings attached to it, but very good ones.

He had made an online blog as part of his company, where he’d published six thousand of his student’s poems, and he chose me as one of his eight to bring onto RTÉ Arena where he would send five of us over to Atlanta for the world’s largest international performance poetry festival, and HBO’s American TV show, Brave New Voices.

In the months between meeting him and the final, I began my preparation by researching the festival online. Some videos from the festival had millions of views on YouTube and it was so refreshing to see this art that was, in essence, half way between written poetry and rap without the music.

It was the answer to my longing and it just so happened to be an art.

Most of my competitors were also new to the culture of performance poetry, so we got in contact and began bouncing off each other for ideas – developing strong friendships which stemmed from our new-found discovery.  We were all transformed by it.

During the RTÉ finals, we were all so impressed with each other’s words and how much life each other’s performances gave to the written poems.

I’m very blessed to say that in the end I won a place on Team Ireland. The poem I performed was entitled ‘Suicide Awareness,’ and, had I not discovered performance poetry, I don’t think I would have ever plucked up the courage to share my views on mental health with anybody, and definitely never as openly.

Myself, Mel Kavanagh (Dublin), Iobhar Stokes (Limerick), Neasa McCormack (Clare) and Lucy Fitzgerald (Kerry), have fallen in love with performance poetry since getting involved and, as this countries pilot, we have made an oath of doing all we can to raise the profile of this art before the festival in July and hopefully, another competition over in Leeds this June.

In the coming months we look forward to writing and performing together as well as releasing videos of our work.

And it is also our mission to reach out to the public in the meantime and hopefully gain support for this initiative.

Unfortunately there is a cost involved in travel expenses and admission to the Brave New Voices Festival, so each team member has to try and raise €500.

If you’re interested in supporting me, I can assure you that no donation is too small. You can contact me on ryanmangan@live.ie

Ryan Mangan is from Belclare, Tuam. Son of Jarlath and Angelina, the St Jarlath’s past pupil is now a first year Science student in NUIG, and his poetry has been inspired by his own battle with depression and the issue of mental illness among teenagers.

CITY TRIBUNE

Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

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

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