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Head over heels in love with the art of cheerleading

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Lifestyle – Jessica Thompson meets members of the Irish Cheerleading Team and finds a determination to banish pom-pom image

When we think about cheerleading, we think long legs, short skirts and pom-poms, thanks to the clichés that are American high school movies which often place cheerleaders on the sidelines of major sports events.

But the reality is that cheerleading is an official sport, with major sports events of its own, and is possibly far more thrilling, dangerous and energetic than football or basketball.

In fact, there are even World Championships in Cheerleading and the Irish Cheerleading Team is travelling to Florida to compete this month.

“You have to be incredibly fit and strong to do the tumbles and stunts,” said Fiona Collumb, manager of Team Ireland, who founded Ace High Cheer in Tuam a few years ago.

“We don’t use poms; there’s choreography but we’re trying to break through the barrier,” she added, stressing that cheerleading is far from the cliché we see in the movies.

The Irish Cheerleading Team travelled to Florida on Tuesday to compete in the International Cheer Union (ICU) World Cheerleading Championships this weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Team Ireland formed in May 2013 with the intention of travelling to Florida to represent Ireland in the world championships and to build and develop the sport of cheerleading within Ireland. The team will compete against the likes of Team USA and Team England who have been training for years.

“Cheerleading is underestimated. It’s overlooked as more of a playful pastime than a serious sport. Cheer is very physically and mentally challenging and is a lot more difficult than it looks,” said 15-year-old Galway City native Anna Clarke, who will be competing in Florida this month.

“When stunts and tumbles are attempted without proper training, you are most definitely at risk. It involves a lot of personality, attitude, fitness and endurance.”

Anyone can get involved with cheerleading and the Galway organisations currently facilitate people of all shapes and sizes.

“There are men and women, aged as young as three and a half to cheerleaders in their forties and fifties. It doesn’t matter about shape or size. Everyone has a place in cheerleading. Shape, size and weight are not an issue,” said Miss Collumb.

There are currently around 15,000 cheerleaders in the various cheerleading groups in Ireland, with each squad training regularly to move from level one to level six in skill, with the latter being the most difficult.

The World Championships in Florida are level five and Team Ireland has been training hard to meet the incredibly high standards they will face at the end of the month. Training currently takes place in Galway every Saturday and Sunday and the team members travel from across the country to practice.

There are numerous cheerleading organisations in Galway at the moment, according to Fiona. The Galway City Cougars are based in the city; Ace High Cheer is based in Tuam. There are also teams in Headford and Claremorris.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Live album looks after those who make it real

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Mick Flannery….album for the crew.

Anyone who has seen Mick Flannery play live will know that the Corkman doesn’t embrace the spotlight with both arms. There is a sincerity to what he does – his reluctance to operate as any sort of frontman is only outweighed by passion for his craft.

His shows are intimate and they’re backed up by a studio-quality sound and a genuine engagement between artist and audience. It is what happens when someone who doesn’t like talking about themselves ends up pouring their heart out on stage.

It is fitting, then, that Mick’s new album revolves around the people around him. All of the proceeds for Alive – Cork Opera House 2019, the singer-songwriter’s first live LP, will be shared among members of his band and crew who have lost work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s a major gesture from a modest talent and Mick is quick to point out that the album reflects just how much he owes to those that share his stage.

“I’m glad that it’s there as a tribute to them,” he says of the album. “I think Alan Comerford had a great gig that night on electric guitar with the solos that he played. Matthew Berrill was on the brass and he did some lovely stuff.

“There’s a few of the lads in the band who have music as their sole income. It’s not always easy to do that. It’s constantly booking gigs in bars around the place and that but it’s what they do and it’s what they have a passion for. They’ve worked hard to do what they love for a living and now these circumstances have taken that away.

“I have a kind of area to pivot – I can start writing songs and preparing albums whereas for the crew, without the live gigs their skillset is not being used at all… Lighting engineers and sound engineers, riggers, people that have built up PA companies over the years and small venues as well.”

For full interview, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Connecting children with classical music

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Connecting Kids with ConTempo is a four-week initiative designed to help children engage with classical music in a fun and creative way.

Beginning this Friday at 11am, the scheme, which is being run by the Galway Music Residency (GMR) will run over four Fridays.

The Galway Music Residency will release a video each week which will feature a short performance by ConTempo Quartet with an educational introduction. These videos will explore different aspects of classical music, from the composition of a string quartet to understanding a waltz.

The children will be asked to listen to the music on each video, with specific questions in mind and are then invited to respond creatively to ConTempo’s performance. They can do this through art, writing or anything else that comes naturally to them.

The children’s creations can be sent to GMR and will be displayed on its social media and website.

Connecting Kids with ConTempo is geared primarily at primary school children, but young people of all ages are encouraged to enjoy these beautiful performances and delve a little deeper into the listening experience, explains the General Manager of Galway Music Residency Maeve Bryan.

Connecting Kids with ConTempo can be found on GMR’s Facebook page (@thegalwaymusicresidency) or YouTube Channel (The Galway Music Residency).

It will take place this Friday, July 31, Friday, August 11, Friday, August 14 and Friday August 21, at 11am each day.

Participation is free, but donations are welcome and, according to Maeve, will help GMR to create more online educational content in these difficult times.

Donations can be made on individual Facebook posts or via www.galwaymusicresidency.ie.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Artist collective, Theatre57 now open to new members

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Theatre-maker Róisín Stack, one of the founders of Theatre57.

Theatre57, the Galway theatre collective that launched last year with 57 members and now has more than 90, is currently inviting new people to join.

The group, which acts as a point of contact and an advocate for independent members of the Galway theatre community, is welcoming new and existing members. Performers, producers, directors, designers, technicians, playwrights and those who are pursuing a career in professional theatre outside of a regularly funded organisation are welcome to apply. Members must be making theatre in Galway city or county.

Theatre57’s main aim is the establishment of a hub for theatre-makers where creative and professional development can be nurtured.

The group’s members point out that while other cities such as Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Belfast and Dublin have these spaces, Galway does not. They believe that having such a space would allow people in the business to share their knowledge and would encourage professional and creative excellence. The result would be a stronger and more diverse theatre community throughout Galway.

Theatre57 “believes in creative autonomy, the spirit of co-operation and the power of community”, according to a spokesperson for the group who quotes the Irish-language statement ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ which translates as ‘there is strength in numbers’.

The group has had a busy and productive 2020, liaising between and advocating for self-employed members of Galway theatre community, many of whose livelihoods have been seriously affected by Covid-19.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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