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Hard Knocks Hostel drama hits the web

Denise McNamara



At a short film screening in Galway last month, actor Chris O’Dowd said Galway could well become the short film capital of Europe. And two budding Galway-based film makers are hoping to prove him right with a new comedy web series due to go online at the end of the month.

Karen Murphy has written, starred and directed the six-part series called Hard Knocks Hostel. Her partner Aaron Woods is the producer.

Karen used the experience of working for over three years in Barnacles Hostel on Quay Street to create the plot.

Set in a badly-run backpacker hostel in rural Ireland, the series follows the lives of two receptionists who are bored to tears working in the facility. To cope with the monotony, they get creative in their dealings with guests, which is fine by the boss, who has a rather unusual philosophy when it comes to the service industry – the customer is not always right.

“The wealth of characters you meet in a hostel – I felt after a year that I was meeting the same person over and over again – but not in a bad way,” smiles Karen.

“The guy with the guitar who bought an extra plane seat for his guitar so he can impress the girls in the canteen; the old man in a beanie who thinks he’s still 20; the stags who run around naked in the halls. Then there’s the types not used to hostels who think they’re in a hotel.”

The entire series was made for just €1,200 after Aaron launched an appeal on the public fundraising website,

They recruited a team of 20 actor and crew members over Facebook and other industry websites and managed to convince the owner of Kilronan Hostel on Inishmore to let them take over the building for four days for free during their off-peak season.

The couple put in 14-hour days to wrap up the shoot in time, barely making the last boat off the island on day five.

Little Cinema, which provides a platform for filmmakers with small budgets by holding live screenings every month in the Róisín Dubh, provided massive support for the project by renting out high quality equipment for the shoot at a bargain basement price.

Little Cinema bought the equipment after Chris O’Dowd, star of the Hollywood blockbuster Bridesmaids and creator of the hit series Moone Boy, handed them €5,000 – two years running.

He was so impressed by the group’s support for fledgling artists that he attended their recent special screening in Nun’s Island Theatre, just days before he was conferred with the freedom of his native Roscommon.

The couple met while at the University of Limerick; Aaron from outside Ennis spent four years studying music and video production while Kildare native Karen studied law after her first choice, acting in Cambridge University, proved too costly.

They then both completed the masters in production and direction at the Huston Film School at NUIG.

While both of them have short films behind them, this is their first major production.

“At some point we’re going to enter the real film industry and you won’t have the choice who you work with or the material. It was kind of a fantasy to get together with a few of my friends and other like-minded people and just get stuck in creatively,” Karen recalls.

Each of the six episodes will last about seven minutes. The series will be available for free online and hope to use it to open some doors when they emigrate to Vancouver in Canada next January.

“Low-budget filmmaking is taking Galway by storm. With filmmaking, the only real way to get started is to go it alone. That’s why I rely on great sites like to help me reach my goal and find the funds for short films I wish to make,” Aaron explained.

“People don’t look up whether you have a masters. It’s your show reel that counts. There’s also quite a lot of nepotism in the industry, so it’s a lot of who you know here.”

At nearly 27, Karen is ready to leave her hostel-working days behind for a career in film. Aaron, who works in the IMC cinema to fund his film ambitions, is hoping his lack of a car won’t hinder him anymore once in Vancouver. He says most of the work in Galway is not accessible unless you have private transport.

They both hope to take advantage of a thriving industry in Canada, where many American companies travel to for shoots due to tax breaks

Hard Knocks Hostel is currently being edited and the episodes will be launched at a special screening in the Quays Bar on November 28. It will then be available on Facebook


Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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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Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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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Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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