A grant of half a million euro for the development of an enterprise hub in An Spidéal will enable Údarás na Gaeltachta to attract the Gaeltacht diaspora back to work and live in Irish-speaking communities in Connemara.
The hub planned for a building behind An Ceardlann craft centre in the seaside village will be dedicated to established enterprises and start-ups working in creative and digital media sectors.
It will be similar to the Portershed innovation hub in Galway City; a co-working space with ‘hot-desks’ for short-term use, desk space for long-term use, offices and other facilities such as conference centres and meetings rooms. One of the big attractions is it will have gigabyte-enabled broadband.
Údarás na Gaeltachta expects the facility to be up and running in 2019 as planning permission has already been obtained, and it has gone through the design stage and some tendering has taken place.
Known as gteic Hub Na Spidéal, it will be the third such facility to be opened by Údarás na Gaeltachta in the space of a year.
Earlier this summer a hub was opened in An Cheathrú Rua, and a hub planned for a building behind the organisation’s headquarters in Na Forbacha is already at an advanced stage and will open this December or early in the New Year.
There will be 25 hot desks at gteic An Spidéal, as well as 10 offices, varying in size from one to four or five desks; two meetings rooms, one with a video conference facility; canteen, tea station, breakout facilities, four phone pods, and three meeting booths. It will cater for between 40 and 50 people.
The gteic planned for Na Forbacha will have 40 hot desks, six offices, four phone pods, two meeting rooms, and canteen facilities. Páid Ó Neachtáin, Public Relations Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta, told the Connacht Tribune that the Government grant of €548,887 for An Spidéal was “most welcome”.
It represents 75% of the cost of the project – the Údarás Board is expected to approve the remaining 25% funding at a meeting in the New Year.
Mr Ó Neachtáin said there was already an “audio visual cluster” of businesses in An Spidéal and Indreabhán with Ros na Rún, Telegael and TG4.
This new facility in An Spidéal will cater for creative and digital media primarily, to complement those existing businesses, but all and any enterprises will be considered for inclusion in the facility, which will offer low-cost rents and other benefits to clients.
Mr Ó Neachtain said the overall objective of Údarás na Gaeltachta is to ensure that Irish remains the main communal language of the Gaeltacht and is passed on to future generations – this project will enable it to fulfil that function.
“Remote working is one of the things that we will be promoting in gteic Hub Na Spidéal. We want to connect with the Gaeltacht Diaspora, be they people in Dublin or even people who are living in the Gaeltacht but who are working in Parkmore Industrial Estate in the city. If they can do a three-day week working remotely here, that cuts out the traffic and the commute for them, but it will also add to the energy and the life of the Gaeltacht community,” he said.
Barring any ‘unforeseen’ circumstances, the hub will be operational next year, he added. The funding is part of the Government’s €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, which aims to breathe new life into Ireland’s smaller towns and villages.
Gaeltacht Minister Seán Kyne, the Galway West Fine Gael TD, welcomed the funding.
Eyrecourt tune makes it to Hollywood in Jig time
A tune composed to celebrate the twinning of Eyrecourt in south-east Galway with Gouesnach in France is to feature in a new film.
Written by Niall Crehan, ‘The Eyrecourt Jig’ made quite a splash when it was released in 2013 and is still popular in music sessions up and down the country.
Niall had been commissioned to write the tune for the 20th anniversary of the twinning of the two villages, Eyrecourt and Gouesnach.
So, when he had a small part as a fiddler in a TV film called Royal Rendevouz, he started playing the jig.
The producers were so impressed, they added it to the movie soundtrack and it will appear in the credits.
Niall is a member of a celebrated traditional Irish musical dynasty hailing originally from County Clare.
He is the youngest son of whistle and concertina player Vincent Crehan and nephew of renowned fiddler Junior Crehan.
Niall and his brother Kieran ran the Dublin shop Crehan Musical instruments until his early retirement.
Now living in Kildare, Niall is a cousin of publican Mick Crehan, who runs the renowned folk pub in the west end of Galway, The Crane.
Niall and the large army of musicians in the extended family are regular guests.
His brother Dermot got music playing parts on films such as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and he managed to get Niall onto the likes of Downton Abbey.
This latest TV project is the latest foray into the world of film, explains his son Brian.
The story centres on an American chef who is invited to an Irish manor to cook a feast in order to convince the matriarch not to sell the home.
It premieres on Sunday, February 26 at 9pm on the E! Network starring Isabella Gomez, Ruairi O’Connor and Ronan Raftery.
‘No show’ TDs criticised at County Galway policing committee meeting
A county councillor has launched a stinging criticism of Oireachtas members for their repeated failure to attend County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meetings.
At a meeting of the JPC on Monday, Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher (photographed) said he believed it was time the three TDs on the committee decided if they wanted to remain, or give their place up to someone who would make use of it.
“I am asking the Council to write out to our Oireachtas members and ask them do they want to be on this JPC or not, and if not, let someone else be on it,” blasted the Fine Gael councillor.
This followed repeated non-appearances from TDs representing the Oireachtas on the committee – the three representatives are Deputy Noel Grealish (Ind), Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) and Deputy Catherine Connolly (Ind).
Cllr Maher said the JPC, which sits around five times per year, was deliberately held on a Mondays to facilitate Oireachtas members who were in the Dáil later in the week. He said there were issues being raised regularly that required raising at a national level and it was incumbent on national representatives to bring those matters back to Dublin.
One such issue was the use of CCTV in the pursuit of illegal dumpers and travelling crime gangs, said Cllr Maher who is Cathaoirleach of the County Council.
“I would like our members of the Oireachtas to be taking the message back on CCTV,” he added, as representatives locally were getting no further as a result of data protection laws.
None of the three Oireachtas members were present for this week’s meeting. Chair of the JPC, Cllr Jim Cuddy, confirmed he had received an apology from Deputy Catherine Connolly.
New Chief Executive for Galway County Council
The new Chief Executive of Galway County Council is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
Liam Conneally, who is Director of Services for Economic Development at Clare County Council, is understood to be the preferred candidate following an interview process and has been offered the post.
His appointment will have to be ratified by councillors at an upcoming meeting of Galway County Council.
He will replace Jim Cullen, who was Acting CE for a number of years.
The last permanent CE of the local authority was also a Clare native, Martina Moloney who retired in 2014.
Since then, Kevin Kelly initially and then Jim Cullen have been acting in the roles.
According to his LinkedIn page, Liam Conneally was a senior planner at Limerick City and County Councils for almost three years before taking up the Director of Services role in Clare in 2016.
He was educated at University of Limerick and Queen’s University Belfast.
A native of Ennistymon, he is steeped in the GAA.
“He’s done a very good job in Clare; he’s very dynamic and forward-looking, he will be a good choice for Galway County Council,” said a source familiar with Mr Conneally, and the interview process.
Government completed a review in 2021 about whether it was going to appoint someone permanently into the CE role, which was filled on a temporary/acting basis for almost nine years.
It’s understood that officials in Dublin had delayed filling the role as they wanted to push for an amalgamation of both Councils.
The amalgamation, however, was rejected by local politicians, and has since been put on the back burner.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, is due to retire this year. It’s understood his deputy CE, Patricia Philbin will take the role in an acting capacity until an interview process is completed.