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Kardashians and JLo among Galway artist’s fans

Denise McNamara



A digital artist in Galway has won the admiration of the Kardashian clan as well as the likes of JLo for her unique style of illustration shared over social media.

Since discovering digital art a year ago, Ellen McCann has used it as a way of dealing with bouts of anxiety which have plagued her since her college days.

Back then she was an art and design student in GMIT’s Cluain Mhuire campus for three years and the experience almost put her off art forever, she reflects.

“I just dropped out for personal reasons – Dad’s illness, I wasn’t in the best mind frame, but it’s only now I look back and think maybe that course wasn’t for me,” says Ellen, who is known to family and friends as Nelle, the name she has adopted for her art. x2 Image 2

“My style wasn’t encouraged – it was only a one-way street there. College told me what to do and it just wasn’t me.”

She left to take up a part-time job but found herself fed up and without any hobbies.

One night she decided to check out the social media site Instagram and discovered the world of digital art. Suddenly everything changed overnight.

“It’s like it flicked a switch inside me. It gave me a new energy. I decided to give it a go. It started off slow. You have to work hard at it. The first week I had an illustration of [supermodel and wife of singer John Legend] Chrissy Teigen and almost straight away she ‘liked’ me on Twitter.”

Soon her pieces were shared over the internet and she developed quite a fan following.

Her fascination with the Kardashians is evident in her Instagram portfolio – again and again Nelle has illustrated the buxom siblings, including one of a nude Kim, which earned a ‘like’ from the global celebrity, who shared the image with her staggering 40 million followers.

Images of sister Chloe and mother Kris Kenner have also earned the approval of the family who live their lives out over social media and before the cameras on their reality TV show. Another sister Khloe tweeted on one image: “@NELLE1717 Amazing!!!”

“You can’t help but get sucked into the Kardashian world; you can’t really miss them. I’ve always been drawn to feminine images and I love fashion and beauty. I’m very into feminine empowerment, I think they’re strong figures.

“I know not everything they’ve done in the past is the best, but they’ve created quite a business.”

Two of Ellen McCann's digital images.

Two of Ellen McCann’s digital images.

The fashion designer to the stars Michael Costello ‘liked’ a few of her illustrations. Then one night he asked if she would create an illustration of his celebrity client, singer and actress Jennifer Lopez. She excitedly obliged, immediately working long into the night and the following day.

The designer added the design to his Instagram page and suddenly she had thousands of views. JLo herself also tagged the piece on her own page.

“It was such a boost. You get highs and lows doing this. I spend 80 hours every week just drawing. Sometimes people think you have to just press a button and the work happens. But a piece can take eight to ten hours. When people recognise your hard work, it makes it worth it.”

Translating all that labour into rent money has proven more difficult.

She has been asked to do a number of portraits but for now the 26-year-old native of Moate, Co Westmeath will continue to build up her portfolio, hone her artistic style and hope to get commissions in the fashion and beauty world.

For a regular crust, she works as a graphic designer and social media manager for the Galway-based web design and business training company,

“Sometimes when I say out loud that I work 80 hours a week at this I think what the hell am I doing? But it helps my mind, it puts me at ease. It’s a form of therapy, it’s an escape. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it.”

Nelle’s illustrations can be seen on Instagram, Twitter , Facebook and also Pinterest.

Her website has also just been launched.


Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley



An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

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NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham



The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan

Dara Bradley



Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.

Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.

The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.

It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.

Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.

Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.

“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”

The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.

He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.

“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.

“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.

“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.

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