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Loughrea opens window on its medieval past

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Loughrea was packed to capacity last weekend with close on 15,000 people from home and abroad attending the various events held in the town as part of its Medieval Festival.

Everything from a Medieval Banquet to puppeteers and from lectures and tours to children’s workshops ensured that the weekend had something for everyone.

The weekend commenced with a Medieval Banquet in the Loughrea Hotel and Spa, where over 250 people attended this night of fun and merriment – and several dressed up in medieval costumes.

The Temperance Hall was the centre of medieval creativity for over 450 children where they part-took in medieval games and archaeologist Anne Carey introduced a number of them to the skills of medieval calligraphy and investigated the amazing gold works of the period. Over 400 people attended the jousting picnic at the ‘Walks’ where medieval Knights battled it out on horse-back.

The Hall was also the venue for an outstanding puppet shows and paper bag puppet making by Carmel Balfe.

Loughrea Library hosted two packed to capacity heritage lectures one was a fascinating lecture by Clodagh Doyle from the National Museum about early hair hurling balls, while Dr. Jim McKeon gave a very insightful talk on the archaeology of medieval Loughrea.

This was followed by genealogical workshops from Western Family History Association, East Galway Genealogical Centre and Ireland Reaching Out.

Several restaurants, pubs, bakeries and businesses offered medieval fine dining and sustinance over the weekend and a number of shops decorated their windows with various medieval themes.

Over 100 people took the opportunity to visit Clonfert Diocesan museum and view their wonderful medieval collection that includes the Kilcorban Madonna that dates from c1180AD and the ‘Matheus Macraith’ chalice that is over 500 years old.

New additions to the weekend this year included the medieval tavern trail, the tug-o-war and the medieval busking competition that drew large crowds.

In excess of 240 people attended a wonderful Latin mass in the ruins of the Carmelite Abbey. It was a very moving and atmospheric event with mass commencing at dusk. There, mellifluous singing of the choir added to the ambience of the mass. Many of those in attendance had never been in the ruined abbey previously.

People had the opportunity to travel back in time to medieval Loughrea where they could see a 3D model of the town with its moat, earthen banks, the priory, castle and see the inhabitants who lived in the town.

This project is being developed by Realsim and is being funded by Loughrea Medieval Festival Committee, Galway County Council and the Heritage Council.

Sunday saw a group of over 100 people start the day off with heritage walks around the town with Colman Shaughnessy and Joe Loughnane.

This was followed by a Grand Clan Parade and then by a Walled Towns Family Fun Day.

Displays and events included a medieval weapons talk and demonstration, butter making, spinning, basket making, leather works, archers, potters, blacksmiths, woodturning, traditional crafts workshops, archaeological dig, bee keeping, circus skills workshops, traditional games, the medieval photo booth, medieval Olympics, boat trips on the lake and a falconry display.

It also saw the launch a special commemorative Loughrea Medieval Coin by Cllr. Peter Roche, Cathaoirleach, Galway County Council.  This was followed by the launch of Dr. Fiona Beglane’s magnificent book on ‘Anglo-Norman Parks in Ireland’.

“The partnership between local businesses, local communities, Galway County Council, The Irish Walled Towns Network and the Heritage Council in developing the Medieval Festival is very welcome and much needed to promote and sustain our community, our heritage and be a driver for tourism for the town and hinterland,” said Loughrea Medieval Festival Committee Chairperson Cllr. Michael Maher.

CITY TRIBUNE

GAA club’s tournament honours stalwart who died at just 28

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Pictured at the launch of the Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament which takes place in Mervue this Saturday. Back: Kevin Curran, Kevin Barrett, Robert Fitzgerald, Aidan Brady, Alan O'Donnell, Donal Murphy, Eanna O'Connell, Eoghan Frain, David Henry. Front: Aodhain Ó Conghaile, Liam O'Donnell, Rory Murphy, Fionn Fitzgerald and Michael Barrett.

The untimely passing of a city GAA stalwart six years ago is still deeply felt by the club he represented but he remains an inspiration to young up-and-coming footballers who will be displaying their skills this weekend.

The Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament for under-age teams will take place in St James’ GAA grounds at Mervue tomorrow, Saturday, when many memories of a great young clubman will be exchanged.

Darragh, from Lurgan Park in Renmore, was just 28 years of age when he lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Since then his beloved club has been organising a tournament for young footballers that’s proving immensely popular.

For tomorrow’s event, the St James club will entertain local teams including St Michael’s, Salthill-Knocknacarra, Killanin and an Cheathrú Rua, as well as Kiltane (Bangor Erris) and Elphin-Ballinameen from North Roscommon.

It is a nine-a-side tournament, which takes place from 11am to 5pm, and will involve Under-11 teams who will compete against each other during the day.

The fact that Darragh’s late father, Tom Frain Senior, hailed from Roscommon means that GAA support for the event is coming from both counties – this makes it extra special, as well as adding to the profile of the tournament.

Best friend and one of the event’s main organisers, another St James stalwart David Henry explained that this was the sixth year of the tournament and that Darragh would be very pleased that his name was being associated with the development of under-age football.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Too many cafés’ as city retail continues to decline

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Barber Tom Nally outside his premises.

The changing face of Galway city centre is a source of concern to those who say it reflects a decline for people in terms of retail choices.

Those who regret the loss of several long-standing family-run operations in the city in recent years don’t believe that what has replaced them has enhanced the appearance of Shop Street, in particular.

“We are looking at a proliferation of coffee shops, bookies and mobile phone outlets in their place,” observed long-standing city centre businessman Tom Nally.

Cllr Niall McNelis agreed there were far too many coffee shops in the city centre and believed that anything that has been zoned retail by the Council should remain retail.

The Labour Councillor said a proper retail strategy needed to be adopted and some of the ‘big-name brands’ needed to be encouraged into the centre of Galway to lure shoppers into town.

Meanwhile, popular barber Tom Nally regretted the number of family operations that have ceased trading in the recent past.

“It is sad to see the long-established family businesses in the city centre going and it would be great to say that what is replacing them will enhance our streets . . . but unfortunately this is not the case,” he added.

Mr Nally who has been operating out of his High Street premises for almost 50 years, said the number of unoccupied premises in an around the city centre was a new phenomenon.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

State cracks down on quick-buck landlords

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New measures to clamp down on illegal short-term lets in the city will kick in next month, in an attempt to tackle mounting pressure on the rental market.

From September 1, sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com will no longer be allowed to advertise short-term rentals if the correct planning permission is not in place.

The measure seeks to strengthen laws introduced in 2019 which state that the use of a property for short-term letting for longer than 90 days in a rent-pressure zone requires permission from the local authority.

City Councillor Niall Murphy (Green) said the move follows on from an objection he lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

“The ASAI said it couldn’t be expected to police these ads so the websites like Airbnb were off the hook. But after September, they will have to ensure that those advertising on their sites have planning permission,” he said.

The proliferation of short-term lets in the city has been a contentious issue for a number of years, with scores of holiday leases available at the same time as city residents are battling it out for an extremely limited number of rental properties.

This week, almost 400 short-term lets were available on the leading website, Airbnb, while just 19 homes were up for rent on Daft.ie.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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