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Magic and madness in Fíbín’s Tóraíocht

Judy Murphy

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Mikel and cast in rehearsals for Tóraíocht.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

It’s a massive story with bonkers elements in it,” says actor and director Mikel Murfi of Tóraíocht”, which he’s directing for Connemara company, Fíbín.

Philip Doherty’s adaptation of the Irish legend, The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne, will run in the Black Box Theatre from November 10-13 and at present, six actors – four women and two men – are rehearsing in Inverin, creating some 30 characters in a process that involves “putting heads on fellas and putting people in and out of suits”, says Mikel with a laugh.

If anyone can create a finished product from such mayhem, it’s this multi-talented actor and director. Mikel’s previous directing credits locally include Diamonds in the Soil and The Lost Days of Ollie Deasy for Macnas as well as Enda Walsh’s The Walworth Farce and Penelope for Druid Theatre. He also appeared in another Enda Walsh hit, Ballyturk, alongside Cillian Murphy and Stephen Rea for Galway International Arts Festival.

Mikel studied the book, Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne for his Leaving Cert in Sligo where, he recalls, his class had a great teacher called Mannix O’Brien.

“He was always adding stuff and making the story come alive. And I always wanted to go back to it.”

That opportunity arose a couple of years ago when Fíbín invited Mikel to work with them. He suggested a new version of the Irish legend in which Fionn MacCumhaill’s intended bride, Gráinne, put the Fianna’s finest warrior, Diarmuid, under a ‘geas’ or pledge to run away with her instead. A cross-country chase ensued, with the Fianna pursuing the pair until their final capture in Sligo’s Ben Bulben.

The original story is episodic by nature, says Mikel, “so we had to work through that and create real-life drama for them”.

He initiated the adaptation by “writing a “bit of a speech for a lunatic character that I’d created, a vitriolic person who curses people all the time”.

The result was a three-page spiel, “a litany of bad things” which he gave to playwright Philip Doherty.

“I said that was the kind of madness I wanted and asked Philip if he could fit it all together,” says Mikel who wanted to keep the episodic nature of the legend and to build drama around that. It was important to have dynamic characters and lots of action for people who don’t have Irish, he adds.

Philip is director of the Cavan-based Gonzo Theatre company and the two men had met 10 years ago when Philip was studying for an MA in Drama and Theatre Studies at NUIG.

Mikel, who lectures on that course, admired his writing style and subsequently saw Philip’s work with Gonzo. So, it seemed logical to ask Philip to script Tóraíocht.

“It’s like some fella had put me inside his head,” says Mikel with a laugh. “And he’s done a remarkable job.”

The play moves between the poetic, the mad and comedic as it captures the madcap journey of Diarmuid and Gráinne around Ireland in their attempt to stay ahead of Fionn MacCumhaill and the Fianna, says its director.

Philip wrote it in English and the script was translated by Séamus Ó Coileáin.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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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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