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Magic and madness in Fíbín’s Tóraíocht

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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

‘Horrific’ conditions at ‘temporary’ halting site

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Mould and damp around the shower, toilet and sink area in one of the units at the Carrowbrowne temporary halting site beside the Headford Road.
Mould and damp around the shower, toilet and sink area in one of the units at the Carrowbrowne temporary halting site beside the Headford Road. [File pic]

Living conditions at Carrowbrowne ‘temporary’ halting site on the Headford Road are “truly dreadful” and “distressing”, according to four University of Galway academics.

The quartet, who visited the halting site earlier this month, called on the authorities to provide “decent and culturally appropriate accommodation” for the 13 families living at the ‘temporary’ site, “as a matter of urgency”.

The call comes in the same week a former city mayor was sharply criticised for promoting ‘anti-Traveller rhetoric’.

Galway Traveller Movement urged Fianna Fáil to suspend City Councillor Michael John Crowe, pending a full investigation into comments he made in a press statement issued on Monday and repeated on local radio, about Galway City Council buying a house in Renmore for Traveller accommodation.

As that controversy raged on social media this week, Dr John Cunningham, Director of MA History, University of Galway, said he was shocked by the “scandalous” conditions he saw at Carrowbrowne ‘temporary’ halting site.

“I was at an event on campus earlier this year where President Michael D (Higgins) gave a speech and specifically denounced conditions in Carrowbrowne and he would know some of the families, who lived in the Westside area.

“So, I was aware of the circumstances but faced with the actual reality of it was just utterly shocking,” Dr Cunningham told the Galway City Tribune.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Kissing goodbye to hated gates under pilot project

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It was agreed to start the project with the gates in the Claddagh and Terryland Forest Park.

Kissing gates at South Park and Terryland Forest Park will be removed in a pilot project to assess their impact on public spaces.

Galway City Council has agreed to trial the removal or replacement of kissing gates in the city on a case-by-case basis while waiting for the completion of an audit that will be used to develop a policy on the controversial barriers at Wednesday’s Recreation and Amenity Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) meeting.

The follows anger among the cycling community that the one in South Park had been removed to facilitate a private company fun run only to be returned days later as reported in last week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway City East Councillor Owen Hanley, who attended the meeting, said it is still to be decided what barriers would be erected in their place and it would depend on the needs of the location.

“Previously I worked with Council staff on the Terryland Forest Park kissing gate along the cyclebus route and we agreed to use chicanes to slow but not stop users,” he revealed.

“Whatever goes in will allow cyclists and wheelchair users to pass. We have been given no timelines but it will be in the short-term and I will be following up on this.”

He said the Council has been discussing how to handle kissing gates since he was elected as a Social Democrat over three years ago.

“The rare instances where mopeds or motorbikes damage our green spaces does not justify the widespread use of kissing gates, in fact many times, kissing gates don’t even stop this behaviour. Kissing gates present a very real barrier to people who use wheelchairs or buggies, or cycle, preventing them for accessing public parks as well as routes to work and school.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Abuse and violence towards LGBT+ people is ‘massively under-reported’

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Fiona McDonagh-Delaney, Project Co-ordinator and Tiernan Arnup, Administration and Communications, Amach LGBT+, Westside Recource Centre. PHOTO: BRIAN HARDING.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people in Galway continue to suffer verbal abuse, violence, and threats of violence while socialising in the city, according to advocates.

Amach, which supports the local LGBT+ community, said that homophobia and hate crimes persist despite recent legislative gains and societal change in Ireland in recent years.

A new report by An Garda Síochána highlighted that just 17 ‘hate-related incidents’ were recorded in the Galway Garda Division in 2021.

That includes hate crimes and hate-related, non-crime incidents recorded across nine discriminatory motives including age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender.

But Fiona McDonagh-Delaney, project co-coordinator at Amach in the Westside Community Centre, said it was an “incredibly low figure”, that showed “massive under-reporting”.

LGBT+ Ireland reported a four-fold increase in calls to its helpline last year of people experiencing hate crime, based on their LGBT+ status, she said.

Ms McDonagh-Delaney said that was the reality on Galway’s streets too, even if the official Garda figures did not reflect that.

She said there was a “sense of normalisation” of threats of violence and violence itself, based on LGBT+ status. This had become “commonplace” in Galway and LGBT+ people avoided certain areas at weekends because of it.

“We’d know ourselves that on a Friday and Saturday night, you don’t go up around Eyre Square on a night out. You know what areas to avoid because you know you are at high risk of experiencing some form of abuse. Whether it’s verbal abuse, the threat of violence or actual violence,” she said.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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