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Connacht Tribune

Making their voices heard



The Whileaways (from left): Nicola Joyce, Noriana Kennedy and Noelie McDonnell. "I loved the way we could work together and get on so well,” says Noriana. Photo: Doreen Kilfeather.

Lifestyle – Galway band The Whileaways are capturing an increasing amount of national attention with their original sound and their newly-released third album has become a favourite of late-night radio. Judy Murphy talked to them.

Having to turn people away from their gigs because of a ‘house full’ sign is a new phenomenon for Headford folk trio, The Whileaways, but that’s what happened when they played Matt Molloy’s in Westport last month.  And they’re not complaining, as their third album, From What We’re Made, builds on the success of their 2016 release, Saltwater Kisses.

The three, Noriana Kennedy, Nicola Joyce and Noelie McDonnell, say there’s “a feeling of momentum” about their music at present and they’re going to keep touring and performing to build on that.

Their campaign includes local shows in Kinvara and Portumna and one at the Clifden Arts Festival.

Wonderful solo performances, harmonies and backing instrumentation give the Whileaways their unique and special sound. Their songs, meanwhile, cover the gamut from upbeat to melancholy as From What We’re Made earns them a whole new group of fans.

Until now, the three had never regarded The Whileaways as a long-term project but things have changed, says Noelie, originally from Tuam, who’d carved out a successful solo folk career before teaming up with Nicola and Noriana. In fact, they’d all had been involved in other projects before circumstances brought them together professionally in 2012.

Nicola had been the singer with the internationally acclaimed folk band, Gráda, and Noriana was making waves as a solo singer-songwriter, who had collaborated with Dingle group Lumiere and Belfast fiddle player Maebh O’Hare.

Noriana’s 2011 solo album, Ebb n Flow, was the reason they came together, as she’d been invited to tour Australia and New Zealand and her regular band weren’t available.

The three knew each other from sessions around Galway and were fans of each other’s work, so when someone suggested they team up, they did.

They weren’t sure how it would work, because “we are all lead singers and all do the same thing”, says Noriana. But they needn’t have worried.

“We were together a lot of the time out there, with not much sleep and we got on! I loved the way we could work together and get on so well.”

While in Australia, they were offered a tour of Germany and went for it.

“The deal was that we had to have an album for Germany,” Nicola recalls. “We said we’d do one of original songs and we collaborated. There was no big plan. Things moved us along.”

They needed a name – and had conjured up some while in New Zealand, “in the back of a van”, Noelie recalls. The Wildlflowers won out for a time, but there was already another band of that name. The Whileaways had been an early contender, too, and it stuck.

“It came from a phrase about whiling away the hours. I liked it,” Noelie explains.

So did Noriana and Nicola, as much for the sound of the word as anything else.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road



Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.

Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.

This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.

It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.

During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.

Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.

While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.

Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.

Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.

In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.

Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.

“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.

“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.

“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.

The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.

Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.

(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)

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Connacht Tribune

Teen arrested over €45,000 cocaine seizure



Gardaí have seized €45,000 of what they believe to be cocaine in Ballinasloe.

Gardaí attached to Ballinasloe Garda Station conducted an intelligence-led operation in the Dunlo Harbour area of the town yesterday.

During the course of this operation a quantity of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth €45,000, concealed on derelict grounds was seized.

A male in his mid-teens was arrested at the scene and detained at Ballinasloe Garda Station on Sunday.

He has since been released with a file being prepared for the Garda Youth Diversion Office.

The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels.

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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