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Connacht Tribune

Memorable debut from slow-burner Aoibheann



Aoibheann’s debut novel, Marina, has just been published.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

“Children fascinate me with their take on things. Before my daughter was born, I believed we were products of nurture; now I believe nature is very strongly in there,” observes writer Aoibheann McCann about human beings.

Aoibheann’s debut novel, Marina, has just been launched and its strange central eponymous character certainly seems more a product of nature than nurture.

The short novel is a darkly compelling read with its strange and unreliable narrator, who is sympathetic and often very funny as she struggles to find her own place and people.

Aoibheann, who is originally from Donegal, but who moved to Galway in 1992 to study at UCG, wrote the first draft in 2004 on a break from her day-job. Her daughter Saoirse was in primary school at the time, and Aoibheann used the school hours productively.

“I had a vague notion in my head as to what it would be about and it kind of wrote itself”, she explains of the novel.

Aoibheann wrote every day for six months, loving the process but then went back to work and “did nothing with it for eight years”.

Eventually she decided to revisit it and received encouragement when she showed it to people in her writers’ group. Then, during the 2013 Cúirt Festival of Literature, she successfully pitched for a mentorship programme and was paired up with Mike McCormack. He was ideal for someone of her writing style and sensibility as he too creates strange, surreal stories grounded in a very Irish reality.

Mike, who has since gone on to win international acclaim for his novel, Solar Bones, encouraged Aoibheann to compose a blurb for the novel to focus her mind on its core message. And he got her to examine its peaks and troughs and assess its overall rhythm.

That led her to some stylistic changes. Initially, Aoibheann had written the story in the past tense. But now past and present are interwoven, giving the reader a greater insight into Marina’s state of mind.

It quickly becomes apparent that Marina is in a psychiatric hospital and disconnected from her previous life. Her doctor offers a counterpoint to this unreliable narrator but his conviction that she is grieving for something that’s happened in her past is too reductive, says Aoibheann.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.


Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council brings in new rules on roadside memorials



Families and friends of road accident victims will have to apply in writing to erect a roadside memorial under a specific size following the adoption of a new policy by Galway County Councillors.

The new rules will not affect memorials already erected – but if they have to be replaced, they will have to satisfy the now agreed criteria.

The Council area engineer will have to approve the location of any proposed memorial and the written consent of the landowner must be sought where possible in advance.

If friends wish to erect a memorial, they must get the written agreement of the family of the deceased. The policy now prohibits any lighting as could distract motorists and flowers or vegetation around it is now not allowed as it could block sight lines.

If the memorial is a free-standing cross it must not be higher than 750mm and if it is a free-standing stone, it must now comply with a maximum dimension of 450mm high, 450mm wide by 150mm deep.

There can only be one memorial per accident, regardless of the number of victims under the new framework created in consultation with the Gardaí and Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s (TII) Regional Safety Engineer.

Up to now there has been no policy in place regarding roadside memorials, despite the fact that hundreds dot the countryside. But their erection can cause difficulties, such as interference with verge trimming, distraction to other road users, they can attract visitors to accident blackspots and have the potential to block sight lines.

The policy states that it may not be possible to locate the memorial at the exact location of the incident and any memorials erected without the approval of the Road Authority will be removed. No roadside memorials are permitted on dual carriageways with a speed limit of 100 km/h or motorways.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full story, see the July 1 edition of the Connacht Tribune. You can purchase a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Green hub could create up to 900 new jobs



Údarás na Gaeltachta is going full steam ahead with plans for a green energy hub at Ros an Mhíl Harbour in Conamara.

The regional authority responsible for economic growth in the Galway Gaeltacht confirmed it has appointed an international engineering firm to develop a masterplan for an offshore wind energy hub on Údaras-owned lands in Ros a’ Mhíl.

Atkins is a British firm headquartered in London, England with offices in Ireland, including Parkmore in Galway City.

The hub, according to an Údarás-commissioned feasibility study published several months ago, could support up to 900 jobs in the Conamara Gaeltacht, serving multiple floating and fixed wind farms off the west coast.

“The development of Ros a’ Mhíl as an offshore wind energy hub is likely to have a profound impact, not just on the economy of the Gaeltacht regions of Conamara and the Aran Islands but also on Ireland’s ability to lessen its energy independence,” said Údarás CEO, Micheál Ó hÉanaigh.

Earlier this year, Government signalled its support for a €25million investment in a new harbour at Ros a’ Mhíl.

This new masterplan to be carried out by Atkins will involve planning the port development, carrying out an economic assessment, and detailing the engineering and logistical requirements.

It will also involve creating a ‘Green Port Development plan’ with a view of attaining Net-Zero operations, which means cutting the greenhouse gas emissions of the harbour to as close to zero as possible.

The development lies in the heart of the Conamara Gaeltacht and Údarás said Atkins employed local Irish-speaking engineers as core team members of the project.

Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív (FF) welcomed progress of the project. “Never has it been more vital that we use our vast offshore wind resource to create renewable energy and ensure the security of our own energy supply,” he said.

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Connacht Tribune

Outdated parking meters set to be replaced



All old pay and display parking meters throughout County Galway towns are in line to be replaced.

Galway County Council has confirmed that it was planning to replace the existing outdated machines with new ones.

It comes after the County Council’s audit committee said that the cost of maintaining the existing stock of pay and display machines was ‘extremely high’.

The audit committee also noted that there were ‘resounding issues with the outdated parking meters’ for users and for Council maintenance.

The Council said that the replacement of its parking machines inventory was ‘ongoing’.

Funding had been set aside in its capital account to replace outdated machines.

Councillor Karey McHugh (Ind) argued that technology should be introduced whereby motorists could use an app to pay for a parking space.

Director of Services, Derek Pender, said the new machines could use coins and card payments through a ‘tap and go’ system.

The software was also available for the machines to be compatible with the app Cllr McHugh had suggested, which was in operation in Limerick, Tipperary and other local authority areas.

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