Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell
Maria Shiel’s musical odyssey has been twisting and turning since the early 2000s. From a successful stint with hip-hop/roots group Guava to extended periods producing and collaborating in the world of electronic music, it has taken a long time for her latest project to come to fruition.
Fire in the Sea!, a thirteen-track LP, sees the Galway-based singer-songwriter return to folk-music in its purest form. A West of Ireland love letter to America, it is laden with transatlantic connections in culture and sound.
Though the online release is set for Christmastime, hard copies of the album will be available from this Saturday, September 12.
Marked by a highly anticipated outdoor gig at the Galway Summer Garden, the launch night feels like the culmination of several decades’ worth of experience. Maria herself points to a level of introspection in the tracklist that trumps her previous work.
“It’s been a long journey,” she admits. “I don’t want to say it’s been twenty years because that sounds ridiculous but it sort of has in a weird way.
“I was in Galway in the early 2000s and started my first band then as a wee nipper called Guava. We were having a great time and I had put all of my eggs into that basket. We did a little tour in the states and the band broke up over there.
“The problem was emotionally I wasn’t able to handle it. I went away from Galway then and I was in Dublin for twelve years and, while I was up there, I just couldn’t get band members. I set up a little record label online and I did some electronic collaborations.
“I kind of ended up doing loads of stuff all over the world which was great but it was very headphones-y. In about 2011, I started going back into playing guitar again. I got accepted to play at a songwriting festival in Texas in 2014 and that basically opened everything up. I got the grá back again to get writing and singing on guitar… I released a mini-album called Star and then I came back from Texas and I had about eight songs that came in a very short period of time.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Aran to welcome Ireland’s largest domestic passenger ferry
The largest domestic passenger ferry in the country is making its journey from the Far East to the Far West – ready to commence service from Galway to the three Aran Islands.
The 40-metre ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ represents a massive investment – and vote of confidence – in island tourism on the part of the owners, Aran Island Ferries.
Commissioned in January 2019, this sixth member of their fleet has a capacity of 400 – and it is expected to arrive in Galway Bay from Hong Kong in October.
The vessel departed Hong Kong last week, embarking on a 2,500 mile journey to Galway Bay – inside the hold of a heavy lift ship called Svenja’”.
Saoirse na Farraige has at least three more stops to make before arriving in Galway Bay at the end of October – and it won’t not enter service until next spring.
Aran Island Ferries Sales and Marketing Manager, Aine McLoughlin, said that they were looking forward to seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands, enjoying the increased capacity, accessibility, and safety features.
“We are really looking forward to officially launching ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ next year and seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands on board our new ferry,” she said.
Saoirse na Farraige will serve all three islands from Rossaveel – with a journey time of 40 minutes to Inis Mór, 50 minutes to Inis Meáin, and 55 minutes to Inis Oírr.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in now – or download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie
Emergency Department upgrade will happen at UHG – but it’s complicated
Revamping the emergency department at UHG will involve three separate projects – leading to the hospital’s chief describing the process as ‘very complex’.
City Councillor John Connolly (FF) said the people of Galway were concerned that the new emergency department – like the ring road – would never happen, as it appeared to be so bound up in red tape.
Joe Hoare, assistant national director of estates in HSE West, told the Regional Health Forum West meeting that that outpatients department adjacent to the emergency department was being redeveloped to create more capacity for streaming Covid patients from non-Covid patients for the winter.
The outpatients department would be relocated to the Merlin Park campus. The design for this building would be completed within ten months with construction expected to begin in by last 2021 at the earliest.
An interim emergency department was the next priority so that the current building could be knocked to make way for the new state-of-the-art building, creating a new maternity department and paediatrics unit.
Since the budget for the new children’s hospital had blown out of all proportion, the rules over public projects over €100 million had changed and the Saolta hospital group had to ensure its business case for the massive project was ‘watertight’.
Mr Hoare said all three projects were moving in parallel, including the enabling works for the main build, which would take around 18 months to complete.
He described the project as Saolta’s ‘absolute top priority and was regarded as such by the national HSE organisation.
Head of Saolta, Tony Canavan, said the project was ‘big and very complex’ and required management to remain ‘very focused over a long time’.