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Outdoor cinema in push for new arts centre

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The drivers of a campaign to turn Loughrea’s old Town Hall into an arts centre proved their point recently – by drawing hundreds to watch movies in the open air.

LARC (Loughrea Arts Recreation and Culture) wants to restore the old Town Hall and Cinema building to public use as a multifunctional arts and cultural centre. But in the continued absence of such a centre, they still proved the demand was there – by using the recent Culture Night to host a pop-up outdoor cinema on the town’s picturesque Fairgreen overlooking Lough Riach.

And fittingly – given their plan – the 1985 cult classic ‘Back to the Future’ was their choice on the night.

Conditions were perfect for their outdoor cinema event, with the Dublin-based Underground Cinema providing and assembling the pop-up cinema – and local businesses and volunteers all coming together to play their part.

The old Town Hall

The old Town Hall

McCormack’s filling station, for example, granted LARC access to their electrical outlets. Free power provided by the local businesses enabled an otherwise eerie post-twilight Fairgreen to be converted into a rustic outdoor cinema club with cascading fairylights overlooking the waterfront.

Another local business, McD’s of Loughrea, allowed free use of their car-park, and local volunteers assisted in guiding cars and pedestrians to and from the car-park and event site.

Event organizers were surprised by the high turnout of families that attended, as the film was screened at 9.30pm.

Daniel Cronin reported a turnout of around 300, with “at least 100 to 150 in front of the screen and the same again sitting on walls surrounding the Fairgreen”.

People flocked to the park in festival attire with fishing chairs, blankets and take-aways in hand.  Families, couples, groups of friends all huddled together, wrapped in jackets coats and blankets for an al fresco pizza-fuelled cinematic experience.

And they left the place as they found it.

“Everyone took everything away. There was no rubbish left behind. I went back the next morning to double check and there was nothing except for a pair of gloves that had obviously fallen out of somebody’s pocket,” says Daniel.

It was just another idea with the community group hopes to convince Galway County Council – which owns the protected structure on the corner of Barrack Street and Church Street – to set aside their Part 8 planning application to redevelop the structure as start-up offices and a Heritage Museum.

The community has already shown a united front in opposition to the council’s plans.

LARC members at the Loughrea Town Hall (from left), Ciara Coy, Daniel Cronin, Tony Callanan, Fergal Anderson and Mary Paula Healy.

LARC members at the Loughrea Town Hall (from left),
Ciara Coy, Daniel Cronin, Tony Callanan, Fergal Anderson and Mary Paula Healy.

And they have been beavering away compiling a feasibility study – using findings from community surveys, discussion groups, drawing information from various arts centres and similar projects.

“Loughrea doesn’t have any public infrastructure for creative arts or culture and we think that’s something that’s necessary – the town wants it.

“There’s need for a creative outlet for the people that live here, and for access to cultural events – that’s part of a growing as a community, that’s part of a living society, that’s part of what makes somewhere a good place to live.

“We want Loughrea to be a good place to live,” said LARC’ Fergal Anderson.

Following Culture Night, LARC held a meeting to discuss events and assess when they are in terms of plans, finance and scheduling.

Going forward LARC focus their attention on their upcoming fundraiser event, the Big Gig, which is to be held on Saturday, November 7, in the Lough Rea Hotel.

The fundraiser will host ten or twelve local groups, including drama groups and performers, poets, traditional dancers, singers and songwriters.  The Big Gig is designed “to showcase all that can be done under one roof” serving as preview to the potential possible uses for their proposed Loughrea Town Hall conversion, says Fergal.

The local community group are calling on local artists to submit pieces for exhibition at the Big Gig, where the gallery will serve as a platform to show that the creative arts are very much alive in Loughrea.

Local architect Maria Donoghue has been of invaluable service to the Loughrea community group.

The Loughrea native now lives in Limerick but remains very much connected to her hometown and felt compelled to help LARC in their plight to save a precious local heritage site. Daniel describes her as ‘very enthusiastic about the project’ and relays her anecdotal tales of Town Hall dances she attended as a young girl. Locals have been denied access to the building since the late 1980s.

Maria is working free of charge and has just completed first draft drawings based on results from a survey, carried out amongst the community.

The first draft provides a general outlook, a suggested framework as to what Loughrea Town Hall could potentially become. They say it is now “ready for scribbling and re-drafting”.

Blueprints will be showcased for the local community to see at the Big Gig. An information desk will be made available to provide answers to questions and queries.  A large function room on the ground floor level of Lough Rea Hotel will play venue to the event – large enough, they hope for the entire local community to rally together.

Tickets for the Big Gig will be available for purchase from ‘Bia Linn’ café on Main Street, Loughrea, priced at €10 or they may be purchased at the door on the night of the event for €12.50.

For further information visit LARC website or contact them via their Facebook.

Connacht Tribune

School walkway remembers much-loved member of staff

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Minister Frank Feighan with Lucy Daly's family at the opening of Lucy’s Way (from left) Lucy's father Jackie O'Shea, her sons Niall and Aaron Daly, and her mum Florrie O’Shea.

A Galway school unveiled its new sensory walkway as a lasting memorial to its much-loved secretary who passed away earlier this year.

Lucy’s Way at Esker National School is named after Lucy Daly, and fittingly her sons Niall and Aaron were on hand to cut the ribbon with Junior Minister for Health, Frank Feighan, recently.

The Minister was at the Athenry school to also officially open the school’s new Outdoor Classroom and Sensory Gardens, as well as the Walkway – just as summer begins to bloom.

Also in attendance also were the Bishop of Galway and Michael Duignan; Monsignor Cathal Geraghty; Karen Cotter from Active School Flag, Andrew McBride from Healthy Ireland and Karen Colcannon representing Galway Sports Partnership.

The work was completed in a voluntary capacity by parents of the school, the local Rural Social Scheme and staff members with the support of school management.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

No room in the city – so college students told to look at Tuam or Athenry

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NUIG...accommodation advice.

Students coming to NUIG this September have been advised by the college to check out their accommodation options… as far away as Tuam, Oughterard, An Spidéal or Athenry.

Unfortunately, that is likely to prove as fruitless as searching for a flat in the city, because those involved in the rental sector say that there is very little available around the county either.

A trawl through accommodation websites reveals an extremely limited supply of rental properties across the county – particularly when it comes to those suitable for students.

And even when there is availability, you won’t find a one-bed property for much for less than €1,000 as the dearth of rental accommodation has resulted in owners demanding close to city prices.

Tuam auctioneer Michael Mannion said that there are very few properties to be had, and the vast majority of those that come to the market will not suit students.

“We don’t have them at the moment, and it is futile for NUIG suggesting they look at the likes of Tuam – or any other similar-sized town for that matter in the county,” he said.

“There is no problem about accepting students, but the houses and apartments are not there to accommodate them. There is no building going on and while this is the case, there are very few properties up for rent,” Mr Mannion added.

Student accommodation in Galway City averages out at around €1,500 per month which is putting a major financial strain on families.

NUIG recently advised students to consider seeking accommodation in Tuam (22 miles from the college), Oughterard (18 miles), An Spidéal (12 miles), Moycullen (8 miles) or Athenry (15 miles).

The NUIG Students Union described the fact that NUIG is recommending that other areas outside the city as a reflection of the current situation.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Government bows to pressure on rural work schemes

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Minister Heather Humphreys.

SWEEPING reforms to a number of local employment schemes – announced this week by the Government – have allayed fears among West of Ireland communities over the future of thousands of rural jobs.

A six-year time limit for participants in the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) has now been axed by the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys – if that clause had remained, 45 positions in Galway would be cut from February 1 next.

The package of reforms has been warmly welcomed by West of Ireland TDs and public representatives including Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte and East Galway Fine Gael TD, Ciaran Cannon.

“We’ve all worked very had to bring these changes about, and at a time when it’s nearly impossible to get workers, these are common-sense measures which will mean an awful lot to villages, towns and communities across the West of Ireland,” said Anne Rabbitte.

According to Deputy Ciaran Cannon, the abolition of the six-year participation rule in the Rural Social Scheme was one of the central points raised at a huge public meeting in Athenry at the end of May.

“The Minister hopes to effect the abolition of the rule within a very short timeframe thus clearing the way for participants to remain working on the Rural Social Scheme up to retirement age,” said Deputy Cannon.

The reforms – confirmed by both Minister Humphreys and Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday – will apply to the RSS; Tús [a one-year community work placement scheme]; and Community Employment (CE) schemes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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