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Putting Galway in the picture

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Galway has a long tradition in film dating back to Robert Flaherty’s 1934 film Man of Aran and John Ford's The Quiet Man in 1951, a scene from which is featured above with stars Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets the people who helped Galway to achieve its UNESCO City of Film status

It’s just a year since Galway was designated a UNESCO City of Film, joining a small group which also includes Sydney, Sofia, Bradford and, most recently, Rome.

Since then, Galway Film Centre, which is responsible for nurturing film in Galway City and County, has not been resting on its laurels.

From it base at the former Redemptorist training centre in Cluain Mhuire, Mervue, it is co-ordinating a diverse series of events, from training programmes to screenings, and is drawing up plans to attract more film-makers to Galway in future while supporting the existing local industry.

“From the Docks in Galway City, where the Irish Film Board is based, all the way to TG4 at Baile na hAbhainn there are companies all along the route,” says the Manager of Galway Film Centre Declan Gibbons, who has been appointed Director of Galway UNESCO City of Film.

Some companies, such as Telegael in Spiddal, are major players while others are smaller one- and two-person outfits. But all were involved in writing Galway’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Film, part of a larger UNESCO group known as the Creative Cities Network.

Galway City and County Council were also involved in the bid – the City of Film designation was actually awarded to Galway City, explains Declan, and it’s being administered by Galway Film Centre.

A core requirement to be a member of the Creative Cities Network is that a city uses “creativity as an economic driving force”, says Declan.

This Network consists of 116 different cities worldwide who are deemed by UNESCO to excel in different creative fields – literature, crafts and folk art, gastronomy, music and media arts, and film. Ireland has two member cities – Dublin for literature and most recently Galway for film.

The UNESCO guidelines also require that cities to reach out to vulnerable people, allowing them to express themselves and to become involved creatively.

“It’s about participation, education, production and job creation – the idea that creativity should be one of the key components behind a city’s development,” says Declan.

Being a UNESCO City of film is helping Galway achieve that by increasing its profile, he explains. While the status confers no automatic advantages; “it’s about how you use it and it’s up to you to make the most of it”.

The bid to have Galway named as a UNESCO City of Film was driven by Lelia Doolan, a woman whose career in film and theatre spans many decades. She first discussed the idea with Declan a few years ago and he felt the proposal was worth pursuing. He had known Lelia since the mid 1980s when, as a student at UCG, he was employed to put up posters for Reefer and the Model, a local film which she produced.

“There was a huge amount of work involved” in Galway’s bid, “and there are a lot of strong-minded people in this business, but everyone worked together,” he says of the process.

Participants spent the best part of a year meeting, learning about UNESCO and finding out what was required to ensure Galway’s success.

“Our bid came from both the city and the county because the county is a film and TV hub.  And we also included the Irish language because it’s so crucial,” says Declan “That mix might have been one reason we got it.”

He cites Jerry Garcia of the American rock band, the Grateful Dead, who credited their success to the fact that they did something nobody else was doing.

“It wasn’t that they were better, but they were different. Galway is like that; we aren’t making epic Hollywood stuff but culturally, we have a lot.”

‘A lot’ ranges from Robert Flaherty’s 1934 film Man of Aran – one of the most influential documentaries of all time – to the work of John Ford whose parents emigrated to America from Aran and Spiddal in the late 1800s. The winner of four Oscars for directing, his most personal film was The Quiet Man.

Galway also has Ireland’s oldest film society and there’s a strong case to be made for saying that modern Irish cinema began in Connemara in the 1970s, thanks to the work of the pioneering Bob Quinn.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport

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From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.

The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.

According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.

Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.

Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.

A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.

However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.

In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.

Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.

Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.

The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.

Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.

Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.

Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Racecourse Park and Ride a non-runner for Christmas in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The lack of a park and ride service this Christmas will drive shoppers out of town at a time when businesses are struggling to recover from months in lockdown, the Mayor has warned.

This is after it was revealed that the City Council has failed to secure an alternative location for the service – with its usual base at Galway Racecourse out of action due to the ongoing vaccination programme.

The service, which had previously operated for the three-week period in the run up to Christmas, enabled motorists to park their cars in Ballybrit and take a return trip by bus to town at a cost of just €2 – taking hundreds of cars out of the city centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Colette Connolly, said it was ‘completely ludicrous’ that it would not be in operation this year, in a city that was already gridlocked with car traffic.

“I think that it is a retrograde step not to proceed with the Christmas Park and Ride because we know what will happen – we’ve seen before what happens at the Corrib Centre around Christmas where traffic backs up and people get stuck in the car park,” said the Mayor.

This would result in shoppers from outside the city avoiding coming in, while others would go to other towns and cities to avoid traffic misery.

“They will go to Limerick or to Dublin, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. They will go to Athlone, because they may as well go there, rather than spend two hours sitting in traffic on Lough Atalia,” added the Independent councillor.

In Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath’s report to councillors, it is stated that “it is looking unlikely that Galway City Council will be able to run the Christmas Park and Ride in 2021”.

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

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