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Putting Galway in the picture

Judy Murphy



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.

Connacht Tribune

Gardaí seek help in locating missing man

Enda Cunningham



Gardaí have sought help in locating a man missing in Galway since the end of December.
34-year-old Luke Davoren was last seen in the University Road area on December 30.

He is described as having fair hair, 6ft in height and having an athletic build. He was last seen wearing a grey hoody, brown leather jacket, blue jeans and brown leather boots. He also had a black back pack in his possession.

Gardaí and Luke’s family are very concerned for his welfare and have urged him to make contact.

Anyone with information, particularly any road users with dash cam footage of the Newcastle/University Road areas between 1am – 2am on December 30, is asked to contact Galway Garda Station on 091 538000.

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‘Daredevil’ swimmers are a fatality waiting to happen

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – ‘Daredevil’ winter sea swimmers who dive or jump into the water in places like Blackrock during adverse weather are putting their own lives at risk – and possibly those of rescuers – by their actions, it was warned this week.

Water Safety Ireland have cautioned that the biggest single contributor to drownings in Ireland is what is known as ‘cold water shock’ – a condition caused by the sudden entry into a cold body of water.

There is now growing concern that a copycat trend is emerging with young people – without wet suits – diving or jumping into the sea in stormy or icy-cold weather.

Several people have been filmed on social media in the sea at Salthill during storms – with a number of them taking ‘running jumps’ off the diving tower at Blackrock.

Roger Sweeney, Deputy CEO of Water Safety Ireland, told the Galway City Tribune that people jumping into the sea during storms showed at best a reckless disregard for their own safety and in a worst-case scenario represented ‘a fatality waiting to happen’ for the jumpers – or the persons trying to rescue them.

“Jumping into cold water puts you at risk of cold shock which can result in immediate incapacitation and doing so in storm conditions can make it difficult to get back out of the water safely and promptly before hypothermia sets in.

“Hypothermia leads to the cooling of the muscles needed in the arms and legs to stay afloat. Drownings typically happen when someone over-estimates their ability and under-estimates the risks,” said Mr Sweeney.

Galway Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mike Swan, told the Galway City Tribune, that the key thing for all people who enjoyed the water and the sea was to carefully plan their exercise or hobby.

“Cold water shock is a real danger at this time of year for all swimmers. Be prepared – have your cap, ear plugs, mats, woolly cap [after leaving the water] and towels all in place. Check the weather forecast and check the tides – and never, ever just jump straight into the water during the colder season.”

(Photo: Diving into the water at Blackrock during Storm Bella in December)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Developer banks on boom in rental property market

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The backer of the Crown Square scheme in Mervue is planning an increase in the number of apartments in the development following a review of the economic viability of the project.

The 345 apartments will specifically target the rental market.

Crown Square Developments Ltd, which is operated by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has told Galway City Council that the amended plans will form part of a new planning application to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála under ‘Strategic Housing Development’ legislation.

According to the company, the property market has changed since it was granted permission in November 2019 for 288 apartments in three blocks ranging from five to eight storeys in height.

Mr Rhatigan has now sought planning permission for an 18% reduction in the overall size of basement levels and a reduction in car parking from 1,377 to 1,012 spaces. Cycle parking spaces will increase from 1,110 to 1,200.

The plan also involves the relocation of the vehicular and pedestrian access to the development on the Monivea Road, which will now be closer to McDonagh Avenue. The existing planned access is at the south-easternmost point of the site, but is now planned to move further west.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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