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Record breaking year for city’s premiere arts event

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Pink aliens run riot in Eyre Square as they explore the city and interact with people in a hilarious way as part of the Galway International Arts Festival. 'The Invasion' was performed by Slovenian street theatre artists, Ljud.

There will be no rest for the wicked-ly good organising team behind the Galway International Arts Festival.

On the back of a record-breaking year for the city’s premiere arts event, key staffers are planning to decamp to Edinburgh to check out work that may appear in next year’s festival.

Artistic director Paul Fahy is also closely involved in touring the hit shows of the festival – Ballyturk moves to Dublin on August 8 before travelling to Cork and London. Last year’s production of Riverrun premieres in Edinburgh before moving to New York.

“It’s very busy. We don’t get a few weeks off as people may think. We have the big mop up from today and then we start the touring for the home-grown productions. It’s great, brilliant to be in a position to bring these to a bigger stage.”

While no figures have yet been collated for the fortnight’s extravaganza, Paul is in no doubt it is the biggest box office smash yet during his tenure at the helm.

“It will be another couple of weeks before we get figures balanced but without question it was our best year. Pretty much everything sold out, there were those red dots all over the place on the board in the box office.”

As for the most memorable shows, Paul singles out Ballyturk as the runaway hit of the fortnight.

“I knew the Redball would be a grower and it would take time for Galway to get it but it really captured the hearts of the people. Pictures of it on the Salthill Prom and on the canal really made Galway look stunningly beautiful. It really captured the imagination.”

He labelled the Janet Cardiff sound installation at the Aula Maxima, called The Forty Part Motet, as “one of the most beautiful things we’ve ever done.”

Room 203 by writer Enda Walsh in the Absolut Festival Gallery managed to really astonish, he recalled.

“This was a gem of a surprise, you have this box in the middle of a large white space and you walk into the 1970s seaside hotel room where you hear the heart-wrenching story voiced by Niall Buggy. It was really special.”

Other big talking points were the Big Top gigs, in particular The National which blew audience members away, he says.

The French production Dragonus and the Slovenian street show The Invasion (both free shows) proved a real crowd pleaser.

As for next year, it’s certainly not too early to say, laughs Paul.

“The rebranding and repositioning of the festival really worked for us. We had a lot of festival directors from international festivals here – from Edinburgh, New York, London, Australia, New Zealand.

“That’s going to really open up possibilities for our own productions and in terms of material,” he explained.

The festival from now on will be on the hunt for new exciting productions to lure west.

“We never repeat ourselves in terms of the programme. You never look at the Box office and say that would go down again. You’re constantly coming up with new ideas.”

Connacht Tribune

Patients vent their spleen over ED chaos

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The new ED at UHG.

Complaints about the Emergency Department of University Hospital Galway (UHG) jumped by 55% last year, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

During 2021, when strict Covid-19 restrictions were in place at UHG, a total of 80 official complaints were lodged about the West’s main public Emergency Department.

But in the following year, official complaints about the Emergency Department at UHG totalled 124.

It represents an increase of 44 complaints, or a year-on-year jump of 55%. It does not include complaints made to frontline staff that were resolved soon after they were made, and only refers to complaints formally assigned to a complaints officer.

A further 13 complaints were lodged but are not included in the total over the two years because the complaints were withdrawn, or consent was not given to progress them.

The increase in complaints to Saolta University Healthcare Group came in 2022, when medical activity returned to pre-pandemic levels, and overcrowding at UHG’s ED dominated the headlines.

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

Connemara pride in teenager just pipped at the post for Eurovision

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Jennifer Connolly on stage at Eurosong.

Connemara singer Jennifer Connolly was basking in the pride of her community this week – even though she was pipped at the post for the chance to represent Ireland in this year’s Eurovision in Liverpool.

Going by the stage name Connolly, the 19-year-old from Leitir Mealláin was the bookie’s favourite going into the Eurosong contest to pick the Irish contestant on RTE’s Late Late Show.

Her atmospheric number, Midnight Summer Night, scored 32 points, losing out by just two points to the Dublin band Wild Youth’s anthemic We Are One.

She scored highest with the international jury with twelve points, compared to Wild Youth’s ten points – but she lost out by two points from the Irish jury and two points on the public vote.

Wild Youth had the edge in the familiarity stakes, having previously supported Lewis Capaldi, Niall Horan and The Script on tour. Their hit Can’t Move On has been a firm Irish radio hit since its 2018 release.

They certainly appeared very confident onstage last Friday. But few could fault Connolly, who after an initial shaky start blew it out of the park with her strong voice.

This is the first year that the winner was chosen by a combination of an international jury, a national jury and a televote.

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

White House hopeful boasts Galway roots

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Galway roots...Steve Laffey.

You wait an eternity for one US President with Galway roots to come along – and then a potential second Galwegian in the White House emerges in quick succession!

Because with earlier confirmation of Joe Biden’s roots embedded deep in Ballinacourty, outside Oranmore, now the first official challenger to Donald Trump’s planned renaissance turns out to be a direct descendant of a North Galway native.

And while Steve Laffey, the former Mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, might not make it to the final shake-up, he has officially declared his intention this week to seek the Republican nomination to run for the White House next year.

Mr Laffey, who lives in Colorado, is the great great grandson of Michael Laffey from Sunhill, Menlough, according to Mountbellew genealogist Martin Curley, who also established President Biden’s Galway credentials – despite the higher-profile claims of Mayo and Louth to his roots.

Mr Laffey served as mayor of Cranston, a city just outside of Providence, Rhode Island, from 2003 to 2007. He also made an unsuccessful bid for Senate in 2006.

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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