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Record breaking year for city’s premiere arts event

Denise McNamara



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.”


‘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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Former hurler has words of wisdom to help through absence of sport

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The sports psychology advice dispensed by performance and wellbeing coach, Tony Óg Regan, is not just geared towards elite and non-elite athletes – it is relevant to a virus-weary general public, too.

Take, for example, the former Galway hurler’s thoughts on the need to be proactive during this global pandemic.

“We have to be proactive around our own health and wellbeing, rather than waiting for a vaccination to drop on your lap or for things to change really quickly around the economy or whatever,” he says.

And his thoughts on consumption of news on social media will be familiar with anyone who has wasted hours down virtual rabbit holes scrolling through threads on Twitter or Facebook or videos on TikTok during lockdown.

“It’s okay to be aware of the news and the case numbers and vaccinations but we can’t be putting 90% or 95% of our energy and focus on that every day, because depending on how we are interpreting that information it could be driving stress and anxiety levels,” he says.

The advice is to be aware of the requirements around restrictions but ‘just don’t let it take up every waking hour and every waking thought’.

“Consciously and subconsciously we could be taking in a lot of news sources. When we scroll online, they reckon we take in 174 newspapers’ worth of information every day. Some of that could trigger anxiety and stress levels so it’s important we’re aware of that, and maybe don’t do things unconsciously.

“So recognise that you’re going on the phone now for 20 minutes, and you’re not on it for two hours and you’ve forgotten what you’re doing and it’s triggered anxiety.

“Focusing on things that we can control and influence and being proactive around health and movement and our conversations, what we’re listening to, what we’re reading. Those elements are so important to regulate stress and anxiety at this time,” says Tony Óg.
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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