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Ros na Rún star makes his own story

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He’s a soap star who spends half the year in Spiddal and the other in Venice; he’s a journalist who mixes with the stars – and now Domhnall O’Donoghue has drawn the various strands of his life together, mixing them with a vivid imagination, to produce his debut novel.

The man, better known in these parts as the character Pádraig Ó Loinsigh in the TG4 drama Ros na Rún, instantly credits that combination of Spiddal and Venice in helping him get his creative juices flowing ahead of its launch.

And Domhnall will launch the fruits of his labours this week when his first book “Sister Agatha: The World’s Oldest Serial Killer” comes to life.  SisterAgatha

O’Donoghue, who is also assistant editor with Irish Tatler Man magazine, divides his time between spending six months a year in Venice and the other six months on Connemara coastline.

“What’s great about working out in Spiddal is there are very few distractions. So I’m not distracted by city life or going out so that gives me a lot of time to focus as a journalist and indeed my work as an author so to speak,” he explains.

The book, which has been described as a “comic thriller”, follows the pursuit of a 118 year old nun whose final ambition in life is to claim the title of the world’s oldest person and will do whatever means necessary to reach that goal.

He derived his idea from a newspaper article that he read following the death of the oldest woman in the world. The following week he then heard that the next oldest person had passed away.

“In my mind I started going is there someone out there killing all these old people for some reason,” he quipped.

“So that was in my head and along with the religious influences of Venice I mixed the two together.

“Being in Venice really influenced the story because when I came over I had a completely different idea in my head but then for the first few weeks I was just going around to museums, churches and galleries. I really started to take notice of the level of Catholicism and the influence of religious art.

“I have always had the curiosity to strip away the armour when it comes to religious people we have seen like priests and nuns and see the person behind. Nuns and priests have goals too as ridiculous as they may seem like we do too.

“So I decided to give this character, who is a nun, this crazy adventure. I firmly believe life has no best before date and we kind of live in this age of society where we say peak once they go beyond the age of 40.

“I just love the idea that people like Sister Agatha just say you know what I’m never, ever going to give up until I’m six feet under, until then I’m going to keep going,” Domhnall explained.

Domhnall’s primary goal as a youngster was to become an actor. He studied acting in Trinity College and continued on to do a Masters in screenwriting at Dún Laoghaire IADT.

His acting career eventually led him all the way to Ros na Rún, where he is soon to start filming the new season of the show.

“When I joined Ros Na Rún five seasons ago I was very, very nervous because I knew a lot of the actors and the crew were there since the launch 20 years ago,” he recalls.

“But within minutes of me being there I was welcomed into the fold. They just have the most extraordinary ability to make a boy like me from the East feel so warm and welcomed.”

From there Domhnall’s career took a slight change and he diverted his attention to writing during his spare time.

Another long term ambition of his was to become a screenwriting but to help pay the bills he began writing columns for magazines, which has seen him progress all the way to assistant editor with Irish Tatler Man magazine.

It’s a job which has seen him interview famous personalities like renowned actor Kevin Spacey, fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger and top British model David Gandy.

“I never actually saw journalism in my life it was more the screen-writing but I would say they are very closely interconnected, similarly to acting and screenwriting,” he admits.

When asked if he had always seen himself writing a book Domhnall responded: “I always seen myself working in television and film and to develop scripts but the reality is with a screenwriter and scriptwriter is you are essentially asking a producer or a network to give you two or three million quid. That’s a tall ask.

“So I thought while I’m waiting for that to happen, I may as well write something that costs nothing and writing a book costs nothing. I thought this would be a good way to get my work out there and even if no one was to read it I was just happy to feel I had written something and achieved something.

“Luckily enough a publishing company came on board and they were really interested and excited which was amazing.”

When asked about his future plans, “I’d love to think I will continue what I’m doing which is incorporating both acting and my writing. I would love to be able to do that. I’d love to be able to develop Sister Agatha into a film possibly which is something which would really excite me and I’ve had interest from a number of producers already.

“I think the things I do complement each other and I know I’m a much better actor because of my work as a writer and I’m a much better writer because of my work as an actor. Even my work as a journalist when I interview people my actor persona comes into play because that actor’s job is to be interested in characters.”

Domhnall has developed a love affair with Galway and now classes it as his “second home.”

“I absolutely adore there and even though I’m in Italy now I cannot wait to go back to Spiddal next week.”

■ “Sister Agatha: The World’s Oldest Serial Killer” will be released as a digital book on August 3, while the print edition will be released in September.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

€3bn plan for new hospitals at Merlin Park

Denise McNamara

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How the 200-bed elective hospital may 'fit' into the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 1,150-bed acute hospital and a separate 200-bed elective hospital at Merlin Park – costing in the region of €3 billion and taking up to 15 years to deliver – are included in a new report on health infrastructure needs for Galway.

A review of hospital requirements has produced ambitious proposals for the elective hospital – costing around €1.2bn and taking a decade to build – and acute hospital to replace UHG which would take 15 years to deliver.

The so-called ‘options appraisal’ conducted on behalf of the Saolta University Health Care Group concluded that separating acute and planned services – through the development of a purpose-built elective facility – will greatly improve efficiency and patient access by reducing waiting times and cancellations.

It will allow the Saolta Hospital Group to significantly increase the level of day surgery and reduce length of stay for patients.

Currently there are 46,000 people on a waiting list between the two hospitals with a further 14,000 patients travelling to Dublin from the Saolta region every year for treatment.

“The demand capacity gap will grow to a shortfall of 276 beds at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin combined] alone. Do nothing is not an option,” consultants KPMG wrote.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Minister gives go-ahead to army accommodation plan

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The USAC complex in Renmore, which is set to be redeveloped.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 50-year-old building at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa in Renmore is to be renovated to provide additional accommodation for members of the Defence Forces, the Minister for Defence has confirmed.

Minister Paul Kehoe (FG) told the Dáil that the former University Students Administrative Complement (USAC) complex would be redesigned to accommodate 120 persons living in single rooms.

“The rooms are fitted out to a basic standard and ablution facilities are provided communally. The building is nearly 50 years old and does not meet current standards with respect to building constriction methodology, fire prevention measures and energy efficiency,” said Minister Kehoe.

While currently in its early design stages, it is expected that construction work would commence late next year, he added.

USAC is a purpose-built facility constructed in the 1970s to accommodate Officers of the Defence Forces undertaking courses at third level institutes in Galway.

While located adjacent to the barracks in Renmore, it is outside the confines of the barracks and is self-contained with its own access and parking.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Taskforce gets down to work in Ballybane

Enda Cunningham

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Aoife Tully having fun in Ballybane Playground.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Ballybane Task Force is on a mission.

Since the cooperative made up of all major stakeholders set up two years ago, they have set themselves the goal of highlighting the positive work in train in the eastern suburb while providing support for community, voluntary and residents’ groups that currently operate.

They also want to encourage the participation of all locals – new and long-term – in activities while giving support to developing projects and initiatives.

Already the Task Force has spearheaded some tangible results. Last week, a homework club for secondary school students opened and an afterschool service for primary students will begin in January following the recruitment of staff.

There was further good news earlier this year with the redevelopment of the derelict Ballybane Neighbourhood Centre. It is set to be transformed into a revitalised enterprise centre, scheduled to be open in January.

One of the first tasks the group pursued was to identify gaps in resources and services across Ballybane and lay out a blueprint for action.

They secured funding to appoint a consultant to review this in depth and make recommendations.

The results of that needs analysis have just been published. Its overview of the area’s deprivation makes for stark reading.

Ballybane is described as the area where the older housing estates are bordered by Ballybane Road, Monivea Road and the Dublin Road, but excluding the Doughiska development.

It has a male unemployment rate of 25% or over – compared to a 15% average in the city – a lone parent rate of 35% or higher (24% in the city) and a 35% rate of children leaving school in the early years of secondary school (17%). Just one fifth go onto third level, compared to half elsewhere in the city.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this feature on the regeneration of ballybane, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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