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Shahira carves out glittering career for herself in LA

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With her smouldering dark looks, Shahira Barry’s nationality is often called into question – which annoys the LA-based model who is proud of her heritage, and is a ‘Galway Girl’ through-and-through.

The dominant genes Shahira inherited from her Bangladeshi grandfather add to the confusion, as does her name – appropriately meaning ‘famous’ in Arabic.

Not that Yasmin Barry realised what the name meant 24 years ago, when she named her daughter after a warrior princess.

None of this has done Shahira any harm career wise, as her biggest claim to fame has been doubling for reality star, Kim Kardashian, and her sisters, on the E! Channel.

Her maternal grandmother, Nancy Faherty from Leenane, Connemara, fell in love with her grandfather, Abdul, in the UK, where he was a member of the British Navy – but otherwise, she is ‘all-Irish’.

“Some people would say I look mixed, while others say I look Irish, so it depends who you’re asking really,” she told the Galway City Tribune.

“But when I’ve been in the press – particularly when featured online – the comment section will always be full of: ‘She’s not Irish’, and that annoys me because I’m proud of my heritage.

“And, while I would love to learn more about my Bangladeshi roots, I am Irish – everyone in my family is Irish, except for my grandfather; I was born and raised in Galway, so I am a true Galway Girl.”

“I guess, having an Arabic name makes more people question where I’m from, but it can certainly be irritating to have strangers telling you you’re not from somewhere you are from, somewhere you love.”

Shahira’s very normal Galway upbringing with her mum and sister did not diminish dreams of stardom – she spent her childhood between Oranmore, Knocknacarra, and Corrandulla, before settling in Athenry, and was educated in Gaelscoil de hÍde and Calasanctius College in Oranmore.

“I was telling people that I was going to move to Hollywood, before I even knew what it was. And I used to put on performances for my whole estate, and put up flyers for my concerts, at a very young age.”

However, coming from a single-parent family, she was keenly aware that a steady career was the safest choice in life, so after an excellent Leaving Cert, she opted for primary school teaching in ‘Mary I’ College in Limerick.

“The reason I went on to do a Bachelor in Education was more of a ‘Plan B’.

“I am glad that I have my degree, and I am proud of it – who knows, one day I may decide to fall back on it but, for now, my motto is ‘you only live once’ and you have to pursue whatever it is you really want to do, while you have the chance.”

And her big break really did come about by chance when, during a short holiday to Los Angeles three years ago, she was asked to test for Playboy magazine, and was booked onto a music video for the singer, Akon.

“That holiday gave me butterflies in my belly for LA, and the idea that perhaps there were opportunities for me out here if I was to move – because a lot happened for me in just two weeks.”

She loved it so much that she booked a three-month stint in 2013, and finally made a permanent move in 2014.

In fact, Shahira had very nearly gone to LA in 2010 on a J1 visa, but gave up the opportunity to join a girl band.

“The band fizzled out during the summer, and I was gutted I hadn’t gone but, looking back now, I think I would have been too young for LA – it’s a very dangerous place.”

She is living her dream in Beverly Hills now though – a far cry from home in Knocknacarra – where she shares a two-bed apartment with one other. There is 24-hour security, a gym, and a rooftop pool and spa.

“I’ve made loads of friends, but they are all people I meet on set – so we all have crazy schedules, and it can be hard to make them fit together to meet up, because you have to be able to drop all plans at a moment’s notice for an audition or job. Luckily, we all understand that, but it makes it hard to stay in touch.

“It can definitely get lonely at times. I miss having someone to go and do normal things with, like go for walks – often when I go out here, it’s to events and to network, which can be draining when you just want a normal day’s activity and a normal chit-chat.”

She has no special man in her life at the moment, and while her time in LA has made her miss the down-to-earth style of the Irish male, she is more lonely for her pets – sorry lads!

With every life choice there are ups and downs, and Shahira’s experience has been no different. Maybe the down times are eased, somewhat, by the fabulous quality of life in California, and being on first-name terms with celebs?

“I’m working with them all the time, and if I’m not working with them, I’ll run into them at parties!

“It’s strange because when you meet any celebrity, you realise that they are only human, and just like the rest of us. It actually encourages me all time because I think if they can do it, so can I.

“And every day I am inspired to keep chasing my dreams. I don’t get star-struck, but there is definitely a moment when you get home later on and you think – ‘Wow, that’s so weird, I just met so-and-so, and there are people who would give anything to meet them’, or they have millions of followers all around the world but I just spent the day with them!

“I’ve worked with Snoop Dogg a bunch of times now, and he was probably the person I was the most star-struck to meet at first – just because I have been a fan forever.

“My Jack Russell is even named Snoop Dogg, and I was thinking: ‘What if he’s not nice, and ruins my dog’s name’. But the second he walked in, he was so warm and welcoming, and he became a friend immediately.”

Shahira’s biggest job to date, however, is probably her booking to stand-in for ‘reality star’ Kim Kardashian during an E! promo commercial for the upcoming season of their show.

In fact, Shahira stood-in for all of the Jenner/Kardashian females.

She also features as a podium dancer in the movie ‘Straight Outta Compton’ – about infamous rappers NWA – which is released this weekend.

“They [Kardashians] are some of my style icons, so it was cool to meet them in person and, because I’m a fan of their show, I felt like I already knew them.

“I had worked in a Subway commercial, like four months beforehand, and one of the production directors had remembered me and thought I’d fit the stand-in job.”

Shahira is currently taking acting classes, and is working on her American accent, so that she can be more versatile, but has no sights on long-term goals.

“I’m working hard, and I’m delighted with how lucky I’ve been so far, but I think it’s difficult to make long term plans in a town and industry that’s so unpredictable. For now, I’m just having fun riding the roller coaster.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

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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