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Spiddal singer-songwriter tuning up for success

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Since she was the ripe old age of 11, Riona Moore has been writing songs.

But it has taken nearly two decades for the Spiddal woman to make those songs a reality.

Riona has made Valencia, Spain her home for seven years, moving over to the traditional home of paella to teach English after finishing her arts degree in Irish and English and completing a TEFL course in Galway.

While she loves teaching, music has always been niggling at her in the background.

“I’m a bit of a strange case,” she reflects over the phone.

“I can’t read or write music, which I’m told is very unusual for a songwriter. I can hear the music in my head and sing it into a little recorder my mum bought me when I was young.”

She describes the process of getting her imagined creation into an actual song as akin to doing a puzzle.

“I sit down beside a musician and I sing how the music should go, I say I want the chords to sound like this, I put harmony over the music, I say I want the violin here, the guitar there. The musician will say where it will work or not – it’s about finding someone who will listen to me and understand how I work to transcribe and transfer what I hear in my head.”

After the song has been digitally recorded, she then goes into a recording studio to have the track remastered with a sound technician.

So far she has released three tracks – Cannot Give Me; My Destiny; Crying Tonight – with plans to produce another shortly and complete her debut album. Two of those tracks were written when she was just 15.

“I have a truckload of songs – at least 20 – waiting to be produced. Because I’m working full-time and composing at night, I don’t have a lot of time left to get them into production, which can take up to three months. I also do all the videos myself, star in them, record them and mix them.”

She has contacted dozens of radio stations around Ireland in a bid to get her music played. She recently got a major boost when Dunkdalk FM picked up several of her tracks for a show highlighting up-and-coming artists.

She is keeping her fingers crossed that her music will be broadcast nearer to home.

“I always used to listen to Galway Bay FM as a kid so hopefully one day they will put my music on air. For me it’s not just about singing – I’m obsessed about the songs and writing.”

She describes her songs as R&B and soul, citing influences as diverse as Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Alicia Keyes in latter years and more recently Emeli Sandé, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Bruno Mars, Usher and David Guetta.

“It depends on my mood, when I was younger I used to listen to Eva Cassidy, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey and Whitney and I adored Walt Disney music. I used to spend as much time as I could singing in my room and composing songs. That’s the great thing about music, it speaks a language that we all understand and helps us feel the moment, very often I play a song that I like over and over. If you are sad it can be the remedy to help take you somewhere else,” she reflects.

“I always get ideas when I go running. I’ll get a clearer idea about the chords. I always sit down in silence when I’m composing.”

The daughter of psychotherapist Breda Moore, who practices in Health and Herbs on Sea Road in Galway City as well as NUI Galway, Riona decided to apply for jobs as an English teacher in Spain after getting on so well with her Spanish students in Galway.

Valencia is now home – and she thoroughly enjoys teaching both children and adults – but that doesn’t stop her harbouring an ambition to become a full-time singer-songwriter.

“Ah, that would be the dream,” she exclaims.

“I have been offered gigs in certain venues. I bought a microphone and a good set of speakers, so I hope to do some live performing. I’m hoping somebody will discover me.”

■ Check out Riona’s tracks through her Facebook page

CITY TRIBUNE

Cyclists and disability groups don’t feel the love for ‘kissing gate’ barriers

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From the Galway City Tribune – Cyclists and disability groups long campaigning for the removal of ‘kissing gates’ on popular routes were overjoyed to see the one at ‘the Swamp’ in the Claddagh removed last week.

But their joy quickly turned to anger when it was returned a few days later. They learned that it had only been taken out to facilitate a private company. Grant Thornton had organised a 5K run along the Salthill Promenade for corporate staff and sports teams.

Gráinne Faller, who organises the Sundays4Safety awareness campaigns in Salthill, said she could not believe how quickly the Council could act to remove, then replace the barrier when bike groups have been calling for their removal for years, only to be met with inaction.

“These gates lock so many people out of our parks and playgrounds. How can we justify blocking access to public spaces? They are ableist, ageist and they block people with buggies and bikes. They really discriminate against parents. And then we learn that the Council is claiming that this isn’t a problem? We wait. And wait. It is not okay. It’s Council-sanctioned discrimination.”

Chairperson of the campaign group Cyclist.ie, Neasa Bheilbigh, said the gates excluded families and people with mobility impairments from using safe active travel routes to school and public amenities.

“To suggest quiet routes through housing estates and parks are not active travel routes, shows a lack of understanding about how people move in our city,” she insisted.

She highlighted the fact that the National Transport Authority (NTA) has committed to providing funding to remove barriers to promote universal access.

“I always feel safer cycling than walking at night, but having to dismount leaves me feeling vulnerable. The Council don’t seem to grasp the needs of people who use non-standard bikes as mobility aids and who cannot dismount or have the strength to navigate through these barriers.”

Liam Ferrie from Menlo said he was long past retirement age but he found his e-bike was a great way of getting around Galway.

“Last Sunday I cycled a total of 28km without any difficulty – apart from a very close pass by a motorist. However, if I had come to a kissing gate I’d have had to turn back as there is no way I could lift the bike through it.”

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for the National Ambulance Service, Reg Turner, said his family cycles along the Terryland Forest park en route to school and they have to manoeuvre a large cargo bike carrying his baby son through a kissing gate.

“My seven-year-old calls them jail gates. She says she is sick of lifting her bike and asks when are they coming to remove the gates. The crazy thing is the forest can be accessed from various other exits and entrances which don’t have these gates.”

At a Galway City Council meeting last July, City Council Director of Services for Transport, Patrick Greene, told councillors the NTA had written to Councils acknowledging that kissing gates were problematic for some users.

He said the NTA was working to come up with a new design for gates that are more accessible for users such as people on cargo bikes, pram users and people in wheelchairs, and the Council would act on any recommendations from the NTA once an alternative was sourced.

He said the City Council was planning to do an audit of all kissing gates across Galway.

Cllr Noel Larkin stated that without kissing gates, housing estates and public parks would be more accessible to vehicles and could result in antisocial behaviour.

Cllr Donal Lyons said motorbikes and other vehicles could access public parks and amenity areas if they were removed and not replaced.

(Photo: A cargo bike stuck at a kissing gates. The City Council removed one in Claddagh recently for a road race but then reinstated it).

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, September 23. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council needs extra loans for home-buying scheme

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From the Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council has had to draw down further loans to keep up with demand for the Local Authority Home Loan Scheme.

At a meeting of the City Council, Director of Services for Housing, Brian Barrett, said they had initially sought approval from councillors for a loan of €4.1 million but such was the demand that they required a further €1.4 million.

A renewed Local Authority Home Loan was announced in December last year and provides for Government-backed mortgages for first-time buyers and ‘fresh-start’ applicants – those who are divorced or separated, or who have undergone personal insolvency or bankruptcy.

The scheme was introduced to provide lower interest rate mortgages to those who are creditworthy but would otherwise find it difficult to access sufficient finance.

Mortgages up to 90% of the value of the property are available, with a limit of €320,000 applicable to Galway. An income ceiling of €65,000 applies to single applicants, or €75,000 in the case of a joint application.

Mr Barrett said since the original scheme was launched in February 2018, 277 applications had been received by Galway City Council and 120 had been approved.

Twenty-three of those loans applied to the Tenant Purchase Scheme for local authority tenants buying-out their homes.

“In February, councillors approved a loan of €4.1 million and we need another €1.4 million . . . we require €5.5 million,” said Mr Barrett, who explained this applied to 2022 applications only.

The funding would be borrowed by the Council from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) raised the issue of joint applications in the case of parents and an adult child who wished to buy out a local authority house under the Tenant Purchase Scheme.

“There is a situation arising where a parent with a son or a daughter in the house and the parent is in their 60s. After getting approved, they go to the Housing Finance Agency and they’re told they can only get a four-year mortgage – they waste five months getting approved to be told that,” he said, explaining that money would not be loaned for a period beyond when the parent turns 70.

“That information was not relayed to the Council,” added Cllr McDonnell.

Dermot Mahon of the Council’s Housing Department said he was aware of this issue, but it was part of the scheme.

“The loan scheme specifies that the maximum age of the eldest borrower is 70,” said Mr Mahon.

Councillors agreed to increase the loan, bringing it to €5.5 million.

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CITY TRIBUNE

City councillors pack their bags for Dutch transport junket

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From the Galway City Tribune – A group of city councillors will be packing their bags for Holland in the coming weeks as part of an initiative to introduce them to revolutionary transport solutions.

A meeting of the Council heard that the National Transport Authority (NTA) was willing to fund a trip for councillors to an area similar to Galway – in order to highlight the possibilities in relation to sustainable travel.

Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that the NTA “feel it would be beneficial for councillors to see some of the solutions implemented in other areas”.

“It would be to a town in Holland, similar in size to Galway, to see their active travel solutions,” said Mr McGrath.

There would be no cost to the City Council, he added.

The meeting heard the trip would last three days and would be open to nine councillors – half of the full Council – while two City Hall officials would accompany them.

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