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Connacht Tribune

The fine art of survival



Galway Print Studio staff: Gerard O'Brien, Padraig Conway, Sioban Piercy, Kerry McClure, Leonie King, Mary Geeleher and David Pierce.

Lifestyle – A not-for-profit studio space which has supported many of Galway’s finest printmakers is in danger of closure unless it can increase its membership and get more public support. They outline the situation to JUDY MURPHY

In these days of relentless selfies, with ‘influencers’ like the Kardashians glued to their camera-phones, arranging and filtering their images for their Instagram followers and their Snapchat stories, it’s difficult to imagine an era when photography didn’t exist.

But in the dim and distant days before cameras and photos, wealthy people captured their likenesses by commissioning artists to paint them.

And many renowned artists who wanted their work to reach a wider audience used to hire engravers to copy their work as prints.

Some of the world’s greatest painters, including Rembrandt, Durer and Goya, were also gifted etchers and created some of their finest work in the medium of print.

Print is a very democratic art form, according to Gerard O’Brien of Galway Print Studio, which is based in the SCUUL Enterprise Centre, Ballybane, on the east side of Galway City. And he points out that, even today, it’s possible to buy a Rembrandt print for “a few thousand euro”, compared to the gazillion millions that an original painting by the 17th Dutch artist would cost.

Galway Print Studio was set 2000 by a group of locally based artists who specialised in printmaking – a technique that traditionally required a great deal of equipment, much of it expensive. Ursula Kelly, Denise McDonagh, LeighAnne Seale and Paula Gleeson were graduates from the Printmaking course at GMIT and needed a space where they could practise their artform. Originally known as Lorg Printmakers, the collective changed its name to Galway Print Studio in 2015.

The founders were supported in setting up the studio by GMIT lecturer and printmaker Sioban Piercy and Gerard was also involved. The space was an invaluable facility for many fledgling printmakers, he says.

“In college, people had access to expensive equipment and had a place where they could work but, as an individual artist, if you wanted to work in different print media, you wouldn’t have enough space,”.  Its members have included such well-known local artists as Sioban Piercy, Declan Holloway, Leonie King and Margaret Irwin West.

Galway Print Studio is a non-profit arts collective for artists who can’t afford to have full print studio facilities – its aim is to support them, while keeping the tradition of fine art print-making alive in Galway.

Full membership costs €360 a year and brings a broad range of benefits. But at present, the Ballybane-based studio, unique in Galway, is in a financial crisis and needs €10,000 to guarantee its survival.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Eyrecourt tune makes it to Hollywood in Jig time



A tune composed to celebrate the twinning of Eyrecourt in south-east Galway with Gouesnach in France is to feature in a new film.

Written by Niall Crehan, ‘The Eyrecourt Jig’ made quite a splash when it was released in 2013 and is still popular in music sessions up and down the country.

Niall had been commissioned to write the tune for the 20th anniversary of the twinning of the two villages, Eyrecourt and Gouesnach.

So, when he had a small part as a fiddler in a TV film called Royal Rendevouz, he started playing the jig.

The producers were so impressed, they added it to the movie soundtrack and it will appear in the credits.

Niall is a member of a celebrated traditional Irish musical dynasty hailing originally from County Clare.

He is the youngest son of whistle and concertina player Vincent Crehan and nephew of renowned fiddler Junior Crehan.

Niall and his brother Kieran ran the Dublin shop Crehan Musical instruments until his early retirement.

Now living in Kildare, Niall is a cousin of publican Mick Crehan, who runs the renowned folk pub in the west end of Galway, The Crane.

Niall and the large army of musicians in the extended family are regular guests.

His brother Dermot got music playing parts on films such as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and he managed to get Niall onto the likes of Downton Abbey.

This latest TV project is the latest foray into the world of film, explains his son Brian.

The story centres on an American chef who is invited to an Irish manor to cook a feast in order to convince the matriarch not to sell the home.

It premieres on Sunday, February 26 at 9pm on the E! Network starring Isabella Gomez, Ruairi O’Connor and Ronan Raftery.

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Connacht Tribune

‘No show’ TDs criticised at County Galway policing committee meeting



A county councillor has launched a stinging criticism of Oireachtas members for their repeated failure to attend County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meetings.

At a meeting of the JPC on Monday, Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher (photographed) said he believed it was time the three TDs on the committee decided if they wanted to remain, or give their place up to someone who would make use of it.

“I am asking the Council to write out to our Oireachtas members and ask them do they want to be on this JPC or not, and if not, let someone else be on it,” blasted the Fine Gael councillor.

This followed repeated non-appearances from TDs representing the Oireachtas on the committee – the three representatives are Deputy Noel Grealish (Ind), Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) and Deputy Catherine Connolly (Ind).

Cllr Maher said the JPC, which sits around five times per year, was deliberately held on a Mondays to facilitate Oireachtas members who were in the Dáil later in the week. He said there were issues being raised regularly that required raising at a national level and it was incumbent on national representatives to bring those matters back to Dublin.

One such issue was the use of CCTV in the pursuit of illegal dumpers and travelling crime gangs, said Cllr Maher who is Cathaoirleach of the County Council.

“I would like our members of the Oireachtas to be taking the message back on CCTV,” he added, as representatives locally were getting no further as a result of data protection laws.

None of the three Oireachtas members were present for this week’s meeting. Chair of the JPC, Cllr Jim Cuddy, confirmed he had received an apology from Deputy Catherine Connolly.

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Connacht Tribune

New Chief Executive for Galway County Council



The new Chief Executive of Galway County Council is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Liam Conneally, who is Director of Services for Economic Development at Clare County Council, is understood to be the preferred candidate following an interview process and has been offered the post.

His appointment will have to be ratified by councillors at an upcoming meeting of Galway County Council.

He will replace Jim Cullen, who was Acting CE for a number of years.

The last permanent CE of the local authority was also a Clare native, Martina Moloney who retired in 2014.

Since then, Kevin Kelly initially and then Jim Cullen have been acting in the roles.

According to his LinkedIn page, Liam Conneally was a senior planner at Limerick City and County Councils for almost three years before taking up the Director of Services role in Clare in 2016.

He was educated at University of Limerick and Queen’s University Belfast.

A native of Ennistymon, he is steeped in the GAA.

“He’s done a very good job in Clare; he’s very dynamic and forward-looking, he will be a good choice for Galway County Council,” said a source familiar with Mr Conneally, and the interview process.

Government completed a review in 2021 about whether it was going to appoint someone permanently into the CE role, which was filled on a temporary/acting basis for almost nine years.

It’s understood that officials in Dublin had delayed filling the role as they wanted to push for an amalgamation of both Councils.

The amalgamation, however, was rejected by local politicians, and has since been put on the back burner.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, is due to retire this year. It’s understood his deputy CE, Patricia Philbin will take the role in an acting capacity until an interview process is completed.

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