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Young musicians tune up for Concert Hall show

Judy Murphy



Athenry Youth Orchestra

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Athenry’s young musicians will add another string to their already impressive bow when they join fellow performers from all over Ireland at the National Concert Hall early next year.

The members of Athenry Youth Orchestra are taking part in the of the 22nd Festival of Youth Orchestras, when they’ll share the stage with some of the other most exciting young musicians in the country – a total of eight orchestras are involved.

Presented by The Irish Association of Youth Orchestras, this event will take place on Saturday, February 11, with performances at 3pm and 8pm – Athenry are on the bill for the later performance.

They have prepared a wonderful programme including Suite for Strings by Joan Trimble and AthenRag by Katharine Mac Mághnuis, the Director of Athenry Music School and a woman of many talents.

Katharine has a first-class honours degree in Music from NUI Maynooth and she trained for over three years as a Suzuki violin teacher. She started teaching violin and academic music in 1992 and has conducted many ensembles and orchestras since then.

In 2007, she teamed up with Helen Farrell to establish the Athenry Music School. Both women are co-directors.

The school, which has has 27 teachers and more than 400 students will celebrate its tenth birthday in 2017.  It offers lessons in classical, traditional and jazz genres as well as having an academic department.

Katharine also founded the Athenry Youth Orchestra in 2007. The original orchestra had just 16 members – today, there are six regular ensembles with over 140 members.

The Music School thrives on an ethos of a fun, with a positive and inclusive approach to music education, and these values also extend to the orchestra. While the orchestra ensembles are housed in Athenry Music School, membership is open to any young musician.

The ensembles are structured like youth clubs – members have many responsibilities, including librarianship, accounts, fundraising (through busking), press duties and setting up and tearing down before and after performances.

The Youth Orchestra repertoire is chosen to appeal to members, with a special emphasis on contemporary works including commissions from composers Ciaran Hope, Emmet O’Connor, James Ross and Brendan Walshe.

The group travelled to Brussels late this year where they performed in three prestigious concerts, including the Offices of the Northern Ireland Executive in association with the Irish Embassy.

The orchestra recently received workshops from the leader of the Irish Chamber Orchestra  Katharine Hunka and members have performed in Kilkenny, Galway City, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, Gort, Bunratty Castle and at the Sixmilebridge Winter Festival.

They have also shared stages with top-notch musicians from across a range of genres, including Zoe Conway, Ailbhe Mc Donagh, Brendan Walshe, Yuki Nishioka, St Patrick’s Brass Band, The Young Singers from Canada and Austrian rock band The Talisman Collection.  And they give regular local concerts.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.


Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley



An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

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NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham



The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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