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Dutch busker takes to Galway’s streets



Busking has always been a part of Galway’s culture, with a huge variety of street performers gracing the streets every day of the week. In fact, many of Galway’s top buskers have gone on to greatness, with Ed Sheeran, David McSavage and Little John Nee starting off in the City of Tribes.

For many of Galway’s regular buskers, performing in the streets is a way of making a living. One such busker is Holland-native Robin Hey, a folk singer, musician and song-writer who can regularly be found at various parts of Shop Street in rain, hail or snow – quite literally as a photo on the front page of the Irish Independent recently proved.

“That was very cold,” Robin joked, remembering the photo that got him into the national newspapers. When a sudden downpour of hail and snow started on the afternoon in question, Robin decided to just keep playing instead of running for shelter, proving just how dedicated he is to his music.

“I just like to finish my set. When you’re standing out there, you don’t really feel the cold as much. It’s only hard on the fingers.”

Robin’s list of songs includes some much-loved Irish classics like ‘Raglan Road’ and ‘The Wild Rover’ to name a few. These songs go down well with tourists who could spend up to an hour sitting on the ledge of eason’s, listening to the classic Irish ballads.

“The Irish music is known all over the world. I’m a big fan of the Dubliners and the Pogues and I always went to the Dubliners concerts when they played in the Netherlands. My favourite bands are the Pogues, the Dubliners, the Chieftains and the Clancy Brothers. I really like that kind of music so I picked up a banjo and started singing and playing,” said Robin.

As well as performing some much-loved tunes – or much-hated, depending on your tastes – Robin writes his own music. To him, music is his career and his only source of income, so busking and performing are his way of life. He lives, sleeps and breathes music.

“I started busking around ten years ago on my travels. I still travel around sometimes and I’d like to do it more this year. I did more gigs in the beginning, but the pubs are a bit quiet at the moment,” said Robin, whose voice and singing style divide opinions among the public, with some enjoying his performances and others finding it too loud.

“For the past few years music is my only income. See, that’s the reason I busk a bit more these days. I started busking on my travels and sometimes I did it in Holland as well as outside some pubs. It was more fun at the time, but now I make a living of it.”

But discussions have been taking place regarding new bylaws that could be put in place for buskers in Galway, after Dublin City Council’s recent introduction of busking regulations which ban performances that reach noise levels of over 80 decibels and require buskers to purchase an annual permit.

“Galway is famous for its music and busking tradition, however in recent years complaints about street performing to the City Council, An Garda Síochána and the various business representative organisations have increased significantly,” according to the Galway City Council.

The complaints in question relate to “loud, continuous and repetitive noise, obstruction of premises and thoroughfare, busking taking place at night disturbing city residents, and intimidation by some performers soliciting donations”.

Existing bylaws on street performances, which were introduced in 2011, restricted late-night busking, but these regulations do not address the issues that are the main source of ongoing complaints.

“With this in mind, Galway City Council are reviewing the whole area of street performance and busking in the City and considering the possible introduction of a policy and/or bylaws to regulate and encourage street performance in a manner consistent with the overall public interest,” according to the City Council.

The purpose of this review and any proposed bylaws is to “attempt to regulate busking in the City Centre in a managed way, to make street performing a more positive experience for all and to mitigate the problems currently being experienced”.

“At the same time, the importance of street performance and buskers to Galway City’s vibrancy, culture and attraction must be acknowledged,” said the Galway City Council.

Robin Hey has been busking in the streets of Galway for a number of years now, contributing to the city’s popular musical scene. “I think Galway is a great town with music in bars and on the street and acts that make the town unique,” he said.

“I don’t see myself doing something else other than playing music and it’s the only thing that keeps me going. But if they’re going to make it difficult in Galway for buskers to perform, that means I have to leave this town and go somewhere different.”

But he’s hopeful that any bylaws will be fair and allow him to continue with his passion “because I think it’s a great town. But if I’m going to live somewhere else in the future, I would always love to go back to Holland with the banjo for a few songs and a few tunes.”

Whatever the outcome, Robin Hey’s music won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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