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Family duo turn Headford into little Hollywood



A husband and wife duo from Headford look to be onto a winner with their new comedy drama – what might be described as an Irish twist on the classic cop show, Cagney and Lacey.

Quinn & O’Grady is the story of a hardnosed Garda, Jo O’Grady (Sharon Sexton), who joins forces with local Reserve Garda, Mary Bridget Quinn (Ríona O’Connor), to investigate bizarre happenings in the village of Blackhill.

And it has made the cut for the sixth series of Storyland, the RTÉ collaboration with Northern Ireland Screen – one of five twenty-minute dramas, commissioned from over 200 applicants.

Quinn and O'Grady ... Sharon Sexton as Jo O'Grady and Ríona O'Connor, who stars as Mary Bridget Quinn.

Quinn and O’Grady … Sharon Sexton as Jo O’Grady and Ríona O’Connor, who stars as Mary Bridget Quinn.

Quinn & O’Grady was produced and directed by husband and wife Ivan McMahon and Molly O’Driscoll of Two Hungry Fish Productions, a small operation based in Headford.

The couple met years ago at Roger Corman’s Concorde film studios in Inverin. Both were with TG4, which was in its infancy at that time. Molly operated cameras for TG4 news and Ros Na Rún, where Ivan was assistant director.

She recalls her time working in Connemara with fondness, reflecting on those days she remarked “great bunch of people, great fun”.

The husband/wife duo, both hold a Masters degree in screenwriting. Molly currently lectures in the Huston School of Film and Digital Media with NUIG and Ivan is First Assistant Director on the television drama series Jack Taylor, featuring Game of Thrones star Iain Glen.

“It’s all go,” admits Molly, who manages to balance lecturing with a side of television drama production, feature film production and raising two boys, Robert (10) and Gregory (8).

Indeed this is the second comedy production for RTÉ Storyland by the husband and wife team. They previously created a four part web series – the Outlaw Concy Ryan – for the 2011 RTÉ Storyland competition.

Storyland itself is an award winning commissioning project that aims to bring original stories to audiences and showcases creative talent across writing, acting, producing and directing.

The effort by RTÉ encourages aspiring television and filmmakers by showcasing their work on a multiplatform site which reaches 4.2 million streams per month and 1.7 million downloads.

This year’s finalists include a gripping crime drama Costigan; a chilling dystopian drama Dinosaurs, a dark coming of age drama Hot Knives, and another comedy Smitten – as well as Quinn & O’Grady.

The story was developed with the help of writer Janet Hayes, and together they spent two months drafting the story. When all was preened and perfected the team cut together a production package and sent it off to RTÉ.

Judges were tickled and shortlisted them for the 2016 Storyland Competition.  They were called to interview before panellists from RTÉ and Northern Ireland Screen.

Not ones to be coy, this Galway couple had them “falling over themselves laughing” by the end of it, successfully securing their place in the competition.

“We were thrilled,” Molly says, as she recounts being told the good news.

RTÉ provided €30,000 funding and as such are executive producers of the show. They were instructed to create a pilot with a view to develop a series.

This year’s Storyland format focuses on one twenty-minute production in contrast to previous 2011 format which required teams to create four six-minute productions.

Molly finds the current format more favourable. “It allows room for the character to breathe, time to generate the story, engage the audience and set up the world,” she explains.

One of the most notable aspects of this short comedy drama is the fact that it goes against the grain by boasting two female leads.

“I think we need that; foregrounding female protagonists,” Molly maintains.

The five Storyland finalist productions will feature on the RTE Player website for five months – and with 4.2 million views per month, that a potential of 21 million views.

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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