Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


Hard Knocks Hostel drama hits the web



At a short film screening in Galway last month, actor Chris O’Dowd said Galway could well become the short film capital of Europe. And two budding Galway-based film makers are hoping to prove him right with a new comedy web series due to go online at the end of the month.

Karen Murphy has written, starred and directed the six-part series called Hard Knocks Hostel. Her partner Aaron Woods is the producer.

Karen used the experience of working for over three years in Barnacles Hostel on Quay Street to create the plot.

Set in a badly-run backpacker hostel in rural Ireland, the series follows the lives of two receptionists who are bored to tears working in the facility. To cope with the monotony, they get creative in their dealings with guests, which is fine by the boss, who has a rather unusual philosophy when it comes to the service industry – the customer is not always right.

“The wealth of characters you meet in a hostel – I felt after a year that I was meeting the same person over and over again – but not in a bad way,” smiles Karen.

“The guy with the guitar who bought an extra plane seat for his guitar so he can impress the girls in the canteen; the old man in a beanie who thinks he’s still 20; the stags who run around naked in the halls. Then there’s the types not used to hostels who think they’re in a hotel.”

The entire series was made for just €1,200 after Aaron launched an appeal on the public fundraising website,

They recruited a team of 20 actor and crew members over Facebook and other industry websites and managed to convince the owner of Kilronan Hostel on Inishmore to let them take over the building for four days for free during their off-peak season.

The couple put in 14-hour days to wrap up the shoot in time, barely making the last boat off the island on day five.

Little Cinema, which provides a platform for filmmakers with small budgets by holding live screenings every month in the Róisín Dubh, provided massive support for the project by renting out high quality equipment for the shoot at a bargain basement price.

Little Cinema bought the equipment after Chris O’Dowd, star of the Hollywood blockbuster Bridesmaids and creator of the hit series Moone Boy, handed them €5,000 – two years running.

He was so impressed by the group’s support for fledgling artists that he attended their recent special screening in Nun’s Island Theatre, just days before he was conferred with the freedom of his native Roscommon.

The couple met while at the University of Limerick; Aaron from outside Ennis spent four years studying music and video production while Kildare native Karen studied law after her first choice, acting in Cambridge University, proved too costly.

They then both completed the masters in production and direction at the Huston Film School at NUIG.

While both of them have short films behind them, this is their first major production.

“At some point we’re going to enter the real film industry and you won’t have the choice who you work with or the material. It was kind of a fantasy to get together with a few of my friends and other like-minded people and just get stuck in creatively,” Karen recalls.

Each of the six episodes will last about seven minutes. The series will be available for free online and hope to use it to open some doors when they emigrate to Vancouver in Canada next January.

“Low-budget filmmaking is taking Galway by storm. With filmmaking, the only real way to get started is to go it alone. That’s why I rely on great sites like to help me reach my goal and find the funds for short films I wish to make,” Aaron explained.

“People don’t look up whether you have a masters. It’s your show reel that counts. There’s also quite a lot of nepotism in the industry, so it’s a lot of who you know here.”

At nearly 27, Karen is ready to leave her hostel-working days behind for a career in film. Aaron, who works in the IMC cinema to fund his film ambitions, is hoping his lack of a car won’t hinder him anymore once in Vancouver. He says most of the work in Galway is not accessible unless you have private transport.

They both hope to take advantage of a thriving industry in Canada, where many American companies travel to for shoots due to tax breaks

Hard Knocks Hostel is currently being edited and the episodes will be launched at a special screening in the Quays Bar on November 28. It will then be available on Facebook

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading


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.”

Continue Reading