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International line-up for Baboró children’s festival



Flying suitcases, dancing feet, vanishing queens, curious giants and magical music will feature in this year’s Baboró International Arts Festival for Children, which runs from October 17-23.

The festival will present performances from Ireland, Holland, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and the UK. Alongside shows for children and families, there will be seminars, discussions and events for teachers, parents and those involved with children’s arts.

Highlights include The Queen Has Vanished, a tender story from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre companies, Belgium’s Kopergietery. For ages six and older, it features live music and illustration to highlight the power of hope when all seems lost.

Baboró’s Executive Artistic Director, Aislinn Ó hEocha is happy that the Festival’s programme includes work that “is moving and dealing with difficult topics as part of the function of the arts is to help children and adults explore difficult topics by approaching them in a sensitive and safe way”.

Shows such as the Queen Has Vanished and Dream City (ages 8+) from De Dansers in Holland do just that.  Dream City, a high-energy live music and dance show, is a thought-provoking ode to children in war zones, where the ability to dream is essential to survival.

Music features strongly in this year’s programme.

“Children of all ages really respond to music and there is a lot of cross-genre work being made for children, with a lot of live music. It’s really nice to be able to combine different genres in one show,” says Aislinn.

Those combining different genres include Graffiti Classics (ages 4+ Family), a musical comedy cabaret from the UK which aims to make classical music wickedly funny.

Whoosh! (ages 1-4) from Holland’s Alle Hoeken van de Kammermuziek is a heartwarming introduction to the power of live music, where it’s the only spoken language.

I Pack My Bag (ages 2 – 6), a playful show from Austria’s Theater Nuu is full of humour, dance and song as it explores fantasy, imagination and childhood games.

The Secret Life of Suitcases (ages 4+ Family), from Scotland’s Ailie Cohen is an immersive puppet show packed with wit where Larry’s world gets turned upside down thanks to a fantastic, flying suitcase.

Aston’s Stones (ages 3 – 6) from Sweden’s Teater Pero is a reminder of the joy that the simplest things can bring to people’s lives, and about how easy it is to love.

Closer to home, Galway’s Branar present a new bilingual, interactive show for children aged six months to two years. Set in a soft, tactile environment, The Shape of Things is told through puppetry, object theatre, music and sound.

Alice Underground from Youth Ballet West is a modern interpretation of the Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass with acrobatics and high-energy dance.

Ireland’s Theatre Lovett return Baboró with their musical fable, A Feast of Bones, serving up songs, fun, and fright.

Monkeyshine are back with Voyage, an electrifying new play inspired by Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. This physical, visual, and visceral piece has music and songs, specially composed by musical trio, The Evertides.

Children and adults can get creative with Baboró’s Creative Lab at NUIG. This follows the success of last year’s Happy Heart Zone and sees artists Deirdre Rogers and Órla Kelly return to help people use their imagination. Using unusual materials, which have been salvaged from Recreate’s ‘Warehouse of Wonders’, Deirdre and Orla will host a place where people invent and build.

Those who want to explore robotics and engineering in a fun, interactive way can do so with Robotic Adventures from Colmac Robotics, where children can be creative while learning about science, technology, engineering, maths and computer programming.

Baboró exhibitions will include a group show, curated by Maeve Mulrennan of Galway Arts Centre, where Alan Clarke, Louise Manifold, Pawel Kleszewski and Kasia Zimnoch present Becoming: The Adventures of Growing Up.

The Town Hall Theatre will host Juniper, from illustrator Shona Shirley Macdonald, a story of how Juniper and her friends try to make sense of unusual events. One of Shona Shirley’s gorgeous works illustrates the cover of this year’s Baboró programme.

The literature programme is dedicated to the late Teenagh Cunningham, who was Baboró General Manager until her death in August 2015. It will see Galway’s Patricia Forde reading from her award-winning children’s book The Wordsmith. Gemma Breathnach will read from Luán agus an Mórphianó, and Máire Zepf and Tarsila Kruse will facilitate an interactive bilingual workshop based on Ná Gabh ar Scoil.

Films will include Amhrán na Mara / Song of the Sea and The Long Way North.

Talks for grown-ups will feature one of Ireland’s most lauded artists, Laureate na nÓg, PJ Lynch, and Aoibheann McNamara, mother and restaurant owner. She will talk about nurturing a child’s love of food through travel and adventure.

There will be storytelling from PigNut productions and Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, and immersive theatre with Moonfish Theatre.

Baboró’s Relaxed Performances return, for children who might not otherwise be able to attend shows – Whoosh!, I Pack my Bag and The Secret Life of Suitcases will have Relaxed Performances.

And directors from children’s festivals all over the world will attend, seeing work from Irish companies such as Coscéim, whose dance show, The Wolf and Peter premiered at Baboró 2016 and is embarking on a UK tour this winter after programmers from there loved it in Galway.

Full details of this year’s festival are on the website,

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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