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Kardashians and JLo among Galway artist’s fans



A digital artist in Galway has won the admiration of the Kardashian clan as well as the likes of JLo for her unique style of illustration shared over social media.

Since discovering digital art a year ago, Ellen McCann has used it as a way of dealing with bouts of anxiety which have plagued her since her college days.

Back then she was an art and design student in GMIT’s Cluain Mhuire campus for three years and the experience almost put her off art forever, she reflects.

“I just dropped out for personal reasons – Dad’s illness, I wasn’t in the best mind frame, but it’s only now I look back and think maybe that course wasn’t for me,” says Ellen, who is known to family and friends as Nelle, the name she has adopted for her art. x2 Image 2

“My style wasn’t encouraged – it was only a one-way street there. College told me what to do and it just wasn’t me.”

She left to take up a part-time job but found herself fed up and without any hobbies.

One night she decided to check out the social media site Instagram and discovered the world of digital art. Suddenly everything changed overnight.

“It’s like it flicked a switch inside me. It gave me a new energy. I decided to give it a go. It started off slow. You have to work hard at it. The first week I had an illustration of [supermodel and wife of singer John Legend] Chrissy Teigen and almost straight away she ‘liked’ me on Twitter.”

Soon her pieces were shared over the internet and she developed quite a fan following.

Her fascination with the Kardashians is evident in her Instagram portfolio – again and again Nelle has illustrated the buxom siblings, including one of a nude Kim, which earned a ‘like’ from the global celebrity, who shared the image with her staggering 40 million followers.

Images of sister Chloe and mother Kris Kenner have also earned the approval of the family who live their lives out over social media and before the cameras on their reality TV show. Another sister Khloe tweeted on one image: “@NELLE1717 Amazing!!!”

“You can’t help but get sucked into the Kardashian world; you can’t really miss them. I’ve always been drawn to feminine images and I love fashion and beauty. I’m very into feminine empowerment, I think they’re strong figures.

“I know not everything they’ve done in the past is the best, but they’ve created quite a business.”

Two of Ellen McCann's digital images.

Two of Ellen McCann’s digital images.

The fashion designer to the stars Michael Costello ‘liked’ a few of her illustrations. Then one night he asked if she would create an illustration of his celebrity client, singer and actress Jennifer Lopez. She excitedly obliged, immediately working long into the night and the following day.

The designer added the design to his Instagram page and suddenly she had thousands of views. JLo herself also tagged the piece on her own page.

“It was such a boost. You get highs and lows doing this. I spend 80 hours every week just drawing. Sometimes people think you have to just press a button and the work happens. But a piece can take eight to ten hours. When people recognise your hard work, it makes it worth it.”

Translating all that labour into rent money has proven more difficult.

She has been asked to do a number of portraits but for now the 26-year-old native of Moate, Co Westmeath will continue to build up her portfolio, hone her artistic style and hope to get commissions in the fashion and beauty world.

For a regular crust, she works as a graphic designer and social media manager for the Galway-based web design and business training company,

“Sometimes when I say out loud that I work 80 hours a week at this I think what the hell am I doing? But it helps my mind, it puts me at ease. It’s a form of therapy, it’s an escape. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it.”

Nelle’s illustrations can be seen on Instagram, Twitter , Facebook and also Pinterest.

Her website has also just been launched.

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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