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Pioneering Eileen Gray inspires Festival show



Ivonne Kalter, Justine Cooper, Kate Ellis, Alex Petcu, Kate Stanley Brenan, Ingrid Craigie, Deirdre O'Leary, Emma O'Kane, Ronan Leahy and Maria Ryan who are appearing in Invitation to a Journey, a show mixing theatre, dance and music which celebrates the life of Eileen Gray. Gray was a leading figure in modern design and her work (pictured) remain hugely popular. PHOTO: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

The life and work of Wexford-born architect and designer Eileen Gray, a key figure in modern design, will be celebrated in Invitation to a Journey, a new show premiering at this year’s Galway Arts Festival.

Invitation to a Journey merges drama, music and dance to give a glimpse into “moments of the life of this very private person”, says theatre director Jim Culleton of Fishamble: The New Play Company who is directing the piece. He’s working alongside choreographer David Bolger of CoisCéim Dance Company, which is providing the dance element of Invitation to a Journey. Music is courtesy of Crash Ensemble with an original score by Deirdre Gribbin and musical direction by Kate Ellis.

“We all work in different art forms but we’re all dedicated to new and original touring work,” says Jim Culleton of the three companies involved in this show, which is a co-production between them and Galway International Arts Festival.

Over the years, Fishamble, CoisCéim and Crash Ensemble had joined forces for successful Culture Night events, and these inspired their collaboration on this major Festival show which will visit Dublin’s Project Arts Centre after its Galway run. They felt that Eileen Gray, “a hugely influential designer and architect, one of the first modern architects, whose influence can be seen today in Ikea’s furniture” would be a perfect subject, not least because her private life was also eventful.

“We were interested in celebrating her life, and because she worked in different art forms, we had the idea of bringing the three groups together,” Jim explains adding that the project has been in gestation for a few years.

Born in 1878, and educated in London, where she was one of the first women to be admitted to the Slade Art School, Eileen Gray moved to Paris as a young adult and lived in France until her death in 1978. There, admirers of her work included such influential modernist figures as the architect Le Corbusier – although he wasn’t above interfering with one of her famous house designs. E.1027, Gray’s villa on the Côte d’Azur, was the first modernist building completed by a female architect. Her wish that it be a decoration-free zone was later flouted by Corbusier who painted garish murals of naked women on its walls, including one sporting a swastika.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune

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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