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Taking a peek at the 2020 projects



Galway’s Capital of Culture 2020 bid book contains 50 different projects that will take place during the year, with half of them to be held outside of the capital.

Other projects that were submitted but not developed enough in time for the application will also be nurtured over the next few years while the bid team is also open to accepting fresh projects as nearly a third the budget has yet to be committed.

Here are five of the most ambitious earmarked for Galway’s stint as European Capital of Culture in four years’ time.

Middle Island by Druid will be the company’s first European collaboration in its 40-year history.

Directed by Garry Hynes and starring Marie Mullen with design by Francis O’Connor, Middle Island is based on Testament, a novella and play written by novelist Colm Toibín which tells the story of Mary’s life after the death of her son, Jesus.

The performance starts on Rosaveal Pier in Connemara and then moves to Inis Meáin by boat, with the audience part of the journey as they embark on the sailing with the troupe.

The piece will involve ten professional actors and 20 performers drawn from the local community.

“The line between spectator and participant will be blurred as the audience journey mirrors that of countless exiles heading to strange and foreign lands, not knowing what to expect,” according to the team.

“Mary’s life of exile and fear will be explored along with themes of displacement, peripherality, migration, indigenous cultures, minority languages, multilingualism and religion.”

The project will be staged on the Isle of Corsica where local participants will be sought.

Druid is also working with Theatre Cymru Wales to research minority European languages.

Hope It Rains is a project which aims to change our attitude to Galway’s unpredictable weather in a region where it rains 225 days a year

Dancer and choreographer Ríonach Ní Néill, who has a background in urban geography, will invite people to collaborate and create weatherproof projects that inspire wet weather activity and innovative design for rural and urban locations.

She will design playgrounds and explore green infrastructure, water management, renewable energy, landscape and heritage.

“Using the three principles of Exchange – Play – Change, Hope It Rains aims to effect a cultural change in our relationship with Galway’s weather, so that, by 2020, Galway will be the place to come to because it rains – and blows.”

The project connects experts in art, design, sport and science from Germany, Sweden and France with citizen inventors to create a programme of projects to make Galway’s people and places more weather and climate resilient, and in effect “weather-proof” the whole Galway 2020 programme.

One of the aims of the project is make 40 of Galway’s 63 playgrounds more weatherproof and weather-interactive by 2020, by introducing at least one element to enable outdoor play, physical activity and social interaction year round.

A rain-propelled musical kinetic drainpipe system will harvest water for shopping centres and retail warehouses, which will counter noise and air pollution while capturing a scarce commodity.

Wind-powered melodic musical instruments will be integrated into wind Farms at Spiddal and Moycullen, transforming the wind-farm site into a kinetic musical sculpture.

Mirrored Landscapes will see artist John Gerrard create three major new sculptures.

The pieces consist of a 100 metre pavilion covered in highly reflective mirror, allowing the building to melt into the landscapes of the River Corrib in the city, Connemara and Santander in Northern Spain.

Each sculpture is connected to a local power source, hydroelectric, wind or sun energy.

The Santander Pavilion will subsequently tour to other European locations in 2021 and, partnering with the Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art (TBC) and the Simon Preston Galley in New York, the Galway International Arts Festival would tour the two ‘mobile’ objects to Texas and connect them with wind and solar resources.

These pieces will have major international impact and will become a ‘destination’ visual art experience for people. “It will inspire and amaze in equal measure,” according to the programme.

The fourth project is Spiritus, which will be based at the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, celebrating its 700th anniversary in 2020.

It has three main elements to it – the opera written for amateur participation, Noyes Fludde; Ceol Naofa, a festival of sacred music, and a residential performance partnership between Resurgam Choir Ireland and the German company Elbipolis.

A production of Dialogues des Carmélites is being developed with RTÉ orchestras, quartet and choirs, involving mass participation among the public.

Cellisimo Music for Galway is a ten-day festival dedicated to the cello.

Kuros Torkzadeh, a local Galway county luthier, will design and craft a cello from local bog oak and sheep gut strings.

The festival will collaborate with and commission Irish and European ensembles, soloists and traditional music group while soloists from Zagreb, Croatia, be the resident ensemble.

Cellissimo will reach out to new younger audiences by promoting ‘classical clubbing’, a trend which has seen classical music performance moved from concert halls into venues more associated with dancing and drinking.

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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