Tag Archives: Galway

This morning.

Ryanair tweetz:

Mara the turtle was blown by Storm Lorenzo all the way from the Canary Islands to Galway, Ireland earlier this month.

Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium has been nursing Mara back to health and asked if we could help.

We’re delighted to say she’ll be returning home on board with us very soon.

Mara will be a very special passenger on our Cork to Gran Canaria flight on November 4th along with two members of the Oceanworld team – ensuring she’s returned to the warm waters she needs to survive.

In fairness.

Efforts under way to return turtle to warmer waters (RTÉ, October 2)

Galway City Council tweetz:

The Defence Forces have turned 130 tonnes of sand into 10,000 sandbags which are being deployed as part of a total of almost 20,000 sandbags from three locations in the city.

-Claddagh Hall

-The entrance to Mutton Island Treatment Centre

– By the Aquariam in Salthill


Storm Lorenzo beginning to bear down on south coast (RTE)

Stop that.

Last night.

Eyre Square, Galway.

Members of the French performance company Gratte Ciel (skyscraper in English) preparing for their live performance alongside local musician and performer Anna Mullarkey (standing) at the launch of the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture programme.

Galway 2020 programme.

Pics: Aengus McMahon



Cllr Thomas Welby at a meeting in Oughterard, Co Galway last night; Connemara Galway Hotel; Independent TD Noel Grealish; tweet about the meeting last night

Last night.

A public meeting took place in Oughterard, Co Galway, amid rumours that Connemara Gateway Hotel – which has been closed for more than 10 years – is to be used as a direct provision centre.

The 60-room hotel is being refurbished while a tender process is under way to find locations for new direct provision centres in the west of Ireland.

According to Teresa Mannion’s early morning report on RTE today local councillor Thomas Welby called the meeting while, according to an The Irish Times report by Bernie Ní Fhlatharta,  Cllr Welby told those present that neither he nor any of the other politicians present – including Minister of State Sean Kyne and Independent TDs Catherine Connolly or Noel Grealish – had any knowledge of any plans for the hotel.

Neither RTÉ nor The Irish Times reported this morning on comments that were allegedly made by Independent TD Noel Grealish at the meeting.

However, RTÉ has since reported that Mr Grealish told the meeting that the majority of Africans coming to Ireland are “economic migrants” in the country “to sponge off the system”.

According to a second lunchtime report by Ms Mannion, Mr Grealish also reportedly said they would not be Syrians from what he called “good Christian families”.

This morning, on RTE’s Today with Seán O’Rourke, Ms Ni Flatharta did report on the comments that she recorded as having been made by Mr Grealish and Galway TD Catherine Connolly confirmed Ms Ni Flatharta’s account of what was said.

Ms Connolly, who believes between 750 and 1,000 people were in attendance at the meeting, told Mr O’Rourke:

“It was overwhelming. I found it difficult to get up to the top table where we were sitting.  I went to that meeting, as I do to all meetings really. But I inquired what it was about and I was told it was about an unauthorised development.

“I sat there and listened to it. I have to say, at various stages, it was very troubling – some of the comments made. Having said that, I understood the genuine anger of the people.

“And I sat there and listened. And comments were made exactly as the journalist has outlined. Including that ‘they weren’t Christians being persecuted’ which was, I took a note. ‘We’re not talking about the persecuted Christians’ amongst other comments.

“Now, I have to say, that did not reflect the conflict, the people that were there. But certainly the anger was palpable. I had to use all my energy to stand and get my thoughts together in relation to this matter.

“Now I sit on a Public Accounts Committee and I’m very familiar with it from the money point of view. And I gave out, I tried to correct some of the facts that were given out as facts and because wrong figures were being given.

“…I pointed out that I was totally opposed to Direct Provision as a way of dealing with asylum seekers, that it was inhumane and had caused problems. However, that I was worried about some of the matters that were being commented on as facts and some of the things that were being said.

“I was heckled myself at one or two points. And I reminded people that I was there as a TD in a very friendly town and I must say that the vast majority of people, almost all of them, listened.

“I think that, I’m 100% behind the people if it’s about an unauthorised development, I have no time for unauthorised developments. In relation to this direct provision, I can see where people are coming from, in the sense of the Department of Justice has simply never learned any lessons from debacle after debacle and they’re clouded in secrecy and there’s no openness and accountability.”

Mr Grealish has yet to comment on the matter.

Listen back here

Minister booed as Oughterard rejects direct provision centre (Bernie Ní Fhlatharta, The Irish Times)

Concerns former Galway hotel may house asylum seekers (RTE)

Grealish under fire for alleged ‘spongers’ comments (RTE)

Pics: Teresa Mannion and Rollingnews


In The Irish Times on Friday, September 13, Ms Ní Fhlatharta reported that Mr Grealish specifically told the meeting:

“We’re not talking of good Christian Syrian families who were persecuted and hounded out of their own country by Isis.

“More than likely it will be economic migrants from Africa who are coming here to sponge off us.”

Oughterard row: ‘It’s a little town and we like to keep it the way it is’ (The Irish Times, September 13, 2019)


The Warwick Hotel, Salthill, Galway demolished to make way for a nursing home.

Photographer and musician Aengus McMahon writes:

The Warwick hotel…..memories keep flooding back. So many great nights, as a punter and playing on that stage . I’m now officially a sad old bastard full of nostalgia for my youth.


Aengus McMahon

Above from left: Cameron Keighron (NUIG Students Union VP/Education Officer) Clare Austick (SU President), Brandon Walsh (SU VP/Welfare & Equality Officer)

This afternoon.

NUI Galway Students’ Union are asking Galway homeowners “who rented rooms on platforms such as Airbnb to consider renting to students instead” following the introduction of new regulations for short-term letting in “rent pressure zones”.

Landlords can still rent out rooms in their homes to students tax-free up to a cap of €14,000 per annum under the Rent a Room Scheme.

President of NUI Galway Students’ Union Clare Austick said

“We are asking landlords to advertise their accommodation through our websitesASAP so that students can secure housing now rather than having to wait until the week before lectures begin.

This will provide steady tax-free income for homeowners and a home for NUI Galway students who contribute so much to the local economy. The lack of accommodation here in Galway City has become a serious issue putting access to education at risk for many students.

The option is also available to just rent a room for one semester to a visiting student if homeowners are unsure about getting into a long-term arrangement…”

NUIG Student Pad

Teach Solais LGBT+ resource centre in Galway city

The West of Ireland’s only LGBT social space is in danger of being quietly extinguished.

John Donlon writes:

You might be forgiven for thinking, as you enter its unassuming premises off Galway’s Eyre Square, that Teach Solais is not a hugely consequential space.

Nothing could be further from the truth however, as this humble venue persists as the only LGBT space of its kind in all of the West of Ireland.

The result of years of hard work and planning on the behalf of Amach! LGBT Galway, even now the space is kept open largely by goodwill, blood, sweat and tears.

Its primary aims include providing a sense of belonging and community for LGBT people in the west; a place to come together in non-alcoholic setting. As per its Irish name, the space acts as a lighthouse, guiding lost souls through a stormy sea to safe harbour.

When I caught up with Cameron Keighron, Chairperson of Amach!, they reflected on the hard work that had already been done in bringing Teach Solais into being.

While the venue was secured in 2015, it has only been open since 2017 and has to date relied on Cameron, other Amach! board members and Community Employment Scheme workers to operate.

They’ve worked on providing a full social experience via the centre, by way of meditation classes, a running club, soccer club, self-defence classes and work with LGBT Ireland.

Cameron feels like they are just putting together a lot of pieces that were already there; they’re put together in once space.

He says:

‘We provide a lot of information, especially with how isolated it can be in a rural context; people come in and they have a question, or they need some condoms, we’re there to provide that information in a safe and confidential way that is accessible to them’.

In addition, the space is readily made available to other community groups in the city, including LGBT Ireland, Bi+ Ireland, and Galway Pro-Choice.

Says Cameron:

‘We open the space up for community groups to have a more affordable space and a more permanent space available to them’.

There’s a lot of intersectionality between the cohort that we’re targeting and the cohort that they’re targeting. We’re not just an LGBT centre so you don’t have to be an LGBT group to use the centre or to come in, you just have to respect the ethos of the centre’.

This hard work is all in jeopardy, however, as the space has never been given the core, renewable government funding that constitutes the lifeblood of spaces like this.

Originally set up thanks to a one-off, €25,000 fund from Galway City Council and accompanied by a €45,000 payment from the Maureen O’Connell fund, without regular, budgeted government support the space’s days are numbered.

This need lead them to start engaging with local politicians and other community groups to find out how they were funded. By and large the HSE were funding them, so Amach!
approached the relevant HSE Community Health Organization (Area 2, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon).

Though there was no new funding available the HSE were very supportive and advised them to continue to work with local politicians to contact other avenues of the HSE

Hildegarde Naughton TD helped to organise a meeting with Catherine Byrne Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy.

She suggested that they apply for a grant called Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy. Just before they submitted their application for that, Minister for Health Simon Harris visited the centre where they talked about it, so he too was aware it was going through.

Within days they got an email back letting them know they were unsuccessful, which was disheartening and disappointing for them to say the least.

They were then moved or advised towards applying for funding under Section 39 (Non-Acute/Community Agencies being provided with funding under Section 39 of the Health Act, 2004.) under which a lot of other community or advocacy groups are being funded.

Cameron recalls:

‘We applied for just over €90,000, and originally we were awarded €1,000, upon appealing then they upped that to €5,000’.

‘hey feedback was that the budget they had to work with doesn’t have enough surplus money for the budget that we submitted. It’s not that the HSE is bad or the HSE doesn’t want to fund us. The HSE do, they actually recognise the work that we do.

They recognise that this is saving money in the long term. If we can give people advice, information, it ultimately saves on the health service in the future’.

The impression one gets is of a system which has not kept pace with or allowed for the emergence of new, genuine public resources which have been put together with genuine, long-term grassroots action and devotion.

Says Cameron:

‘The reality is that funding streams like Section 39 haven’t really increased all that much in the last number of years. There’s still the same amount of groups that they were always funding, but now there’s more groups that need funding, but their money hasn’t increased.’

‘The government needs to ring fence core funding for groups like ours in a specific LGBT+ fund that’s protected, that rolls over on a yearly basis. There’s no point in giving us money for one year because in a year’s time we’ll be back in the same position’.

There does seem to be broad political support for the space and securing its future; with a recent public meeting (above) on the topic attracting Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Independent TDs along with representatives from the Green Party, People Before Profit, Social Democrats and Sinn Fein.

A shared sense of multi-partisanship was on display, with the elected representatives present at the time displaying an encouraging outlook regarding the space and its work being more important for the community than any potential political point-scoring.

As much as there is an undeniable hopefulness around the space; Cameron also admits trepidation about the future.

He says:

‘The community are scared. We’ve built this place up to be a vibrant hub for the LGBT community, the first real physical element to visibility for a really under-represented group in the west of Ireland.’

‘People rely on it for a social network, the vast majority of the time, people are coming into the centre; they all take care of each other. It really fosters a sense of family, community, the community that are coming there they really need it. They view this as another home.’

This duality, of a hard job well done but also of a space built on sand would seem to be taking its toll on Cameron and the rest of the Amach! Crew running the space.

‘We all find it really rewarding, the work that we’re doing here. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t like it. It’s also getting to the point that the vast majority of us, myself included, are heading towards burnout. There’s only so many times you can write grant after grant after grant and get a negative response.

It’s really frustrating and it’s really disheartening because we don’t know if it’s us that’s doing something wrong. We don’t know if it’s that the funding stream isn’t the right one. In these situations, the LGBT community in the west of Ireland, a lot of the community groups feel the frustration of you feel like you’re not being heard.’

If you are interested in helping Teach Solais keep its doors open, you can contribute here.

John Donlon is a Galway-based freelance journalist.

Top Pic: Connaucht Tribune