Why Athenry should keep counting their apples

Why Athenry should keep counting their apples

I was shocked over the last days to hear that the Apple plans for Athenry were pulled. In late 2016, I wrote this opinion piece for sin.ie, feels appropriate to share it now. 

Why Athenry should keep counting their apples
By Cathy Lee
We have lived in the recession and stagnation, I think it’s safe to say it was a horrible time. To me seeing construction means success, a crane or a group of workers going about their day – developing our landscape into something more. Maybe there’s something in me trained to believe that growing up in the boom times. That’s why it really surprised me to see that some residents of Athenry have been making noise around the permission granted by the Irish Planning Board to let Apple build a huge development centre in Derrydonnell.
They were arguing against a large development by the huge technical company, Apple. Now I would say from an Irish and international perspective, Apple is a trusted company. We are all fine with using the Apple MAC’s or looking into our own beloved iPhones half the day. But of course there was the tax avoidance earlier this year that made news headlines, briefly. Maybe this form of protest is justified in showing democracy in action. Taking this into consideration, maybe indeed it was right for the residents to object and let these big multi-nationals know we can’t just be walked over here in Ireland.
Really though, on a national scale of things, Athenry doesn’t stand out as the capital of a thriving place for business and technological development. As the famous song seems to tell us, the fields of Athenry are a lonely place to be. Is this lonely unprosperous identity what these protesters are trying to uphold or achieve? No of course it’s not. They’re on about rural protection and noise pollution. I’m not trying to disrespect or insult these protesters, I’m all for a good protest but when it comes to feeble delay tactics that aren’t going to change the overall result in the end, it makes you wonder exactly what is the point?
This plan has been put into place since early 2015 and has met approval standards from Galway City Council among others. The pro-rural campaign aims to keep as much of the authenticity of Athenry as possible. We’ve of course seen across the world how sites that have some uniqueness can lose their originality when they become hugely commercialised. Apple wants to build the Athenry facility on a 500-acre site, which it was expected would be operational by 2017 with the creation of about 150 jobs or more. I just don’t see how this could be a bad thing.
Concerns had been raised over the last months regarding the impact on the local environment including noise pollution and wildlife as well as fears over the data centre’s energy use in terms of access to local water and of course protected species such as badgers and bats. I understand the need for this protection and to put value on your own space and land in sort of patriotic way. Sacrifices must be made though for the sake of progress as well. Protecting bats is all well and good but when your children have to travel to far-away places to get work when the same opportunity could be on their doorstep, this is where the difference lies.
The Apple plans are of course large and are being repeated in other European countries such as Denmark (half way through its current building). These structures need access to the natural spacious landscape and the resources that these sites provide. They are seen to be hard to come by as Apple chose this site for its uniqueness. I know how capitalism works, most likely Apple isn’t thinking about the badgers and bats and more the profits but is that something we are all totally against?
Really the need is for set standards for multi-nationals in terms of green codes and protection, not to ban the idea of economic expansion altogether. There has been a mixed response from the larger public on social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. One tweet exclaimed in anger asking why is it in places where jobs are so widely needed that this is the exact place where protest against developments take place. A Galway city counsellor Peter Feeney explained that this investment in the West of Ireland is something serious in the effort to counteract trends and really be in the running to make the whole island of Ireland a success story in terms of business and not just Dublin taking the vast majority.
This is the single biggest investment in the West of Ireland ever and in my opinion it cannot be ignored. I understand that once something like this in done, there is no going back but this time around I don’t think protesters have a leg to stand on long term. This work will go ahead and delay tactics are just difficult and unnecessary.

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The final year files: February

The final year files: February

I’ve always liked February. (I also enjoy the alliteration of the f’s included in this title, but that’s just me being a grammar nerd).

The reason I like February is that I feel it’s the real starter month, the reality setting month. January sees everyone full of ambition and unrealistic ideas around their new found path to greatness, where February acts as a news flash, a reality check and me being me, I appreciate the honesty of the month.

My final February as an undergraduate was full of firsts and lasts, fun adventures oversees and the always dreaded: week six of college. But this time week six was not as drastically stressful as semester one. I knew what beast I had to tackle, and tackle that beast I did. Somehow it wasn’t as bad as last time; maybe I’ve even matured a little since then? Or not, your call.

So after January seemed to last for decades, February was welcomed – the short and sweet month. Time is everything in the last months of college and it was never felt as much as this month.

First off, we celebrated our final Arts Ball. This saw us all glamorous, celebrating our last opportunity to have a fun night together as college students in that kind of setting. Fancy drinks were had, picture upon picture taken and of course once we found the confidence to take to the floor, as final years, we took it by storm.

We even ended up in the photo-booth with some guys and gals from the journalism class (the day-one huns) and a few friendly extras. It was an amazing night all round and it’s something I’ll never forget. Also to note that we saw bands The Academic play as well as my favourite locals, Bob Skeleton. So it was a busy night that went by as a happy blur.

It wasn’t until the following day that I needed to get my wits together, as I had to catch a flight to the Netherlands – casually after four hours sleep. That I will also never forget, but the citylink bus provided a handy space for a nap as did the flight itself.

Everything went smoothly and we arrived to Amsterdam city centre, a beautiful opportunity to step back in time for me as I recalled visiting the city last year. But really there wasn’t too much time for sentimentality, as there was a mission at hand. The following day, I was to travel 30 minutes outside the city to Utrecht University to attend a Masters open day.

Although sort of stressful at the time, it was fun to go exploring outside the capital and find our destination, which could also potentially be my future place to live and study. It’s a wonderful city, very quaint and picturesque. The college was pretty perfect too, with a lot of exciting potentials to come from such a course. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised how perfect it all could be.

It made me realise how vast the options are. People say degrees open doors but I really think they offer an opportunity for exploration. You just have to be brave enough to take that leap of faith. It’s amazing to think that having my degree and the work I put in can get me onto something else, a little different than originally planned but still pretty fantastic.

The days of a one person one career seems different now, as we embrace change a little easier. I think that’s what visiting Utrecht taught me. So, I’ve decided to keep my options open and potentially apply for this course to begin in September 2019. I think it would be a disservice to my journalism if I didn’t give it my best shot after enjoying it for almost four years of an undergrad.

I will say though that visiting Utrecht gave me a motivational boost to get through my assignments, so much so that I successfully (really successfully) avoided unofficial RAG week in Galway. Where has the old me gone? Am I a real adult now?

To answer that: not quite.

As February came to a close and the first two midterm assignments were handed in, nobody could tell what was just around the corner.

The final year files: December

The final year files: December

Hey there,

First off, happy NYE to you and yours.. I should let you know that I’m changing it to BYE though, in blaming 2017 for the little challenges of life and moving on.

Now before you begin to think that this blog post will be a negative one, think again. I’m going to show you how negative happenings can become fond memories from a simple concept: with the help of Superheroes.

I came to discover in December of my final year at college that I have some superheroes in my presence. I think, although I might be pushing this, I could even be one myself.
So I’ll explain that firstly. We had the exam season which brought with it given stress and also made us hyper aware of the study patterns and actions of others. While this was all going on, I realised everyone is very different in how they handle things. So comparing yourself to others, especially at this time is definitely the worst idea there is.

 

It’s true that everyone has to be their own hero in these circumstances. Let’s face it, it’s just you in the fold up chair in the exam hall. Although you can look across to a familiar face up ahead or a kind looking invigilator, it’s only yourself you can trust to defend you to the last in this situation.

We need to power through the battle in those hours of a challenging exam. We have to become heroes for our own sake. We can then reward ourselves to eating and drinking like Kings after our valiant efforts, which I will admit I enjoyed more than the exams themselves.

So to sum up the exam season until December 15th, I’d say the emotions were mixed with a complete ending high after a beautiful last exam. This final exam of 2017, presented us with a question where we were asked to imagine our own exam question. Like seriously, it was class, even enjoyable if I do say so.

Then December 16th happened. After my amazing high of finishing my first set of final year exams, a little disaster happened. In Galway city centre my purse containing various very important items from cash and cards to keys was taken. From this experience learned that I put too much of my life into one place, and so the loss was fairly substantial that day.

But on that day, a friend/hero saved my despair. Helping me while the incident occurred, lending me cash in order to get home and checking up on me afterwards. I mean, what a hero! I’m also thankful to the friend I met for coffee who helped me chill after it happened and all those who listened to my story via phone/messenger. So a mixed bag of emotions was certainly true at this time.

But we powered through.

Managing to get home in good time, I was met with family kindness also. I think most can recognise that having your purse stolen a week before Christmas with little to no presents bought is a bit of a mess to say the least. I am truly grateful for these heroes coming to my rescue.

So in looking to 2018, whatever the year may bring. I know I have my own certainty in trusting those I hold dear around me. So in terms of a resolution, I want to fix any cracks I begin to notice from the early stages and not find myself with no stable ground to stand on. I must value these heroes and never forget their worth.

This Christmas me showed me that times are changing and that my family Christmas will contain more than one set of family from now on, potentially more even as I spend Christmas in three different houses in 2017. Going forward, I know I’ll have to accept this new reality and leave myself open to whatever this will mean. This personal expansion was a little unexpected and I think maybe I had to lose to gain (literally and figuratively).

I’m prepared for the season to change, my college modules to challenge me and to expect the unexpected in general.

In 2018, I feel it’ll be a year while a lot of things change and the majority of people move on. I’m prepared to follow suit, whatever what might mean for me and those around me. This blog series will soon end along with my college experience, as we are half way through final year if you can believe that.

I hope that you’ll follow me to the end of the journey, wherever we end up.

 

 All images are taken from my personal instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

 

Caca Dana Review: “All the World’s A Cage” – By Niamh Ryan

Caca Dana Review: “All the World’s A Cage” – By Niamh Ryan

By Cathy Lee

The brilliant “All The World’s A Cage” engages and grips an audience from the beginning. On entering the small secluded dimly lit made-to-do theatre at “The Teachers Club” Dublin 1, the actors we had not yet been introduced to were already present on the background of the stage. This set a relaxed sort of mood into the air as the stage was at ground level, we relaxed into the comfortable couch-like audience seats and all I could experience was the feeling of curiosity the entertainment to come, and I wasn’t to be disappointed by this expectation! I would wholeheartedly describe this play as another success for the fantastic playwright and star Niamh Ryan, who plays “Jill”.

The very limited stage space was essential and fitting for the story. This one room setting exposed the character of the lives that the three young women held together, tightly bound in a not exactly cluttered scenario but one of great importance we are to learn to each of them, particularly “Tina” – played by Marie Hegarty. We discover each of these young women, graduated from college in Galway in their early 20s, as we watch the hilarious lack of interaction unfold between the ladies and the driven TV License inspector. We later discover that maybe indeed that this authoritarian figure isn’t the only one of his kind in their lives. Be it boyfriends, co-workers or closed-minded directors – these young women are really up against it.

The placement of individual striking lines in the play were exceptional for me as they were very captivating and allowed me to further my belief in the talents of Niamh Ryan as a script writer. Most of the comedy was physical at the beginning of the play, from yoga fitness moves of “Jill” to exaggerated facial expressions of “Amy” and the improper placement of some lemons and limes. But as the themes of feminism and power in the play further, lines from Tina and of course Jill, played by Niamh Ryan were hard hitting and to the point.

I found the characters to be strong with each possessing a distinct individuality and their own world view, strongly expressed at differing points in the play. Niamh Ryan as “Jill” and Katie Reid as “Amy” were headstrong and often outrageous bringing in heavily the humour and dominance into the scenes but I feel too that “Tina” played a distinct role in balancing out the possibly deeper strength of characters in the acting of Niamh Ryan and Katie Reid.

The play addressed a form of modern day millennial message or struggle and a strong feminine message which broke down barriers of fear in that of being a woman, the restrictions and draw backs found that we see existing here as the story unfolds. Through strong will and true togetherness in friendship, the girls overcome their challenges and the energy within the play can be felt, through the honesty of humour and the true sense of belief in one another as women and as good friends.

Although the play only held one setting due to the limited stage space available, the actors made this work through their use of physical space to depict time passing and also the excellent use of selective lighting present was visually important. Props were used to a good affect, from the weapons to the couch – which both united and separated the girls at different stages. I think this also added some colour to the play in a different way than the strong comedy did, as sometimes the atmosphere was dreary as the sense of hopelessness became present for the characters at their current and somewhat fixed reality.

Niamh Ryan is clearly a multi-talented young woman, with excellent script writing skills and is a capable actress herself included. Having seen another Caca Dana production “Eternal Youth” before,” All The World’s A Cage” showed me a new side to the writing of Niamh Ryan and I think her talents are very diverse with the potential for a vast future to explore, which audiences of all kinds should enjoy.

I wish the team at Caca Dana Theatre company all the best for their ventures stateside and I look forward to their future productions, wherever they may be. You can check out their website here for further information: https://www.cdtheatreco.com/

Review: The Tempest – broadcast from Stratford-Upon-Avon

tempest

By Cathy Lee

On Wednesday January 11, I had the pleasure of seeing a Shakespeare play alongside one of my very good friends. We both share an interest in things literary and I was delighted to be invited to see this showing of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

What was different about this experience of Shakespeare was although I was watching one of his fantastic plays, it wasn’t on stage. In fact it was playing out on a large screen at the Eye Cinema, Galway. I was delighted to discover that despite the sounds of people crunching popcorn around me, it would be a great night of theatre – while not being at the theatre.

The Royal Shakespeare Company of London broadcast their performances to cinemas every couple of months. This really is a modern way to do Shakespeare. Don’t get me wrong, I love the theatre and seeing a play like any regular enthusiast but honestly I really wouldn’t knock the cinema experience. It was something entirely different and the quality of acting and producing was really outstanding. We were in awe of the story itself as it varied from scenes of disaster and hopelessness combined with comedy, love and relationships as well as final friendship in unlikely circumstances.

The story of The Tempest is well known and often told, given the amount of years it has been around for. But whole-heartedly, this version of the play was something utterly different and fell perfectly into the 21st century with the audience responding well also .When the director Gregory Doran, producer Pete Griffin and actor Mark Quartley, who plays the spirit Ariel, were interviewed during the intervals, you could truly see how much work was put into this production. This was something I suppose you wouldn’t get with regular theatre.

The play looks at the exile of a well-respected man, Prospero, played by Simon Russell Beale and his beloved daughter, Miranda (Jenny Rainsford) to an island with some magical qualities. There is a ship wreckage, how we are introduced to the tale, and a lot more people end up on this island than just the man and his daughter. We discover more about the slave to the family Caliban and the friend to Prospero, the magical spirit Ariel throughout the play.

While the play looks at the interaction between the royal sailors and the family, it also thoroughly explores the emotional relationship between father and daughter. The idea of moving on within the life-course and giving over to somebody else’s happiness being put before your own is looked at in detail. The principle character has to come to terms with his past as well as accepting the future that he wishes his daughter to have.

Quality of life is tested throughout the play, as the characters individually wish for more for themselves. This exploration of this puts into question who is good and who is evil in this tale. Described as Shakespeare’s most magical play, the technical enhancement to portray these magical elements played a huge role in the success of the play. It really was the highlight and could be particularly seen with the character Ariel, to bring his magical qualities well and truly to life. This was done through special lighting, voice-changing, colour and a high-tech costume that allowed a completely new portrayal.

I now know that the dusty copy I own of The Tempest will soon be coming off the book shelf as the play is very relevant to modern times. Sometimes the satellite buffered, but overall it didn’t take a lot away from the play.  The experience was quite interactive and you could also tweet your reactions as the play was being broadcast. This was certainly a very modern take on a classic and I had to agree with actor Mark Quartley, that it was something bold and daring that Shakespeare himself would have been proud of.

Photo: credit to site https://www.rsc.org.uk/the-tempest/about-the-play

A Message Amidst The Madness Series: Lessons Learnt.

By Cathy Lee

A lot of not very “every-day” things happened in my every-day life last week.

Let me just say before we get into this that you shouldn’t worry as this won’t be a diary entry.

Last week I began my usual college student routine, doing what I was supposed to be doing. By Saturday, I had had three cover stories in three different newspapers.

I also won first place at a competitive Poetry Slam (but that’s a different story).

The overused term that comes to mind is “that escalated quickly”, but if the shoe fits.

The irregularity of these events come from the content of the cover stories and the fact I was even involved in a Poetry Slam.

The stories were an analysis of changes in property prices in county Dublin, Wicklow and Carlow which were spread across three pages each.

That’s altogether nine pages of house prices, analysis and content coming from a student journalist who doesn’t own a home and isn’t an amazing tenant either.

Also currently I live in neither Dublin nor Wicklow and believe me, not even Carlow.

The point of this post is that life is quite unpredictable and basically I believe you need to take every opportunity, big or small, that comes your way.

I will tell you just how I did that this time around.

Back in December, I met with the editor of the papers to do an interview about the upcoming general elections in Ireland in 2016.

I had completed work experience at their “Wicklow Voice” paper over the summer, a two week stay at a paper I grew to really enjoy writing for.

He was very willing to talk and gave a good interview, I was happy with how it went.

He told me during our talk that day that he would have some upcoming journalism work for me and also mentioned the magic and underused word of “paid”.

Of course, I was delighted at this.

Then, the horror of the words hit like a ton of bricks on the horizon of a ghost estate, (now growing from ghostly to homely I might add).

“Property”.

I sunk at the thought, knowing that property was not in my vocabulary never mind my journalistic abilities.

15,000 homes were sold in Dublin 2015. I looked at the name, location and price of each property.

500 homes were sold in Carlow and 1,300 in Wicklow. That’s nearly 17,000 homes.

With the extremity of excitement in uncovering information such as this, I was beginning to lose faith in terms of whether anybody would even want to read this endless jargon of stats.

I soon learned that I was wrong. People love putting their nose in others homes, to see how the other half lives in some way.

I listed the cheapest and most expensive sales and also the top ten homes in the counties.

People go crazy for these things and such stats, I found out when I saw the spread of numbers and cartoon homes on the published papers.

I also noticed that each other national paper and locals had property stories too, so I didn’t feel alone in my extensive investigative research into the “Property Price Register”.

I think I got the shock when the killer headline was in big bold print and I had the beloved by-line to go with it.

I almost felt like a spreader of my personal property propaganda that the poor readers in Dublin, Wicklow and Carlow had just me to read on the cover of their locals.

Last year in the first year of my journalism course in Galway, a speaker from thejournal.ie told us that you can’t predict what stories readers will like the most.

That idea flashed into my mind all through last week.

I think in this game I’m now invested in, you have to just take it as it comes.

Never say no, nod along and figure out the ins and outs later because a high percentage of the time, you can figure out the best way around a tough situation.

We are born survivors aren’t we? Embrace that inner strength and grab at these chances.

Who knows, maybe when I buy my first home. I’ll know where to go and look, because the stories stick with you, no matter how far gone you are.

Carlow

 

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I attach links to the property stories and photographs of the cover stories, feel free to browse and thanks to Wicklow Voice, Dublin Voice and Carlow People papers.