Galway City Council Podcast

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As part of #YourCouncilDay 2023, Galway City Council is delighted to launch our ‘Galway City - Your Council’ podcast series, sharing insights on the range of services, projects and people in the local authority.

As the local authority for Ireland’s third largest city - a leader in culture, education and business - Galway City Council is delivering services for a population of 83,456, with a 2023 revenue budget of €113 million, and a capital budget of around €5 billion over the next decade.

Local authorities provide over 1,105 services, across areas as diverse as beach maintenance, dog pounds, health promotion, strategic planning, tourism promotion, and housing supply. This series will introduce some of the people delivering these services, and the valuable work they do every day in our city.

Your Council Day takes will take place on Friday 23rd June 2023. The day aims to highlight the many services local authorities provide and the important role local authorities play in the social and economic life of the area. The day also provides an opportunity to celebrate the people who work in local authorities, the valuable work that they do every day and the difference that they make.  

If you’d like to suggest people you’d like to hear from, or topics you’re interested in, get in touch with

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Brendan McGrath

Episode 1

Kicking off the series, we have an interview with Brendan McGrath.

Brendan has been at the helm of Galway City Council for the past decade and has just retired (June 2023) after 47 years public service. 

Brendan reflects on some of the challenges and opportunities, working in local government.

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Episode 2

This week, on Galway City – Your Council, Fergal meets Aisling Colreavy, the Galway City Council Health Galway City Coordinator. Aisling discusses wellbeing and health, and the impact of good wellbeing and health on society. Aisling is a truly inspirational and knowledgeable speaker!

Aisling is the Healthy Galway City Coordinator and is responsible for coordinating community-led projects and initiatives that aim to improve the health and wellbeing of those living in Galway city.

As Healthy Galway City coordinator, Aisling is involved in the coordination and implementation of targeted initiatives in the areas of healthy eating, physical activity, mental health, sexual health, tobacco free and alcohol harm prevention and reduction, with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities and those at risk of health inequalities.

Healthy Galway City is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) ‘Healthy Cities’ Programme. Supported by Galway City Local Community Development Committee (LCDC), Healthy Galway City is based on engagement, collaboration and the creation of long-term innovative partnerships.

Aisling completed a BA and a MSC in Psychology in the National University of Ireland, Galway. She has worked for over a decade alongside marginalised communities in Ireland and in the UK.

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Episode 3 - Jason Craughwell, Coordinator, Galway Sports Partnership

For Episode 3 of Galway City - Your Council, Fergal is meeting Jason Craughwell, Coordinator with Galway Sports Partnership.

Jason’s role is to promote physical activity and sport for all the people of Galway. He is involved in a voluntary capacity, coaching both Rugby and Hurling as well as a refereeing Rugby across a number of codes including, tag, Rugby League and Rugby Union.

Jason discusses the work of the sports partnership, and the challenges and benefits of keeping physically fit and active.

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Episode 4 - Fergal McGrath, Venue Director Town Hall Theatre

“…Galway’s a great space for the arts… there’s great participation from local arts organisations, local companies – amateur and professional, and audiences.”

In Episode 4 of Galway City – Your Council, we meet Fergal McGrath, Venue Director of the Town Hall Theatre in Galway.

Fergal discusses the city’s international reputation for being a place of culture and creativity, and what makes Galway - and the Town Hall Theatre - magnetic for the arts.

Fergal McGrath was formerly manager of Galway Arts Festival, and Managing Director of Druid Theatre. The Town Hall Theatre, owned and managed by Galway City Council, is Galway's premier performing arts venue, at the epicentre of Galway’s cultural activity, including the city’s major festivals such as the Galway International Arts Festival, Galway Film Fleadh, Galway Theatre Festival, Babaró Children’s Festival, and Galway Comedy Festival.

In a city of circa 80,000 population, annual attendances in the Town Hall Theatre, typically exceed 100,000 - confirming high levels of participation, ownership and support.

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Episode 5 - Pat McPhilbin, Litter Management Unit

This week we meet Pat McPhilbin.

Pat McPhilbin is part of the Galway City Council Litter Management Unit - who are out on our streets every morning from 5am, keeping our city clean and ready for business.

Pat has worked with the team for the past 34 years, and will retire in 2 years’ time, after a long career taking care of our city behind the scenes.

Pat discusses some of the highlights of working with the Litter Management team, and the surprising appeal of having an early start in the wee hours of the morning while most of us are still in our beds.

Pat is also a keen photographer and has a good eye on our city – spotting the daily sun rises, the changes in the city over the last three decades and some of the characters and wildlife that are about in the quiet of the early morning.

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Episode 6 - Sharon Connolly, Senior Engineer

This week in the Galway City – Your Council podcast, Fergal meets Sharon Connolly.

Sharon Connolly is a Senior Engineer in Galway City Council, with responsibility for Environment, Parks and Recreation, and Capital Sports Projects.  

Sharon has worked on projects around the world, including Ireland, the UK and Qatar, and has over three decades experience as an engineer.

Sharon started her career when far fewer women were getting opportunities in STEM industries – Sharon sheds insight on her experiences and challenges, including her move from private consultancy to the local authority sector in recent years.

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Episode 7 - Brian Barrett, Director of Services

This week on the Galway City - Your Council podcast, Fergal meets Brian Barrett

Brian Barrett is Director of Service with responsibility for Corporate Governance and Services; Community; and Climate Change.

For the past 30 years he has worked across the local, regional and rural development sectors in Ireland and Europe, employed in the public, private and community sectors.

Brian discusses what makes Galway City special, including some of the challenges and changes facing the city, the importance of building relationships and collaboration between agencies, and the role of arts and culture in integration and enriching the lives of migrants.


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Ian Brennan Manager LeisureLand

Episode 8 - Ian Brennan, Manager, Leisureland

This week on Galway City – Your Council, Fergal meets Ian Brennan.

Ian is the Manager of Leisureland in Salthill, which recently celebrated its 50-year anniversary.

Ian is a former competitive swimmer, having swam many laps in Leisureland for both training and competitions. He trained as a lifeguard and swimming teacher, and started working in Leisureland in 1993.

Since then, Ian has overseen the growth of the Swim Academy, which teaches over 1,700 children a week to swim in the 25m pool, the learner pool and the leisure pool.

Leisureland also hosts another 1,300 children per week in the schools programme and swimming clubs. The pool also features a thrilling 65m water slide, and a giant Commando Run Inflatable Obstacle Course.

Leisureland is also home to a fully equipped gymnasium, 9-hole outdoor adventure golf, coffee dock, and events centre with over 250,000 people a year coming through the door.

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Episode 9 – Mary Lyons, Retired Staff Member/ Retired Clerical Officer

This week in Galway City – Your Council, Fergal meets Mary Lyons, who retired from Galway City Council in 2012.

Mary worked in the home as a housewife for almost 30 years, before returning to paid work in Galway City Council as a Clerical Officer.

On her return, Mary realised how invaluable her skills and experience running a household, rearing 5 children, and being a foster parent to 23 children, were in the workplace.

She loved working with the public – and found her age and life experience helped her diffuse challenging situations - she understood when a person might be having a hard time in their lives, and could empathise with them and help them resolve their queries. 

In her discussions with Fergal, Mary details the value ‘returning’ employees bring to the workplace, and how much she enjoyed listening to and mixing with younger staff and gaining a new perspective.

From a fear of using a photocopier on day one, to engaging with colleagues and customers and loving her work, Mary is an inspirational speaker!

If Mary’s insights and experiences encourage you to think of joining us in Galway City Council, you can see current vacancies on our website! See

If you are returning to work after a long break, there are a number of options to consider and steps you to take – the Citizens Information Bureau is a great source of information and advice. See

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Episode 10 - Edward Conlon, Housing Liaison Officer

This week Fergal meets Edward Conlon. Edward is a Housing Liaison Officer in Galway City Council.

Housing Liaison Officers play an important role supporting communities in Galway City Council properties, in work as diverse as setting up residents associations, giving advice on tenancies or working on environmental or community initiatives with residents.

Edward works in the East and Doughiska area of the city, with communities in Ballybane, Sruthán Mhuirlinne, An Sean Bhaile and other local authority estates.

Edward came to this role having worked in the community warden section. For 15 years, he enjoyed the interaction with resident groups, working closely with communities, facilitating meetings, and providing advice on amenity grants, sports days and family days.

He discusses the role of a HLO, and some of the activities he engages in with communities in the city, as part of a highly rewarding role that makes a difference in the lives of the people he works with.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts from 22 August, or at

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Episode 11 - Eithne Verling, Director, Galway City Museum

In Galway City - Your Council episode 11, Fergal speaks with Eithne Verling - Director of the Galway City Museum and Co-Curator of the current MONUMENT exhibition.

Eithme is committed to providing an open museum that welcomes diverse communities and engages with them on their interests and stories. She is also committed to presenting compelling narratives through the museum collections, exhibition programme, events and community engagement programme and strategic partnerships. At a fundamental level, growing up as she did in a family of creatives, Eithne has a strong belief in the transformative power of art and creative thinking - essentially the power of the imagination, to find solutions to the challenges that face everyone - big and small.

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Episode 12 - James Reynolds, Conservator, Galway City Museum

#GalwayCityYourCouncil #12 - meet James Reynolds, Conservator, from Galway City Museum.

James works behind the scenes conserving artefacts both on display and in safe storage in the Museum. James discusses the tools of the trade for a conservator and some of the interesting conservation challenges he's come across in his career.

James Reynolds graduated from the Museum Studies Program, at Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada, and the Museum Practice and Management Program at Ulster University.

He has 28 years’ experience in the museum sector both nationally and internationally and has served as a board member with the Irish Museums Association.

He worked on museum related projects for the National University of Ireland, Galway, the Computer and Communications Museum, Galway, the Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa, Charleston Lake Provincial Park Museum, Ontario, Canada, Bon Echo Provincial Park Museum, Ontario, Canada, and is currently working with the Galway City Museum. He has also liaises on a regular basis with the Conservation Department at The National Museum of Ireland.

He has also worked on the Haida and Nisga’a repatriation treaty with the Government of Canada.


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Episode 13 - Emmet Humphreys, Senior Executive Architect

In Episode #13 Fergal meets Emmet Humphreys, Senior Executive Architect, Housing.

Emmet was one of the organisers of the recent Academy of Urbanism/ Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland/ Galway City Council ‘Reimagining the Irish City’ conference in Galway, where there was much discussion about the need for radical reform of our current planning, design and delivery systems to enable Irish cities and towns to survive and prosper in the coming decades.

Emmet discusses potential solutions for Irish cities and towns, and the importance of collaboration and creating a space to discuss and address conflicting needs.

Emmet graduated from Bolton Street, Dublin Institute of Technology in 2001 with a Dip.Arch B.Arch Sc.(Hons). Emmet was a part time Lecturer in Lund University, Sweden 2006-2016 in the Cityspace-Dwellingspace Studio, which was part of ILAUD. He was a Director of his own Practice from 2003-2018. Emmet left private practice to join the Local Authority.

His work includes co-authorship West Gate Vision: Drogheda and Boyle 2040. He is Senior Executive Architect for Galway City Council’s Housing Department working on interdepartmental collaboration for physical development projects. He is also a member of the RIAI Urban Design Committee.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts from Tuesday 12 September.

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Episode 14 - Tom Costello, Dog Warden 

In episode 14, Fergal speaks to Tom Costello, Galway City Dog Warden

Tom started in this role in 2022, as his love for dogs found a new professional outlet!

Tom’s background is in training and general caretaking of dogs and has his own springer spaniels at home.

Tom sheds light on the role of a Dog Warden – and how dogs come to end up in the city dog pound.

He discusses how he helps find new homes for dogs that end up in his care, and what people need to think about when considering getting a dog themselves.

If you’d like to find out about adopting a dog from Galway City Dog Pound, get in touch at (091) 757 094.


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Our Host 

Fergal O’Keeffe is the host of the Galway City – Your Council podcast.

Fergal creates, produces and hosts podcasts for companies including Electric Ireland, DCU, Teachers’ Inspire Ireland, Electric Ireland Superhomes, Six Seconds Europe, Ireland’s Blue Book, Galway City Council, Clare County Council, Longford County Council and Derry City Council. 

Fergal also produces and hosts Ireland’s No.1 travel podcast, the ‘Travel Tales with Fergal’ Podcast, which is listened to in over 110 countries, and has done episodes for the Spanish, Portuguese, Swiss and Greek tourist boards.

Fergal can be contacted on



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