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3,000 mile journey for message in a bottle



When an 11 years old girl threw a bottle into the Atlantic Ocean off New York State two years ago, little did she believe that it would travel three thousand miles to the West coast of Ireland, where it was found by a visiting scuba diver.

The find was poignant for Rory Golden of the Flagship Scuba Club in Dublin, as the bottle was located close to where he had placed the ashes of a friend some years before.

He was among a group that were on an annual pilgrimage to Aughris Peninsula, Claddaghduff, when the extraordinary discovery was made.

“Every year, I visit a dive site off Friar Island in Connemara, where I placed the ashes of a great friend of mine, Ralph White, who died seven years ago,” he told The Ray D’Arcy Show on Monday.

“He was a Titanic explorer, who went to the Titanic 35 times, and it was his wishes that his ashes be scattered around the world, so I put his ashes into a bottle, put them on the seabed in a little rocky outcome at 20m depth, so they are on a permanent dive, and we visit them every year.”

They were returning from the dive when he spotted a barnacle-encrusted bottle bobbing on the surface of the water.

“That area is riddled with lobster pots and buoys, so you’re keeping an eye out so you don’t get caught in them And about 500 yards away from the island, I saw an object that wasn’t a buoy; I slowed down to see it was a bottle, and we could see that the bottle was floating, and there was a message in it.”

The handwritten note was from an 11 year old girl named Natalie, who was from New York, but was holidaying with her family at the time:

“My name is Natalie, I’m throwing this bottle into the ocean at Quidnet Beach, on Nantucket Island, on August 13, 2013. If you find it, please write to me and tell me you found my 2013 message in a bottle.”

Rory managed to track down a phone number for Natalie, and eventually spoke to her father. He finally got to speak to the author herself on the Ray D’Arcy Show on Monday.

Natalie, who is now 13, throws a bottle into the ocean every summer with her dad.

“We wait for something like this to happen!” she told Ray D’Arcy.

“We’ve never had a bottle go this far – we’ve had them go closer to Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod, or Long Island, but never this far.”

In fact, one of the bottles made its way to the estate belonging to the late Jacqueline Onassis, in Martha’s Vineyard, which is another of her claims to fame.

Rory said that it is a distance of 3,000 miles between Nantucket and Friar Island, but it is more likely that the bottle travelled even further than that in its two year long journey.

“I imagine it’s been wandering in the mid-Atlantic for quite a while – bobbing around, having a little tour, a little exploration, all around the Atlantic. And, it very possibly passed over the wreck of the Titanic, which is really poignant for me,” he said.

Rory, who has was the first Irish diver to visit the Titanic site, is currently making arrangements to have the bottle sent back to Natalie, accompanied with a note of his own outlining all the details of where it was found, the latitude and longitude, and the whole story around it.

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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