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A century at the heart of community’s good health



Some of the current staff at Hayes & Hayes. From left: Tracey Hardiman, OTC assistant; Dawn Lucas-O’Brien, technician; Sylvia O’Rourke, Pharmacist; Noelle Lynskey, Pharmacist; Linda Kavanagh, OTC assistant, Iwona Ostradecka, trainee technician, and Tina Darcy-Gorman, cosmetics assistant. Photos: Hani Marzouk.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets a nonagenarian whose pharmacy has been dispensing lotions and potions for 100 years

Eamonn Hayes was just five years old in 1928 when Lord Lascelles of Yorkshire and his wife Princess Mary visited Portumna. The couple had inherited Portumna Castle and estate 12 years earlier, following the death of Hubert de Burgh Canning, Marquess of Clanricarde.

Princess Mary was the daughter of King George V of England, and their arrival marked the first time a member of the British Royal Family had visited Ireland since the War of Independence.

They called to the local primary school, where Eamon welcomed them. Today, at 93, he clearly recalls their visit and the subsequent report in the Daily Mail about how ‘Eamon Hayes, a bright boy of five, who happened to be at the head of the class, welcomed the couple in his rich brogue’.

It was a proud moment for Eamon, who went on to spend a lifetime working in his local community. Next Wednesday, he will celebrate another proud moment as his family business, Hayes and Hayes Pharmacy, marks its 100th anniversary.

Eamon, a sprightly nonagenarian and walking social historian, lives above the business, which was founded by his father Robert and is now run by his daughter-in-law Noelle.

His wife Kay died over a decade ago – a nurse who later trained as a chiropodist, she worked alongside him in the business from their marriage until retirement.

There have been many changes in the world of pharmaceuticals since Eamon’s father Robert William Hayes, set a medical hall in Portumna in 1915.

Robert – better known as Bobby – was born in Dublin’s Hume Street in 1889, the son of a tailor. He and two of his ten siblings trained as chemists. Bobby and one brother spent several years working in the spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire before returning to Dublin where they briefly ran a business together.

“His older brother was a great chemist, but a bad businessman, and Bobby went to Galway eventually,” recalls Eamonn.

Bobby first came to Birr in 1914 to work as a locum for Golden’s Chemist. They had a sub-chemist in Portumna, where Bobby was based.

His best customer was the Earl of Westmeath, whose mansion was in nearby Tynagh, Eamon recalls. The earl would send in ‘his man’ on a horse and sidecar to purchase bottles of Evian tonic water, the height of luxury at the time.

In 1915 Bobby opened Hayes and Hayes Medical Hall in a building subsequently occupied by Starr’s, which is now vacant.

Finally he relocated to St Brendan’s Street, initially renting and subsequently buying the premises from a Miss Lavin. That’s where Hayes and Hayes is still located, having gone through many changes since.

Bobby was small of stature – he needed a box to step up to the counter, Eamon recalls – but had a large personality and a generous nature.

Older customers fondly remember the taste of liquorice sticks he dispensed to them – there are less fond memories of cod liver oil, which was decanted from large Winchester containers in to bottles and simply labelled with ‘The Medicine’,

Bobby married Kathleen (Mimi) O’Connor from Loughrea after moving to Galway and they had eight children, seven of whom survived to adulthood.

Two followed in Bobby’s footsteps, with Eamon joining the family business after qualifying in 1948. A few years later, the shop was expanded and the name changed to Hayes and Hayes Chemist.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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