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Apple asked to ‘pool’ resources



Pool artist's impression of the proposed Apple site.

Ambitious proposals for a 50-metre Olympic-sized swimming pool for Athenry – which would be ‘driven’ by waste heat from Apple’s planned data centre – have been put to the tech giant.

The company has already committed to using renewable energy for its new facility – which is expected to begin operations in 2017 – and to any ‘green’ suggestions from the local community for its 500-acres site at Derrydonnell. Experts believe it would be possible to construct an aquatic centre – with at least a 50m swimming pool – using waste heat from a single ‘data hall’. Apple is understood to be planning at least eight halls for the Athenry site.

It’s understood that by recovering waste heat from the facility, the aquatic centre could save between €200,000 and €400,000 annually.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames described the proposal as exciting, and said she has already put queries to Apple and the IDA.

“This is an exciting proposal and a very positive idea. It would be excellent for the region,” she said.

John Stevens from Lisheenkyle East – who proposed the idea in the first instance – said: “An aquatic centre with at least a 50m swimming pool would possibly use a significant proportion of the waste heat from a single data hall, making it a viable option.

“The data centre is modular in design, with the construction of eight or more individual data halls, which are each self-contained, and to be built over a period of 10 years or so.

“Each data hall has its own electrical and ventilation system, and this would possible make the re-use of waste heat from just one hall very feasible.

“The design of the subsequent data halls need not be modified from existing plans, which are just using ambient air to cool the electronic equipment, and expel the waste heat back to the surrounding area.

“Another option, is to take heat from their second data hall, so this would not slow the construction of their first phase, which they want up and running by 2017.

“From what I understand, they are hoping to have all the planning applications completed in three to six months, and start construction very soon after that.

Energy Consultant Leo Corcoran explained that Apple’s Danish data centre is designed to provide secondary energy to the local district heating system.

“In the case of Athenry no existing infrastructure exists to utilise the available secondary energy.

“While a swimming pool is an option for absorbing secondary energy it is not an ideal application because the heat requirement for a swimming pool would be a tiny fraction of the heat available from the data centre.

“However, if there is a requirement for a 50m pool in the area, and provided the economics of the pool are proven, there is good logic for locating it close to the data centre, if Apple are willing to design their energy system to facilitate heat recovery, the swimming pool would use a small amount of available secondary energy but it would improve the environment credentials of Apple and its commitment to Corporate and Social Responsibility.”

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.

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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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