Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


Artist Vicki paints vivid pictures in her memoir



Vicki Crowley

Lifestyle  – Judy Murphy meets the acclaimed artist Vicki Crowley whose colourful early life is chronicled in a new book

When Victoria Xuereb’s answer to a difficult maths question at her boarding school in England didn’t please her irascible teacher, his riposte was to tell her to “marry young”.

The vividly drawn scene is one of the hilarious moments in Vicki’s new memoir, Beyond the Ghibli, which will be launched this Friday at Kenny’s Bookshop in the city’s Liosbaun Retail Park.

Coincidentally, Maltese-born Vicki did marry young, at the age of 20 to Galway engineer Don Crowley, whom she met in Libya, where her family lived and where he was working.

But their marriage was for love and not a reflection of Vicki’s mathematical skills. Those were just fine, which she proved by qualifying as an architectural draughtsman after finishing school, a job that required mathematical precision and numerical skills. Her peripatetic childhood, meanwhile, meant she could speak five languages fluently and had a good grasp of several others, including Arabic.

When Vicki met Don, at the age of 18, they knew they were meant to be together and married two years later, in February 1960.

For the following 10 years, they moved between Malta, Gibraltar, Sierra Leone and Cameroon, as Don’s work dictated.

Finally, in 1970, they settled in Galway with their young family. Vicki has since built a career as a successful artist, working mostly from her studio at the family home in Barna.

This memoir, Beyond the Ghibli, is an account of her life until then, and it’s fascinating

A natural storyteller, Vicki gives a unique take on landmark events such as World War II and post-colonial Africa, while also having an eye for the intimacy of family life. The book’s title comes from an African sandstorm, or Ghibli, that was blowing when she and Don first set eyes on each other.

Born in Malta in 1940, to May (nee Brennan) and George Xuereb, Vicki entered a world at war. Malta, which was part of the British Empire, bore the brunt of German bombing in World War II and her name reflected her parents’ hope of a British victory. She has a vivid recall of those years of danger and food shortage. But it was also a time when unbreakable bonds were forged between family and friends.

Vicki’s father was in India with the British Army, when she was born – she was five and her older brother Jo was seven before he returned.

George Xuereb and his brothers ran a successful business, importing and exporting goods between Malta, Italy Greece and North Africa. He rejoined the business after the war, moving to Eritrea in East Africa – May, Vicki and Jo followed later, travelling by boat through a series of exotic ports.

Their years in Eritrea were idyllic – until Jo and Vicki were sent back to Malta to boarding school.

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading


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.”

Continue Reading