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Bid for Culture Capital calls for innovative project ideas



Galway’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2020 represents an opportunity for us to come together as a community – to reflect on the uniqueness of our Galway culture and the richness, vitality and diversity of our shared European culture.

More excitingly, this bid represents an opportunity for us to collectively re-imagine and work together to create a better, more vibrant and creative Galway of the future.

This bid is about and involves all of us. It’s about the way we work, play, laugh, sing, create, learn and write. It is about who we are as people, what we do and what we value. It is about the type of Galway we want to be in the future. Over the past two months people have been gathering at ‘Speak Outs ‘and public meetings all over the city and county to share their inspiring ideas, visions, projects and initiatives.

What has unfolded at these meet-ups has been truly inspiring to witness and be part of. Rarely, are we presented with such an opportunity to collectively come together to openly discuss who we are as a people and what is unique or special about the way we live our lives.  The Speak Outs and ideas have been almost exclusively positive, with a focus on transformation, hope and the possibility of what could be.

Starting now

As the weeks have progressed, it has become more and more obvious that there is an appetite in Galway to do something really special.

Every session and Speak Out brings a renewed vigour to the belief that Galway is starting out on the path of something very significant and, regardless of whether we are awarded the title of European Capital of Culture, this process will lead to something truly transformational for our city and county.

The magic of what is happening around the county is spectacular in its simplicity and profound in its possibility.  The process is bringing people together from disparate and disconnected groups, backgrounds and organisations under a common goal or ambition of making Galway the European Capital of Culture.

The message that Galway is sending out to Europe is that we are starting now! We are starting now and when it comes to the decision being made later this year this process will be so alive and so energetic that something special is going to happen in this county regardless of the decision that is made.

Citizen led

The approach and philosophy that is driving Galway’s bid is one that is wildly inclusive and participatory. Over the past three weeks alone, over 380 people have signed up to get involved in the Galway 2020 team.

This group of people came together on Wednesday to form self-organising groups that will work together on organising events, initiating projects and promoting Galway’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture.

The first of these many team meet-ups will take place in the new Galway 2020 community hub which is located in the Cornstore on Middle Street. The new community hub will become the central meeting point and home for the collective dreaming, brainstorming, planning and creating that will take place over the coming months.

Over the coming weeks and months, we are encouraging as many groups, organisations and individuals in Galway to actively get involved in the bid. The Galway 2020 team have created a new online platform that will enable people from all over Galway to upload, organise and promote their own events, projects and initiatives.

The new platform will also enable people who are interested in getting involved in interesting projects or events to sign-up and help make them a reality.

The message we are sending out to everyone, in everything we do is that this bid belongs to each and every one of us. This bid is as much about food, sport, language and innovation as it is about visual art, music or dance.

Challenges and opportunities

One of the greatest challenges for a county that is perched on the geographical periphery of Europe is to constantly remind ourselves of the European dimension to this project.

How can Galway in its own unique way celebrate our shared European heritage and culture? How can we show our European neighbours a better way or a new model?

How can we use our creativity to challenge, highlight and transform the biggest European issues of our time?

As an island nation, we are disconnected physically from our European family and in many ways a similar non-physical disconnect has developed between the people of our city and county.

How can Galway’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture become a uniting force not only for Europe but for the county of Galway itself?

In the coming weeks the Galway 2020 team will be launching a campaign to encourage people to self-organise and create their own Galway 2020 events throughout the county.

We are hoping to kick start a tidal wave of projects and events in Galway which will become living and breathing examples of the ideals of Galway’s new story.

The Galway 2020 project team are looking for projects and events which are bold, collaborative, inclusive, open, European and outward looking.

Together we can make this special. Together we can make this happen.

To sign-up to learn more, stay in touch or get involved, register at and let your mind and heart run free.

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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