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Book aims to help kids rediscover simple games of the past



A new children’s book penned by a woman based in Oranmore aims to peel children away from screens, tablets and consoles and help them rediscover the joys of their imaginations.

Mary Rose Keane – the woman behind the innovative book Up Up & a Play – is aiming to instil children with wonder, adventure and cultivate healthy doses of creativity in the children of today.

The Donegal woman – currently living in Oranmore with her husband Brendan and her two children Thomas (5) and Jonathon (1) – wants the children of tomorrow to rediscover the games of yesterday.

“The inspiration for the book came from watching my eldest boy Thomas play. He was about two and a half at the time. Despite lots of fancy toys I could see that he got most fun from very simple things, like playing chalk games, gathering and painting stones, playing with sticks, cardboard boxes and mud,” she explains.

Mary Rose grew up on the slopes of the Glenties and spent her youth creating games and playing among the elements, reflecting upon her own youth and the type of childhood that children experience nowadays, she set about compiling a compendium of creativity of sorts.

“Children still gravitate towards natural resources like mud, sticks and stones and old fashioned fun and games. It occurred to me that you seldom see children playing some of these games anymore. This inspired me… to preserve some of the past and ensure that children have an appreciation for the simple things in life,” she says.

So she set about writing a book to help children learn to play again, away from the glare of technology.

The journey was a fruitful one. “I honestly loved doing every bit of it, so it didn’t feel like work. It took me two and a half years to write, paint the illustrations and prepare the crafts,” explains the author.

The culmination of two and a half years work has seen the creation of a beautifully illustrated and written book that offers over 80 activities and crafts to reignite children’s imaginations in an age where even a two year old can navigate an iPhone or a tablet.

Something the author can undoubtedly relate to.

“My one year old has a keen interest in smart phones. He managed to order two king size memory foam mattresses from Groupon at the tender age of ten months on my birthday… I gave him my phone to distract him while trying to stuff his mouth with porridge and he decided to do a little online shopping while having breakfast,” quips the author.

Her book successfully recaptures the wonderment and innocence of youth whilst helping forge creative between adults and children alike.

“[Writing the book] made me think about my own childhood. We played outside all day everyday during the summer holidays. We played outdoor games, did lots of skipping and cycling. We made up games and created things from natural resources.”

And the publication has a heavy Galway influence in that only the designer of the new book was located outside of the county. Mary Rose mentioned in particular Julia Dunin, ‘a really talented Galway based photographer who really got my vision for the book and helped make it happen’.

She acts as both the author and illustrator, exemplifying the type of creativity she wants to foster in the youth of today.

Her book is comprised of seven chapters that help parents pry their tech savvy children’s eyes away from flat screens everywhere.

The book includes chapters on the great outdoors, chalk and skipping games, picnics, games for rainy days, seasonal ideas covering the likes of Halloween, Christmas and Easter as well a list of crafts to engage even the littlest mind.

It succeeds in tapping into peoples’ reserves of nostalgia. Parents will enjoy recounting tales of Red Rover, Kick (or Tip) The Can to their children, allowing children to play the games their parents did.

According to the author this book is about “encouraging everyone to leave down the screens and look and enjoy the world around [them].”

The book is available in both Charlie Byrnes Bookshop in the City and in ‘Books n More’ located in Oranmore. There are paperback and hardback editions.

However, if you’re unable to pry yourself away from the screen just yet the book is also available from or

■ For further information on the book and author visit

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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