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Burst of colour: local householders with the green-fingered touch



Mary Bennett and her dog Max, in her garden at Dr Mannix Road, winner of the Salthill area of the Tidy Towns.

The English poet, Alfred Austin, put it succinctly when he said: ‘Show me your garden, and I shall tell you what you are.’

The Galway Tidy Towns and Garden Competition 2015 recognises just that – those people who are dedicated to creating the best out of their little green patch.

Winners of the ‘Best Lawns’ category, Sean and Margaret Langan, of Castlelawn Heights, are no exception.

They say the secret to their success is feeding the lawn well, and giving it extra special attention, of course.

“Sean gets down with a screwdriver and takes out the weeds,” says Margaret.

“This year, the weather was so bad that Sean was going to dig it up, but I said: ‘No, just rake out the moss and re-seed it’. It came on great, even better than previous years.”

The bad weather did not derail overall winner, Patrick Mullins from Rockhill Avenue either – he won the ‘Front Garden Competition’ – and says that a variety of colour is the key to his success.

“I never put all the one colour in,” he says.

“I have begonias, geraniums, bedding plants…”

Retired from London, he spends up to an hour in his garden every day – less of a chore, and more of a hobby – but maybe spent a lot more time this year fixing what the wind and rain had damaged.

It is also a hobby for Carolyn Corless in Highfield, who won recognition in the ‘Window Boxes/Floral Display’ category.       When asked how much time she spends in the garden, she says she doesn’t count the hours because she loves it so much.

“I potter around the garden in my worst attire, and I’m a ‘divil’ for trying bulbs and seeds,” she says.

“I mix and match, I like bright colours, pinks and whites.”

Winner of the ‘Best First Time Entrant’ category, Aideen Hurley, Ballyloughane Road, has been gardening all her life, but started to dedicate more hours to it in the last few years.

“I’ve had more time to do it in the evenings,” she says.

“It’s quite colourful, I try to have something in flower all the year round.”

Aideen Ward in Knocknacarra, who won the ‘Best Eco Garden’ award, says that her small front patch of green is “friendly for nature.”

“I use the natural way of gardening, with no pesticides, and also not to have it too perfect,” she says.

“I encourage wildlife with birdfeeders, and one thing will follow the other – no pesticides will encourage wildlife. It’s messy, with lots of natural plants to encourage bees.”

Meanwhile, in the ‘Best Residential Area’ categories, the winners were: Oaklands (20-50 houses), Monivea Park (50-200 houses), and Castlelawn Heights/Ros Na Shí (200 houses+).

Barnacles Hostel was awarded ‘Best Registered Guest House’ while other winners included GMIT, The Ardilaun Hotel, St Mary’s Priory, Western Motors, The Huntsman Inn, Coral Haven Nursing Home, and Hartmann & Sons Ltd.

The ‘Best School Garden’ category was won by SN Bhríde, with Scoil Rois winning the ‘Best Floral Display’. The ‘Best Community Group Project’ prize went to Circle of Life Garden of Commemoration & Thanksgiving in Salthill.

“Galway City Council would like to commend all entrants for their efforts in enhancing their local area,” a spokesperson said.

“The Council acknowledges the amount of work carried out on a voluntary basis throughout Galway City to maintain and enhance the appearance of residential areas and estates.

“Continued support and interest in this local competition, which aims to encourage and promote householders and businesses to take a greater pride and interest in their own gardens, is vital for the further development and enhancement of the appearance of Galway City.

“Galway City Council would like to thank all those that supported the 2015 competition and would encourage more households and businesses to get involved in the Tidy Towns campaign in Galway City.”



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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