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Charity shop’s fashion upcycling initiative



Fashion is constantly moving forward, with new trends arriving on the scene quicker than we can scrape the money together to invest in them.

But when all the high street stores are selling the same trend at different prices, it can be difficult to stand out – especially if you don’t want to break the bank. That’s where a number of Galway’s local charity shops come in. While trends will come and go in a flash, it’s in the charity shops that you’ll find the kind of fashion that will never die.

“Charity shops have one-off and unusual items, some brand new items, also some vintage if you’re lucky. It’s interesting to see what will come in next,” says Grace Light, Manager of the Cope Galway charity shop located on St Augustine Street.

“You can find quality fabrics such as silk, linen, leather, merino wool and cashmere and designer gear. These things are a fraction of the price you would pay for them new.”

But Cope Galway’s charity shop is sporting more than silk and cashmere at the moment. A recent collaboration with Missy Bonkers clothing designs has seen a number of unique and interesting dresses appear in the shop window.

Missy Bonkers, run by Tina O’Rourke and Alan Fitzpatrick, focuses exclusively on upcycling and redesigning secondhand clothing, creating an awareness of slow fashion that is both individual and unique.

‘The Shirt Project’ is Tina’s most recent design project, which embraces sustainable fashion and innovative pattern design to create unique, one-of-a-kind dresses exclusive to Cope Galway.

“Shirts are one of the main items that are unable to be resold in charity shops after donation, due to general wear and tear. Taking this into consideration, I thought what better way to reuse them than to take them back to their source material and design an entirely new garment?” says Tina.

“Partnering with the Cope shop in Galway allowed the idea to develop into the Shirt Project. Grace, the shop manager, supplied all of the unwanted shirts for the project and will host an exhibition of dresses in the Cope shop window alongside a sewing/up-cycling demo day this Saturday.”

The shop will also host a subtraction pattern shirt dress workshop on Thursday, May 21 from 7.30pm to 9pm. More information can be found at the shop or by calling 091 569715. The unique dresses are currently on display and for sale in the shop.

Not every charity shop has something as unique as the Shirt Project to help them stand out, but many of them have their own way of ensuring their message is heard.

“Over the past few weeks, we had a large number of clothing and accessory donations which were of exceptional quality and great designer labels – all in great, new condition or brand new with tags,” explains Carolyn Herbert, Supervisor with the Galway Simon Community charity shop on Sea Road.

Thanks to these generous donations, the Galway Simon Community was able to completely restock its Sea Road store, giving it a fresh new look for the launch of its ‘Style on a Shoestring’ extravaganza which saw labels such as Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY and Karen Millen on offer for a small price, as well as a number of beautiful vintage items.

“Anyone making a purchase in one of our shops is helping a good cause, as all our profits are ploughed back into the provision of local services,” says Carolyn. The Galway Simon Community currently provides accommodation for over 100 single men and women that, for one reason or another, became homeless.

“At some point over the next few months, we are looking to do some work with upcycling and would be interested to hear from customers who have upcycled any items of clothing or furniture that they have purchased from other outlets,” she adds, proving that the upcycling of clothing is becoming a trend in its own right.

The Galway Simon shops are always in need of good quality items, which can be sold in either the Sea Road or Briarhill shops: “Only with this support can we hope to realise our vision of bringing about a society where everyone has a home appropriate to their needs.”

For more information about the Galway Simon Community, visit

A charity shop generally isn’t the first place you’ll think of when you need to get kitted out for a wedding or special occasion. But Galway’s newest charity shop proves that it’s very easy to find something to suit every occasion if you look in the right places.

“We have just launched a Special Occasion Wear Department which stocks new and pre-loved debs dresses, smart and stylish evening wear, bridesmaid dresses, formal wear for wedding guests, flower girl dresses and beautiful, romantic wedding dresses,” says Gaye Moore, Fundraising Co-ordinator of Gorta – Self Help Africa, a charity which opened a shop on William Street West in November.

Despite being the new kid on the scene, the Gorta shop is really standing out, catering for different sizes and styles.

“A bride can outfit her entire wedding party, including bridesmaids, flower girl dresses and mother of the bride for a very reasonable price,” Gaye explains.

Gorta also provides “a unique service with a large designer dressing room, friendly staff and a colour co-ordinated range of clothes”. And as there is usually only one of each item, each co-ordinated look is unique to the customer.

“The shops provide excellent quality, nearly new, and some new clothes, shoes and accessories, and a wide variety of books at hugely discounted prices. An entire co-ordinated casual outfit including shoes can be purchased for less than €20,” says Gaye.

“The shop provides very good value for those on a limited budget who still wish to look well and dress their family. The shop also provides designer labels at knock-down prices for the fashion-loving bargain hunter.”

For more information on Gorta – Self Help Africa, visit or

Many people see charity shops as a place to put unwanted clothing when you’re making space in your wardrobe for the latest trends and fashion fads.

But thanks to the hard work of staff members, only the best will make it to the shelves, ensuring that you’ll find high-quality clothing to suit even the smallest of budgets, while also helping a deserving charity.

And with so many interesting charity shops to choose from in Galway, there’s bound to be something to suit all tastes.

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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