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Christmas Market to become a city-wide event



The Christmas market is set to be rolled out across the city centre – from Eyre Square to Woodquay and Spanish Arch – this year in an effort to grow the four-week event.

Following concerns raised about damage to the grass on Kennedy Park from the Continental Market on previous occasions, the operators – the Galway City Business Association – has made significant changes to the plans for this year.

They include:

■ A market in Eyre Square with a central location on a reduced footprint and the bier keller moved to the middle of the Square;
■ An ‘enchanted garden’ with lights and decorations at the bottom of the square (the former bier keller site);
■ A Christmas Wonderland in the Eyre Square Centre;
■ Events in the City Library;
■ Amusements and vintage carousel at the Spanish Arch;
■ Weekend crafts and arts market at Woodquay;
■ ‘Christmas on Ice’ skating rink at the Docks;
■ Pantomimes in the Town Hall Theatre.

The business group also hopes to make use of the northern side of Eyre Square (near Supermac’s) and the pedestrianised area alongside the Skeff.

During a presentation to city councillors this week, Áine Feeney, Chair of the GCBA, said the market will run from November 20 to December 22 and an events licence application is being prepared.

She said the committee is “very mindful” of past experiences, and now believe the event should be rebranded as ‘Christmas in Galway’, to incorporate the entire city centre.

“There is a general feeling that the market experience should be transferred throughout the city – to include Shop Street, Woodquay, Spanish Arch and the existing (St Nicholas’) Saturday market,” said Ms Feeney.

She said the bier keller would be moved from Kennedy Park because of the damage that had been caused to the grass by previous markets.

Ms Feeney said the GCBA wants to build on the €16 million which the market has generated for the city since 2010.

The business group is also keen for an investment to be made over the next few years in the city’s Christmas street lights.

The GCBA has paid for and maintained the lights for the last 11 years – last year the bill was €26,000.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) said he believed the words ‘Christmas Market’ were crucial to attracting people to the city, and he believed there are too many food stalls at the market.

He added that he would not like to see everything move to the Latin Quarter.

Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) said his issue is with the management of the market, and a “damning report” previously drawn up which raised health and safety concerns.

He asked if any event company is in place for 2015, as he would strenuously object to the previous one being contracted again.

Cllr Ollie Crowe (FF) said the market has brought huge revenue to the city, and he was delighted that it is being spread throughout the city.

Businessman Anthony Ryan – the former chair of the GCBA and who heads the committee responsible for the Christmas market – said it is not intended that any grass areas in the Square will be used, if possible.

He added that at a meeting with the Health and Safety Authority last year, the market operator ‘ticked all the boxes’, and he had no issue there.

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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