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Dance classes keep students in step with university life



There’s something for everyone in NUI Galway’s Dance Society, according to the society’s auditor, Ryan McCarthy, who has extended an invitation to students and graduates of the university to join one of its fastest-growing societies.

Run in accordance with NUI Galway’s Society Office, DanSoc aims to provide a safe and creative space for students and graduates to learn how to dance, exercise or just meet new people while taking part in various dance classes, including Hip Hop, Irish Dancing, Contemporary Dance, Ballet and Jazz.

“As a student society, DanSoc thrives on an influx of fresh, new faces and new talent. If you have a good ear for music, a good eye for design or you pride yourself on your moves, then we have a place for you,” said Ryan, who has been part of the society for four years now.

Ryan himself never envisioned himself joining DanSoc when he started college. But when he went to the Societies Day, the friendliness of the society members and the great music coming from their stand was too much to resist.

He went to one of the classes “as a joke” and “never looked back”. They were so welcoming, he said, and it didn’t matter that he wasn’t a dancer. Four years later, he’s the auditor of the society.

“We have dancers that have been dancing ballet and contemporary since they were four and people who have never danced before. It’s one of those societies that’s just very open to all standards and all walks of life,” he said.

“No matter who you are, you’re going to be welcomed with open arms. And that’s something that we’ve held near and dear for the last few years, and this year, we want to expand it a little bit more.

“We’re thinking of holding workshops for kids and bringing them in and just teaching them a couple of eight-counts and getting them active – getting the brains working a little bit and get that creative side flowing.”

DanSoc has a core group of 40 or 50 dancers who get on really well. But there are several other society members who come to the showcases and events, and show their support at the national competitions.

“It’s a community and that’s what I loved about the society when I first came into it. It was that immediate sense of community.

“It changed my whole perspective on college and the college experience. And it changed my whole attitude towards fitness as well. Fitness does not at all have to be going to the gym and lifting weights and going for a half an hour run and trying to beat 5k or your personal best. It’s fun and you meet some great people.”

Because the society has such a variety of classes – from ballet to jazz, hip hop to Zumba – the society meets seven or eight times a week, with many of its members enjoying the society so much that they go to every class.

And then there are those who don’t dance at all. Surprisingly, you don’t have to dance to be a member of DanSoc. While there are many dancers in the society, who love to perform on stage and compete in the intervarsities, there are many who bring other skills to the table.

“People have this misconception that you have to be a dancer to join the Dance Society. Whereas last year we had people who were DJs, people who were interested in making costumes, people who were interested in doing makeup or hair,” said Mr McCarthy.

“So, this year we’re trying to take advantage of the few people we have at the moment and have them hold workshops, so if you’re not interested in dancing or you don’t want to perform, you can end up doing our DJ workshop, which will probably end up being in collaboration with the DJ Society.

“We’re going to try and get Style Soc in and we hope to do a fashion show that will get them involved. So, we have big plans for getting people involved who aren’t dancers. Because I didn’t think I was a dancer. I ended up fitting into the dance side of things, but I’m very interested in music production, so that’s a route that I’m hoping to go down this year.”

The society has been growing from strength to strength over the last number of years. Two years ago DanSoc had around 700 members. Last year that number was upward of 1,000 members. This year, the DanSoc committee are hoping to increase that number again.

Those interested in dancing, mixing music, having fun or even competing at a national level in one of the six styles of dance can get more information on the DanSoc Facebook page or by emailing

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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