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Dementia-friendly singing project to be launched



A new ad hoc choir has been set up in Galway to provide a social setting for those with dementia, their carers and other interested parties, who want to enjoy an hour or two of singing, chatting and meeting like-minded people.

Dementia Friendly Singing is a singing workshop for anyone interested in taking part, and you don’t need to be a singer to get involved.

“The ad hoc choir is my own workshop, which is for whoever turns up to sing,” said Kate Duignan, a community musician running voice workshops in the city.

“We sing together and make music and each time is different. So, as the ad hoc choir workshop leader, I’m beginning to work with people with dementia and their carers and other interested people.”

The idea for Dementia Friendly Singing, according to Kate, came from the Alzheimer’s Society of Britain, which has run a similar programme for over ten years.

“In April, I went to Leeds to follow one of the singing leaders and we visited nursing homes and community centres to work and sing together. When I got back, there was an application for a start-up fund from Dementia Friendly Communities initiative, which is part of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, for dementia-friendly choirs,” said Kate.

“This was a very happy coincidence and I applied, along with the Galway City Partnership’s Imelda Gormally, and hopefully we’ll be starting in the next few months.”

There are a great number of benefits to joining the ad hoc choir, Kate explained. Singing is known to be a great help for those suffering from debilitating memory loss, or problems with brain function.

“Singing reaches parts inside us that are to do with emotional and physical memories and those with dementia react to the act of singing together very well.

“Often memories are recovered as a result of a song being sung. Singing this way is energising and happy making, it’s a wonderful way to socialise and communicate, without pressure or judgement.”

Each person taking part will give something and gain something from the choir, she added, because singing together makes people feel great, and everyone will experience the music differently.

“If you anticipate difficulties, then there will be difficulties, but if we can find a way of creating a group that will meet regularly to sing and be a support for each other in a relaxed way, then everything else will follow,” said Kate.

“My wish for the workshops is that we will find a permanent, comfortable home and that they will flourish and become part of Galway City’s artistic culture in the true meaning of community creativity.”

The current workshop was started in NUI Galway, thanks to Societies Officer Riona Huges, the university’s Choir Society and other societies interested in the project. The group meets on Tuesday’s from 2pm to 4pm in The View, Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway, but Kate has big plans to expand.

“The hope is that there will also be two dementia-friendly singing workshops beginning in November in the east and west sides of the city,” she said.

“And these workshops will be funded via Dementia Friendly Communities initiative, which is part of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and is being supported in the communities by Galway City Partnership.”

If you’d like to get involved, you can join the group on Tuesdays from 2pm to 4pm, or get in touch with Kate by email. To find out more about the workshops in the East and West of the city, call Imelda Gormally in Galway City Partnership on 091 768 305.

“Singing is something we’re born with, and no matter how far down our songs are buried, these workshops are a chance to find our voices again, make others happy and make music together.”

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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