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European Gastronomy bid to be submitted next month



Galway’s hunger to be designated an official European Region of Gastronomy 2018 will come to a head next month with the presentation of the Bid Book to an international jury of experts.

It is hoped that if Galway achieves the distinction it will give international visibility to the quality food on offer in the region

The European Region of Gastronomy (EROG) is not just a culinary award; the programme is designed to link food, hospitality, tourism and culture. Other key areas for the gastronomy project include educating for better health and sustainability.

It is a collaborative initiative which aims “to contribute to better quality of life in Europe by conserving food cultures and stimulating gastronomic innovation.”

The International institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism (IGCAT) is the association body mandated to appraise and award the title to deserving regions within Europe. Titles are awarded to 2-3 regions each year.

The bid is being led by Galway County Council in association with Galway City Council and GMIT. A Steering Committee has been established to lead the bid for Galway. They are currently putting the final touches to their ‘Bid Book’ which will be presented to the European judging committee in March.

The Steering Committe believes Galway and the West of Ireland makes for a strong contender, ticking all the applicable boxes in terms of agriculture, food, gastronomy, culture, arts and hospitality.

Within the EU, Ireland sets the bar for standards in meat and dairy production and is the largest exporter of beef in Europe.

Sitting on the western Atlantic shores Galway has the added benefit of enjoying the freshest fish catch in Europe and is renowned for its seafood.

The City of the Tribes has wide range of restaurants and a variety of cuisines to suit every palate – Spanish, French, Italian, Mexican, Asian and vegetarian, among others. Recent data indicates there are 356 restaurants in Galway.

A bid to become the European Region of Gastronomy 2018 aligns with Galway’s other major bid to become the European Capital of Culture 2020. The city is experiencing a cultural as well as culinary renaissance.

A European Region of Gastronomy title would create ample opportunities to promote Galway and the West of Ireland as well as creating a legacy of improved food quality for future generations while supporting local food producers and food traditions.

An important aspect of the European Gastronomy award is the promotion of health and emphasis is placed on fresh, locally produced foods.

Cáit Noone, Head of the College of Tourism & Arts GMIT, member of the TASTE council of Ireland and European Region of Gastronomy steering committee member, said this as a “chance to change perceptions around food.”

“It’s about attitude and ethos,” she explains, adding, “we want to remind people of Ireland’s food heritage and make sure everybody has access to great food – let’s pay the farmer not the doctor.”

Cáit expresses her firm belief that this platform will improve the lives of the people of Galway (city and county). She outlines their objective to showcase locally produced foods, to connect food producers and consumers, to promote education and understanding, to acknowledge and celebrate Galway’s cultural diversity, to promote a fairer, more sustainable food system and to build a stronger healthier food culture.

The Galway brand of food and culture has been strongly developed over the years with a total of 16 food festivals, and two food trails and tours.

The Galway team will present the official Bid Book to an international jury of experts at the next partner meeting which is taking place in North Brabant, Netherlands in March.

The award ceremony will take place in Aarhus, Denmark in June 2016 where Galway hopes it will be awarded the title as European Region of Gastronomy 2018.

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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