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Family pays tribute to hospitals who saved little Lachlan’s life



A mother led a 40-strong group of family and friends who took part in the Loughrea 8K road race last weekend to raise money for neonatal intensive care units in Galway and Dublin where her son spent six months.

Lachlan Keary weighed just 1lb10oz when he arrived into the world four months early on September 18, 2014. It was touch and go whether he would survive, recalls his mom Kiara.

“He wasn’t breathing when he was born and they managed to resuscitate him. Then a month later he had a bowel perforation due to a variety of other things and needed nine shots of adrenaline to pull through.

“At Christmas he was transferred to Galway and then got pneumonia. He was so, so sick, we got him baptised. He was really, really lucky. It’s amazing what they can do.”

Lachlan spent 14 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Holles Street, Dublin and 10 weeks in Galway. Kiara cannot praise the care they received highly enough.

Staff became like a second family.

“Oh my God, I just think anyone who has had a long experience in hospital will realise how amazing they are. Yes, they’re understaffed, overcrowded but seeing them with your tiny baby, they do everything in their power, not just for Lachlan but all the other babies. They’re just unreal.”

Kiara, a national school teacher in Creagh, Ballinasloe, is on leave from her job to care for Lachlan. He has chronic lung disease due to being on a ventilator for so long. He remains on oxygen at night time. With help from the early intervention team in Loughrea and plenty of physio, Lachlan is managing to sit up and reach key milestones.

Due to his weak lungs, they have to be extremely careful about infection. Dad Tony Keary had just started a plumbing business when Lachlan arrived at 24 weeks.

The couple, who were childhood sweethearts, had only moved back home to Loughrea to start a family two months before from Australia where they had spent two years.

“Talk about a crash, bang, wallop into the world of parenthood. His early arrival is just one of those things they can’t explain. There was no evidence of infection or anything which is good I guess if we decide to have another baby.”

They were lucky enough to be able to stay with a family member in Dublin during Lachlan’s stint in Dublin. When he got pneumonia in Galway, they were able to avail of an en suite parent’s room in the neonatal unit.

“That was a huge help. We only lived a half an hour away but it was too far at that time. To be able to have that is incredible. The whole business of neonatal units is a whole new world. I was totally oblivious to it all but you quickly find out how amazing they are when it matters.”

Last Sunday, 41 family members and friends ran with Kiara and Tony to help raise funds for the two hospitals.

“We have been completely overwhelmed by the support we have received over the last month and we cannot thank everyone for their help and well wishes along the way. We have had support from all over the world. A group of friends in Melbourne also ran an 8k on Sunday to show their support,” she enthused.

“One in ten babies are born premature in Ireland and if we can help just one other family with some support it would be a fantastic achievement.”

The family are very grateful to the Loughrea Athletic Club for allowing them to organise the fundraiser as part of the race. They are hoping to raise around €4,000 to improve equipment in both units.

Donations can be made to 087 782 5324.

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.

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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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