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Family tell of home raid terror



The owners of a County Galway business premises have told of the trauma they suffered at the hands of raiders who stole more than €10,000 from their property shortly after they closed up for the night.

Three raiders entered the Kiltullagh business, which is also the location for the local post office, and held the owners – who are in their 70s – captive for just less than an hour before making away with the cash.

They also inflicted a serious head injury to the son of the couple who operate the hardware and foodstore business in Kiltullagh, just three miles from Athenry.

It was a ruthless attack on a small family business in East Galway and the owners have been left devastated by what has happened.

Frank Duane and his wife Mary were held captive for less than an hour after the raiders burst through the door of their property on which their business premises and post office is located.

It is not the first time that they have been robbed as there was a break in to the premises as it was broken into a year ago.

Frank recalls how both he and his wife were subjected to an aggravated attack in their home and how their son Anthony was left bleeding from a head injury.

“I went into the sitting room and Mary was in the kitchen when the door swung open and people entered. One went into the kitchen and got Mary and the other came into the sitting room and got me.

“As I heard the commotion, I got up and then got this mighty belt across the shin by a pinch bar which was around three feet long. It knocked the life out of me because I did not know what was happening.

“The front door was a bit open but I was hit and knocked back into the couch. The man who hit me stood behind me and didn’t leave for 15 or 20 minutes.

“One man was with Mary in the kitchen and another was rooting around the place and then he came into me as asked me where was the gun left.

“It was obvious that they knew I had a gun. I had to tell them because they were going to hit me again. Once I got it once, there was every chance I was going to get it a second time.

“One of them got the gun but I didn’t know if it was loaded or not. I certainly would not have it loaded.

“They then got Mary and brought her out into the shop to turn off all of the alarms and to get to the safes. It was the longest time ever in my life.

“I was trying to rub my ankles but they wouldn’t let me. They wanted my arms across my chest and wouldn’t let me release them.

“They tried to open the post office safe but that was time locked but then they got to our own business safe which was not time locked. They opened that one and took all the money out of that one.

“Then Anthony came in because he had been alerted to the fact that there was something wrong. He got the word about 10 minutes after the incident taking place.

“He walked in and they clocked him on top of the head with the pinch bar and there was blood streaming off him. They came at him with a hammer and struck him in the shoulder. They hit him around 10 or 12 times around the body after that.

“They made him kneel down on the floor and the blood was pouring out of his head. They wouldn’t let us touch him. We couldn’t even give him a towel to stop the bleeding.

“Then they marched me out to get the keys of the cigarette cabinet so I hadn’t a clue where they were located.

“Eventually they brought Mary and Anthony out and locked us all in a store room. They told us that if we ever came out that they would shoot us. So we had to wait a while until they went.

“Lucky enough there was a key inside to unlock the door to let us out. Otherwise I don’t know how long we would have been there,” Frank said.

Gardaí are monitoring CCTV around Athenry, Ballinasloe and along the M6 motorway in an effort to catch the culprits of the aggravated burglary.

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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