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Flood-hit pub unlikely to open for months



The Townhouse Bar on Quay Lane is one of a handful of businesses still closed in the wake of the ferocious storms which hit after Christmas.

Its roof blew off with the wind, while water poured through the front door in the floods. During the second storm, they managed to keep the floodwaters at bay only for it to seep up through the toilets and sinks.

Owner Neela McPhail says it will be May at the earliest before the venue will be opened again. All the electrics have to be replaced as do the heating and refrigerating systems, sound system, floors and fire proofing, not to mention the roof.

They are putting in flood measures to prevent a repeat of the devastation.

“I’m petrified to put an estimate on it. We’re waiting for the insurance to sign the paperwork. It will certainly be a six figure sum,” she reflected.

The flooding which occurred was a once-in-40-year event. The real issue for residents and businesses in the area is the drainage, Ms McPhail believes.

“My rates cost €500 a week. In October, November and February, you’d be lucky to turn over €2,000 in the week so there’s no possible way of sustaining that cost. People say ‘but you have a great summer’. But eight weeks doesn’t float 52 on those costs,” she remarked.

“We have got very little to no support from the Council. I asked for sandbags before the second flood – I had 40 myself sourced privately and I was told ‘who’s going to fill sandbags at this time?’.

“I had an absolute, complete and utter fit when they turned around and gave us 35 sandbags between five businesses. You pay your bins, you pay to clean up the street, you pay your rates and your water and they don’t even give you sandbags.”

She recalled how the Council responded to her complaints about a smell from the sewerage by sending out a man armed with a one litre bottle of drain cleaner.

When she kicked up a stink, they eventually sent out six engineers at the beginning of last Summer to flush the entire building with smoke bombs in order to see where the leaks were coming from. None of the pipes below the building are sealed.

“I never had a problem with the smell of urine after that. There is an issue with the drainage that needs sorting under this area. The need to drag the river, clean the drains and install underground pumps at the edge of the river and the docks that pump ferociously towards the water to stop it coming in so far.”

Now that she has time on her hands for the first time in years, Ms McPhail decided to turn a negative into a positive.

There are still families across South Galway and in Connemara and Spiddal who cannot return home due to the floods. She has organised a fundraiser for the Red Cross, which is coordinating a relief effort for people most in need, the vast majority of them suffering financial hardship because of being unable to get flood insurance cover.

“The tears are over. I have to think that there are people a lot worse off than us. I understand the stress caused by the storms and floods in a business sense but I have a home to go to at the end of the day. I couldn’t fathom the stress of being out of your home.”

The event takes place at the Rower’s Club in Woodquay on Saturday, March 1. Music by Rachel Sermanni The Voice Squad, Peadar King, Mo Kenny, Mikey & the Scallywags and My Fellow Sponges. All acts will perform acoustically.

There will be a huge array of prizes up for grabs in a raffle, which have been donated by local businesses. Tickets cost €15. Check out Galway Flood Benefit on Facebook.

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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