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Galway farmers among the stars of new ‘behind the scenes’ series



Caltra farmer Shane Conway – who combines life on the land with the demands of a PhD in NUI Galway – will join his father Liam as stars of a new behind-the-scenes farming series, which will broadcast on UTV Ireland this January.

Rare Breed provides an in-depth look into the successes and struggles of farming life in Ireland, throughout a calendar year.

A total of 21 farmers across the country are taking part in the series, which gives a unique insight into all aspects of farming life and practices – from beef, dairy, horse and poultry farms, to vegetable, pig and even Christmas tree farms.

Launched by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, Rare Breed is a 12-part series which follows the lives of farmers across Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster. The series will begin on UTV Ireland in January 2015.

Shane splits his time between his studies at NUI Galway where he is undertaking a PHD involving the Intergenerational Transfer of the Irish Family Farm and the farm that he runs with his dad Liam in Caltra in Ballinasloe. They run a pedigree Charlollais sheep and cattle farm.

In the January series Shane and Liam are lambing their pedigree Charollais sheep during a bitter Irish winter.

Reflecting on his participation, Shane said it was an excellent opportunity to showcase their livestock in the public domain and ‘illustrate to the people of Ireland just how much time and effort actually goes into the farming occupation, particularly from a pedigree breeding perspective’.

“Farming is a 365 day a year occupation and to be honest you have to be even ‘on call’ 24/7 during calving and lambing time! There is no switching off, rain, sleet or snow we battle through the elements to bring food to people’s tables.

“Growing up on a farm has instilled in me a strong work ethic for which I am very grateful to my mother and father. Indeed this is also the case for all my siblings as it has always been an entire family effort.

“Farming is in our blood. On our farm, we are constantly striving to improve the quality of our livestock year after year, we enjoy the challenge. There is also great deal of satisfaction caring for your animals and seeing them grow and evolve throughout their lifetime. At the end of the day farming is a way of life, not just a job,” he said.

“Coming from a farming background, I am delighted to announce Rare Breed as part of UTV Ireland’s schedule. Ireland’s agriculture and food industry is revered, but very few consumers know what a typical day-in-the-life of a farming family involves,” said Michael Wilson, UTV Ireland Managing Director.

“Rare Breed is about giving people an access-all-areas pass to one of Ireland’s biggest industries – on farms both big and small. The series also documents the intriguing contrasts between well-established farmers and the more tech-savvy farmers beginning their careers in the agri-sector,” he added.

“I am always fascinated and inspired by the level of commitment and dedication shown by Ireland’s farming community – particularly when you see our local produce displayed on supermarket shelves, across the world,” added Kelda Crawford McCann, Producer of Rare Breed.

“This is the biggest series of Rare Breed we have filmed to date. Our cameras have been out in all conditions as farmers worked through torrential rain and beaming sun all around the country. The results have been outstanding and the finished product will be a heart-warming, family programme,” she added.

Rare Breed – A Farming Year begins on UTV Ireland next Monday, January 5, at 8pm.

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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