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Galway man takes on challenge of a lifetime from Dublin to Delhi



A Galway man is taking on the charity challenge of a lifetime – running 13 half marathons in 13 countries in 13 weeks.

Fergal O’Flaherty – son of the late pharmacist Matt O’Flaherty – set off from Dublin in a jeep called ‘iVan’ yesterday (Sunday) destined for New Delhi in India in an effort to raise €100,000.

The ‘Dublin2Delhi’ 13 half marathons will be run en route to India to raise money for two charities; On the Road Again in Ireland and Child Nutrition Foundation in India.

The challenge will see him travel through the UK, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, People’s Republic of China, Tibet, Nepal and finally India.

This event is the brainchild of Fergal, who is now living in Dublin. It was a dream of his late father’s to undertake a road trip, but he passed away just one month before they were to set off.

“Our Dad and Mum had ten kids. They dedicated their lives to raising us and getting us a good education. Back in 2010, as Dad reached his eighties, he and I planned a road trip together.

“He wanted to go to the Isle of Man to drive the TT motorbike circuit. It was a dream of his since the motor-biking days of his youth. We were to go on the 8th of August. On Tuesday, July 13, Dad got a heart attack in Galway Shopping Centre and died later that day.

“Our Dad’s sudden death affected us all. It was a terrible shock for our family, and his passing a great loss. We have all done our best to come to terms with it in our own individual ways.

“Mine was to take up running. I had never ever run before in my life. I got off the couch, and started by running down my local road for a minute at a time.

“My sisters Maeve and Deirdre encouraged me into some good running routines. I ran a 10k race for the RNLI Lifeboats and found it very rewarding. After that I ran a few 5k and 10k races and was pleasantly surprised by my progress.

“My sister encouraged me to join her at our neighbourhood running club, Brothers Pearse AC (in Dublin). Running with others makes it so much easier, so it wasn’t long before I was training for my first half marathon. I was more able to cope with things after running. Running really enabled me to handle Dad’s passing better. Running got me through.

“I was driving Dad’s old car a lot after he died (a 1996 Toyota Corolla). It was so reliable and trustworthy. It started every day, rain or shine, frost or snow. Driving it reminded me a lot of Dad.

“Sometimes that made me blue, sometimes happy. I started thinking about the road trip again and thought, why not? Why not do it anyway? Why not do it in his honour? With the help of many others I have planned, fine-tuned and added to the original plan, and added to it in a way that I hope will make Dad laugh and smile,” said Fergal.

He explained that the concept is to continue the good work his father did and continue to help those who need it – supporting those who assist wellbeing and personal development, wellbeing of children and mental health.

“Dad was always helping others during his life here. He volunteered with the St Vincent De Paul for over 30 years. He knew the more disadvantaged areas of Galway and Connemara better than most. This trip will recognise his willingness to help others carry on,” he said.

Fergal aims to raise €100,000 for the two nominated charities – 100% of funds raised will be donated, and the cost of getting to India has been privately funded.

On the Road Again is an Irish charity which designs Personal Development Programmes to improve physical wellbeing and mental health.

The Child Nutrition Foundation is based in India, where 6,000 children die every day from malnutrition. The CNF aims to reduce this rate in vulnerable communities.

To donate, visit

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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