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Galway man’s insight into battle with depression



A Galway man has opened up about his battle with depression in a heartfelt open letter.

Salthill man Seán Nee’s honest account of his anxiety and depression has been praised by celebrities who have had similar experience, including Conor Cusack and singer Niall Breslin (Bressie).

The former Jes student wrote the open letter, which is on his blog while he was working at a surfing camp on a remote island in Indonesia.

The 29-year-old photographer paints a picture of paradise – of sunny climes and the best waves on the planet.

But as his detailed account of anxiety and depression attest, people can struggle no matter how rosy their lives appear to others from the outside looking in.

“I wanted to give you an insight into the mind of someone with an illness of the mind and to explain how important it is to emotionally support each other,” he says.

“I also wanted to show people that no matter how blue the water or high the palm tree is on someone’s Facebook profile, it does not show how happy they are.”

Earlier in the open letter, he gives a vivid account of the turmoil in the mind of someone struggling with anxiety and depression.

“I am confused as to how I should feel right now. I feel restless and suffocated by a sensation like a strong elastic band wrapped tight around my ribcage constricting my lungs. My mind is racing between thoughts of self-hatred and self-harm. I feel unable to stop pulling the hairs out of my beard and my muscles ache. I look around me and see other people content with the moment, where as I am in a constant battle with it.

“My heart is hurting which is making my anxiety worse. I am trying to focus on writing one-letter-at-a-time! But my thoughts that everyone hates me or people might be talking about me are hard to push away; the anxiety grows. I can’t get comfortable, the fear is unbearable,” he writes.

He points out that just two days previous he had “the best surf of my life”.

“Nothing particularly negative has happened between then and now, and yet I feel the complete opposite. My self-confidence is a diminishing drizzle and I feel paranoid. I believe no-one cares whether I exist or not. I am nothing. I am in a position I don’t deserve so I keep my head down and break all eye contact with the others. The only thing I can really focus on is to end this feeling.”

As the letter continues, Seán touches on the subject of suicide. “Burying our heads in the sand will not help anyone so we need to face this issue head-on and see what we can do,” he says.

Another interesting aspect to his account is just how ‘normal’ he appears to others.

“I don’t think you would guess I had any issues if you met me, even those who know me well were shocked when they found out. I laugh a lot, I’m pretty social, have a loving family and I’ve a good group of friends.”

He says he struggled with “extreme anxiety and crippling depression” throughout his school days and reached a low aged 27 when he was admitted to hospital.

He gives a brutally honest outline of his thoughts on people’s perceptions of the illness – the ‘depression deniers’ – and on how it is treated.

But he ends on an uplifting note.

“For any young people reading this, or anyone, who is suffering from depression or anxiety disorder, I hope I haven’t scared you. I have more good days than bad ones and I have felt love and joy many times. I know I will in future – so will you! You may go through this rough patch but you can get through it. You will know yourself better and will have a greater empathy for others. Keep your heads held high.”

The full letter can be viewed here

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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