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Galway motorbike enthusiasts make life or death deliveries



Emergency voluntary service Blood Bike West has expanded its fleet of motorcycles with the launch of its latest vehicle, ‘Juliet’.

Blood Bike West is a charitable organisation which comprises a number of motorbike enthusiasts who volunteer to provide an emergency out-of-hours free service to the HSE in the West of Ireland.

They collect and delivering all manner of urgent medical items such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and other urgent medical equipment and supplies from North to South and East to West.

As the charity moves into its third year of operation, demand for its services continues to grow, resulting in a need to add Juliet to the already efficient fleet. Juliet was launched at an event which was hosted at Western Motors in Ballybrit by Mayor of Galway, Cllr Donal Lyons.

“Blood Bike West were a Mayor’s Award Prize winner in 2014 for their services to the community, and we wanted to both thank Galway City for the honour of the award, and have our mayor be involved in the naming ceremony for our latest fleet addition,” explained PRO of Blood Bike West, John Moylan.

Despite its youth, the charity has already adopted a tradition; that is, naming its fleet after people they have engaged with in some special way. Each motorcycle is named after a patient who has been helped by Blood Bike West, or who had a special connection with the charity.

“Our current motorcycle, Sophie, is named after a young lady with whom we have been involved for a few years now, and whose dad, Vincent, is now part and parcel of our entourage, whilst our launch night for the motorcycle, Juliet, has an equally special connection,” said Mr Moylan.

Juliet, a 700cc Honda, is named after baby Juliet Quirke, born in 2014. In the course of the pregnancy, Juliet’s mother was in need of a specialist transfusion before Juliet was born, and as part of that process, Blood Bike West were required to perform a very urgent run of blood samples to Dublin.

The resultant medical care that followed the run ensured that baby Juliet was born healthy to mum Gabriella and dad Alan, thanks to Blood Bike West rider Mick Carty who was on call at the time.

“When we were looking for a name for the bike, we remembered this trip, made enquiries via the hospital and learned the whole Juliet story. So Mam, Dad and Juliet joined us for the formal naming and rollout of our latest steed, and we were delighted to have them with us. We do think it is worth making the connection for us as well as patients and the medics involved,” said Mr Moylan.

Blood Bike West’s mission is to act as an Emergency Rider Voluntary service, which aims to relieve sickness and protect health by providing urgently-needed medical supplies between hospitals and blood transfusion banks.

The charity’s hours of service are 7pm to 7am Monday to Thursday, and the group is on call from 7pm on Friday through to 7am on Monday (24-hour weekend coverage), to ensure nobody goes without urgently-needed supplies over the weekend.

“At times of curtailment of services in health for reasons of resources, the role of charities in general is more important than ever,” said Mr Moylan.

“There is the added social benefit in involving local people in a community effort for the good of those who need our help. And specially-focused charities like Blood Bike West can offer not only relief from the resource issue, but also an opportunity for the required service to improve on that even normally available.

“For example, what Blood Bike West does in particular is allow the clinicians to continue their great work, freed from any undue issue of whether a particular task happens seamlessly in an out-of-hours or emergency situation, just by calling us. As Blood Bike West provides the service free of charge, it allows clinical decisions to be made on a clinical basis, not a logistical one.”

But because the service is voluntary, it relies on help and donations as it grows from strength to strength.

“Funding is the bane of every charity, but a vital one, and we hold events such as our upcoming Bingo night in Athenry on May 22, as well as other events and collections throughout the year,” he said.

The charity also provides a marshalling service for road-based sports events as a way to raise funds, as well has bringing a number of business sponsors on board to help with costs – though they will always welcome more sponsors.

“But we need people. There is more to Blood Bike West than riding a motorcycle. We need committee and volunteer posts filled, controllers, organisers, fundraisers. The act of moving our deliveries on a motorcycle is but a part of it.”

You can make a donation through or by texting BLOOD to 50300.

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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