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Galwayman is one of Guinness’ top men in California



It seems like a lifetime ago since Aidan Fallon, now the Senior Sales Director for Diageo in California, was working at Higgins Hardware store in Shantalla.

His grandfather had helped set up the business and his father ran the manufacturing plant so it was only natural Aidan would follow in their footsteps working there as well.

Even at 18, Aidan had his eyes set on higher things, so when a better job opportunity opened up in the business, he took initiative and applied for the sales representative role.

“I told my boss I was really interested in the role and he was shocked. He said promotion is not based on talent, but on tenureship and that blew me away,” said Aidan.

Aidan requested a year of absence and told his boss that he was going to go to America, a bold decision for any 18 year old to make.

“He said you’ll be back in three weeks and that was it. I never came back.”

The second youngest in his family, with no job set up and no immediate contacts, Aidan arrived in Boston in the early nineties with nothing but an address book and a few quid in his pocket.

“I had just turned 19. I had $400 and a dream. I had a little address book full of numbers just to call people up and hope that somebody would come to the airport to pick me up.”

Aidan was among several Galway soccer lads who had moved to Boston, and eventually tracked one of them down, a young man called Jimmy Nolan.

“Jimmy’s was the first floor I slept on. I slept on his floor for about two weeks before I got my own place and job and then obviously when you get a new job you get a new bunch of kids and rent an apartment.”

The Mervue native managed to secure a job in construction and landscaping for two years, and it wasn’t long before he was faced with a similar situation as he had while working at Higgins’.

“I was on a roof in Brookline and we had stripped the roof and if you know anything about roofing, it was just a bare shingled roof, easy to strip.

“A normal roof would take you two or three hours to strip, but this roof took us two days, that’s how big this house was.”

The young man was all fired up to learn how to lay a new roof and gain a valuable skill, but it didn’t go exactly as planned when on the third day, three lads arrived on the scene with carpenter belts.

To Aidan’s disappointment, he was informed that he would not be laying a new roof but rather, his job would be to gather up all the old shingles he had just helped strip and put them in the dumpster in less than a week.

“That was a shock to the ego and to me. In those four and a half days of filling barrows of shingles, cleaning around the flower beds, I just thought is this really what I want to do for my life?

“Did I really leave Galway for this? I left family, friends, should I go back? I’m not legal. Is it truly a dream to become a full time labourer? This isn’t what I want.”

Ever the opportunist, Aidan decided to avail of his soccer skills he had honed at home and earned himself a soccer scholarship at Mount Ida College studying business.

“Once I graduated, got my legal student papers, everything changed because I was allowed to work.

“During that process, six months after college I got my green card and about two months after that I got hired by Guinness.”

Because his scholarship was just education, Aidan worked nights for the Green Briar to pay for room and board and a car and later, the Harp Bar in downtown Boston where he met his future wife, Lori.

The two of them shared high aspirations and a powerful work ethic, with Lori working in the bar to support her Masters Degree in biology from the University of Massachusetts and Aidan working to make ends meet to support his Business degree.

While working at the bar Aidan believed he could be a good sales representative and sure enough, after ten interviews and ten months he was hired by Guinness PLC as their first ever Draught Specialist in 1994.

It was an experience that allowed him to travel all over Canada and the United States promoting Ireland’s favourite alcoholic beverage.

“As I became successful in that group that grew from 1 to 45, I too grew within in the company and moved on to a different role within Diageo, to run the Boston sales team and I’ve done many more roles since then.

“I always knew that I wasn’t ready for a role until I had the right toolkit or skills in place and a lot of people try to rush up the corporate ladder and then they get to a point or role where they’re not really successful because they just haven’t developed the skills.

“I was more methodical, going width.”

Aidan’s career skyrocketed, going from a marketing role in Boston, to Director of the New England Region for seven years to now where he lives in California running all 13 states of the Pacific Region.

“The advice I give to the team that work for me is you get to dictate your own destiny. You work with your manager to help him manage your aspirations and help you get there but if you’ve got the motivation to be successful, you will be successful.

“It doesn’t matter how smart you are, it’s what your work ethic is like. If you’re willing to learn, you’ll learn and if you’re not, you won’t.”

As part of his job, Aidan brings his colleagues to Ireland on a business trip to two cities in Ireland (one of which will always be Galway), to showcase the history and culture of the brand and how big it is.

“I just had a party of 28 over here and the majority of them came up to me and said, ‘Aidan, the Galway people are so friendly and this town is buzzing.’

“That means a lot to me when I hear that and I hear it consistently. Their vision of what Ireland must be like is walking down Cross Street and Quay Street and the cobblestones and that’s what we give them.

“You have your high end restaurants, high end hotels, you’ve got everything.”

Diageo sell many different beer brands, with Guinness being just a small part of the company in the US, so it’s trips like these that really highlight its significance in Ireland.

“To see how big that brand is and to experience and see and learn about the history and culture of the Guinness family and what they’ve done for the Irish people, it just blows them away.”

Aidan and Lori have a 17 year old son Jack who’s getting ready to part take on a fundraising trip to help schoolchildren in Cambodia while their daughter Cara is a successful cheerleader for her high school varsity team and isn’t too keen on leaving sunny California.

“My wife is a Bostonian so she’s going through what I went through when I arrived in the US – she’s struggling with it but we’re committed to getting the kids through high school.”

With three years left in California, he’ll hope to find a post back in New England so his son Jack can study medicine in Boston.

The next role for Aidan would potentially be a vice president role, or perhaps he’ll veer away from the beer side of the company working with spirits, but he’s comfortable knowing there will always be an opportunity waiting for him.

“I would love to stay with Diageo and in the 22 years I’ve been with them they’ve been a wonderful company. It was like going back to school working with them, they’ll teach you, manage you, stretch you and when you get comfortable they’ll come knocking on your door with more opportunities.

“What I love about my job now is the managing people aspect, developing new talent, and watching them grow and realize they can do what they thought they couldn’t do.

“It’s been really fun and I feel now it’s my obligation to give that back. I’ve had some tremendous managers that got to know me personally so my goal right now is simply to create memories, develop people and have them exceed their career aspirations.”

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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