Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


Helmet might have saved cyclist from fatal injuries



The Coroner for West Galway has urged cyclists to use helmets at all times, following the inquiry into the death of a father of two, who would probably have survived an accident if he had taken this safety precaution.

Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin made his remarks at Galway Courthouse after a lengthy inquiry into the death of Kevin Smith (43), from Ballyvaughan, Co Clare. He was struck by a car outside Kinvara last summer, sustaining fatal head injuries.

“This is possible,” was the reply from consultant pathologist, Dr Birgid Tietz, when asked if Mr Smith’s would have survived had he been wearing a helmet.

“Most fatalities are around injuries to the head and neck,” the Coroner added.

Mr Smith had been in the area on August 6, as he was constructing a porch for friends in Kilcolgan. He had cycled from home the previous day, the Inquest heard, and decided to stay overnight as it was a two-hour journey by bike. They shared two bottles of wine with dinner, before he went to bed at about 11pm.

His friend told the inquiry that he set up his work space on the morning of August 6, but left the house without explanation at 10am.

She said that he would often go for a swim, and had possibly gone out to revive himself, as he had been feeling tired and recalled him saying that he “felt like he’d been hit by a truck.”

A driver encountered him near Dunguaire Castle, outside Kinvara, at about 1.30pm, and said that as he approached, the cyclist swerved without explanation across the road in front of him. The accident occurred about one mile further along that road, on the way to Ballindereen.

Another driver remembered seeing Mr Smith around that time. She was parked in a layby, but recalled him cycling past her and then crossing the road, seconds before he was struck.

The driver of the oncoming vehicle said that the cyclist ‘shot out’ into her path from behind bushes. A witness, who was a passenger in an oncoming car, told her that there was nothing she could have done.

“It was literally the blink-of-an-eye stuff,” the driver recalled.

She also said that Mr Smith’s fiancée, Danielle Dodds, had approached her at the scene, saying: “You look after yourself, this is part of a bigger picture.”

A witness driving in the opposite direction told the inquiry that the traffic had slowed down to get past Mr Smith, who was cycling alongside a female pedestrian with a dog – incidentally, Gardaí were unable to get a statement from this woman.

“The guy on the bike seemed to be swerving in and out on the road… the pedestrian stayed on the left, he cycled across the road, he was cycling erratically,” she said.

“I was glad that there were other cars in front of me, I wouldn’t have liked to come up on that cyclist at any speed. You don’t do stuff like that on a busy road, especially at the height of the tourist season.”

Mr Smith was airlifted to University Hospital Galway, where he died two days later, on the evening of August 8. He had been kept alive so that his heart, liver, and kidneys could be donated.

Garda Tom Kavanagh, who attended the scene of the accident, told the inquiry that despite making numerous enquiries, he had been unable to trace Mr Smith’s movements between 10am and the time of the accident.

“Several business premises were visited in Kinvara, but we were unable to establish where he was,” he said.

Dr Tietz carried out a post-mortem examination on Mr Smith’s remains, and found that he had sustained some broken bones to his right leg, but it was the lethal brain injury that had caused his death.

She said it was possible that a helmet could have saved his life.

The jury of five men and one woman deliberated for five minutes before unanimously returning a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, that death was due to a skull fracture, subdural and subarachnoid haemorrhage, and cerebral oedema, sustained in a road traffic accident.

The jury also endorsed the Coroner’s recommendations about cyclists wearing helmets.

“I would like to advise the general public who cycle – it has become an increasing pastime and hobby – that on roads where they may encounter traffic, to wear safety headgear,” Dr MacLoughlin said.

“It doesn’t go without notice that the late Kevin Smith and his family donated his organs, so although life was becoming extinct for him, it could begin for someone else… it was a gracious quality.”

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading


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.”

Continue Reading