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Historian launches campaign for maritime museum



A local historian has proposed the establishment of a Maritime Museum on Claddagh Quay.

The proposal by local man and old-Claddagh expert Thomas Holohan comes as Galway City Council is bidding to achieve the City of Culture 2020 award.

Mr Holohan maintains the former Piscatorial School at Claddagh should be developed into a museum of local heritage to recognise Galway’s rich maritime culture.

The Claddagh native is urging Galway City Council to exhaust every effort to purchase the old school, an historic Victorian edifice which educated generations in the maritime village.

He says the development of a museum to give recognition to the seafaring ways of the historic Claddagh Village would provide a major boost to Galway’s City of Culture ambitions.

The Piscatorial School was founded by the Dominican Fathers in 1846, and is now a protected structure listed under The National Inventory Architectural Heritage.

Rev. Dr. Rushe, Prior of St. Mary’s Church, founded the school to educate the children of the Claddagh in the arts of lace making and net mending. These skills would help them as adults to find employment during the Famine years. Within four years 521 Claddagh children were attending the Piscatorial School.

The School cost £1,200 to build. Boys were taught how to fish and make nets as well as reading and writing, while the girls learned to sew, spin, read and write. However, this novel venture foundered in the course of time. By 1887 it was functioning as an ordinary primary school and in 1892 was being run by the parish.

Mr Holohan, an electoral candidate for Galway West and member of Galway Anti Austerity Alliance, describes the museum proposition as “forward thinking” adding that the move would bring many benefits to the city as well as bringing an historic building back to life.

The three-bay, three-storey building is a landmark on Claddagh Quay. The installation of a Maritime Museum there, he believes, would lend itself to an upsurge in maritime interests, promoting fisheries and local industries.

“A wealth of tradition, historical knowledge and local connections will die with my generation, unless it is protected,” Mr Holohan said. “A museum would serve to enshrine local heritage and culture.”

Mr Holohan pointed out that the earliest historic race of Ireland, ‘The Firbolgs’, settled in Claddagh . Their name derived from a leather bag worn around their waist. The bag contained weapons and gave the appearance of a large belly or ‘bolg’. The availability of freshwater fish, saltwater fish and opportunities for hunting attracted them to the area.

He pointed out that the Claddagh has had an historic role ever since. “The Claddagh was unique – if you went into Claddagh and spoke English, they would not speak a word of English back. In 1905 if you wanted to enter the village, you would have to stand on Wolf Tone Bridge and wait for someone to ask you your business,” he says.

He says his museum proposal would also serve to protect traditional ‘foclóir’ and ‘piseogs’. Superstition at sea is almost obligatory. Sailors traditionally abide by rituals, rules and old ‘piseogs’ in hopes of keeping safe at sea.

During WWI (1914-1918) Claddagh contributed significantly, deploying more soldiers per capita “than any other village domicile in Europe,” according to the Claddagh native.

He recounts a story told by his late grandmother. Before being deployed for services during WWI, two naval soldiers arrived at her door, seeking the ‘cradle caps’ (scab-like scales on a baby’s head) of her new born twins. Superstitions believed it to be good luck. The woman obliged and handed over the ‘cradle caps’. Later her twins died, and she never forgave herself for handing their caps over to the soldiers. Piseogs were taken very seriously.

His grandmother, Annie O’Toole, features in an Albert Kahn project on display in Galway Museum – one of the first colour photographs ever taken in Ireland. The photograph was developed by renowned French photographers The Lumière Brothers using a solution of potato starch.

Various maritime antiquities remain in attics all over the Claddagh, including porcelain china, rare books and military paraphernalia, according to Mr. Holohan. “The dresser full of delft was the most precious thing to a Claddagh woman – they had plates from all over the world,” he says.

Mr Holohan says the Piscatorial School would be ideally suited to a maritime museum. He describes the view from the roof of as “just spectacular, offering a panoramic perspective of Galway Bay as well as The Aran Islands”.

Maritime activities are a deep rooted part of the city’s culture, he says, and should be recognised as such.

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.

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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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