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Interactive bus tours allow children live the magic fables



Children in Galway will have the opportunity to step into a fairytale in August when the highly-popular Story Bus comes to the city.

The Story Bus will arrive in Galway on August 3 and again on August 20, bringing ‘The Fairy Story’ to kids, who will have the opportunity to ride the bus and take part in the excitement of the tale as they travel from the City Centre to the beautiful Brigit’s Garden in Rosscahill.

“The Story Bus is a four-hour long day tour, with live entertainment on the bus, interactive story-telling and after that, stepping literally into the story and discovering the beautiful place of Brigit’s Garden, where families will have to fulfil a mission as part of the adventure,” said event manager of Abrakadabra School for Creative Kids (ASCK), Irina Negrila.

The Story Bus is run by the ASCK and will travel to Brigit’s Garden to use its nature trails to enhance the story. The team wants to encourage families to spend quality time outdoors over the summer, making the gardens the perfect location.

“As they have a fairy trail, it suited our summer story about fairies, so we were delighted to choose them as a destination,” said Irina.

The idea of the Story Bus is to provide hours of technology-free entertainment, leaving behind the screens and game consoles that are so popular among kids today, and opening the door to the imagination.

“It is really hard these days for parents to convince their kids to leave television and other devices and to communicate with them. It is really challenging to offer a programme for the entire family and make all members happy,” explained Irina.

“Going on the Story Bus, kids and parents alike enjoy a stress-free trip with fun and learning. Kids get to experience the story literally and be part of the adventure. They learn by experiencing and by doing. And once they experience the story, they will always remember it.”

Abracadabra School introduces parents and children to an interactive way of learning, helping children and parents to communicate better and build trust-based relationships.

“Stepping up to a bus, train or plane always feels different to just hopping in your own care. Parents can relax, children are getting into adventure mode instantly,” said Irina.

“During the trip, there is live entertainment and music. Kids and parents have to participate and listen carefully to how the story is unfolding. They get a mission and they need to work in family or friend teams in order to succeed.”

When families arrive on location, they take part in field work, using maps and clues to complete the story, before returning to the bus, where they will continue the conversation, encouraging children to share the best moments of their adventure.

Abracadabra School for Creative Kids was set up almost two years ago to promote interactive learning through experience. Amazingly, the whole business is the brainchild of 11-year-old Eric Lassard who, together with his mother Katie, developed the stories and performed shows in different locations around Ireland.

With various camps and workshops taking place over the summer, the team came up with the idea to put the stories on a bus and travel the country, taking families on wild adventures, and that’s how the Story Bus came to life.

Eric, who founded the company at the age of eight, is not only teaching other kids through interactive learning. He’s also learning about business as he watches the world develop through “social entrepreneurship”.

“Social entrepreneurship is nothing other than connecting the already existing dots and bringing out the maximal benefits to all the society,” he said.

“The Story Bus is a great example: we have the stories, the bus rental companies give us the busses, the locations of the story get more visitors, the families get back precious time together and the kids get learning and fun.”

Abracadabra School also offers the Birthday Story Bus and is available for school trips. With four directors in Ireland, the company is looking for passionate people from Galway and surrounding areas to bring the programmes to life.

For more information, visit www.thestorybus.come, or to get involved, email or call 085 189 0191.

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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