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Lack of marina leaves Galway missing out on millions of euro



One of the directors of the Irish Sailing Association and driving force behind Galway Bay Sailing Club, Pierce Purcell, believes the city and county are losing out on millions of euro every year because marina facilities are inadequate to cater for sailing boats, yachts and cruisers.

In the wake of Annalise Murphy’s superb silver medal win in the Olympics, it is hoped that further medals can be secured in the sport of sailing in the years to come. However, Mr. Purcell believes there needs to be a great degree of investment into marina facilities in Galway if it is to come up to standard.

“It is not all about high performance necessarily,” he says. “Galway has been very far behind the rest of the country in terms of facilities and access. Access and participation is my area on the board and we have been working very hard this year to try and get people onto the water. And we have to work a bit harder at the access.

“The facilities in Galway are very poor. We badly need a marina in Galway. We could do with a marina out here (in Oranmore). At the moment, the marina in Rossaveal is being expanded, which is good. It is a start. They started out with 30 berths and it should be 120 berths next year. So, that is something.”

Mr Purcell highlights that, last year, West of Ireland Off-Shore Racing Association (WIORA) ran its showpiece event out of the docks in the city and, supported by the Harbour Company, was hugely successful. In other words, when facilities are put in place, the region benefits.

“Next year, for the first time on the West Coast, the West of Ireland Off-shore Racing Association is going to be held in the Aran Islands under the auspices of a new club there. It is a very small club; it is just starting up. All the clubs in the West coast though are encouraging to have the event there. So, we will badly need facilities to be put in place.

“The Government has spent €40 something million on facilities out there. There was a wonderful opportunity to provide a few marina pontoons for all kinds of boat users as well but, sadly, this didn’t happen. So, it is going to take a huge effort to provide facilities for all those boats which are going to turn up next year, in July, in Kilronan.”

For Galway Bay Sailing Club’s part, they boast of 400 members between the various classes, dinghies to cruisers; juniors to adults to seniors; from leisure sailing to competitive racing. In all, 300 people alone around the bay have cruiser boats registered while approximately 14 of those affiliated to Galway Bay also cater for wheelchair users or accessible sailors.

“Our Commodore, Gary Allen, is an accessible sailor and, overall, we have a very enthusiastic group who turn up and go out on a regular basis. It is not uncommon to see a line of wheelchairs at the top of a slip on a Thursday evening. Mark Kelly, Henry Lupton, Marina Lupton and Lorraine Scully are great supporters of it.”

However, Mr. Purcell, who owns Purcell Marine in Clarinbridge, stresses it is not just for local users that he would like to see facilities developed. “The club would be very supportive of Galway Harbour development because this would bring in a huge number of events.

“We are constantly meeting people around the country who say Galway is a long way up and that we need better facilities if we are to attract people. Look what the Volvo Ocean Race did for Galway! It was fantastic. It was absolutely brilliant. If the facilities are there people will come. The modern sailor is expecting these kind of facilities nowadays.”

Consequently, he feels Galway is losing out economically due to the lack of adequate facilities in hotspots around Galway’s coastline. “I think a lot can be done with the facilities around, not only in terms of marinas,” continues Mr. Purcell.

“I am always watching out for camper vans these days and I can never understand why we don’t have better facilities for them because they will come and spend money in our towns and villages. We have wonderful natural amenities here, but we have been very slow to develop them. It is the same with our marinas,” he added.

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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