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Old friends get back together classmate’s Golden Jubilee



Old schoolmates from Killimor took a trip down memory lane at the weekend for a celebration on the double.

For the first time in 56 years, the 1960 class of Raheen National School gathered for a reunion.

But this wasn’t an ordinary gathering – the 17 former friends reunited to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Religious Profession of their classmate, Sister Kathleen M. Murphy of Claremadden.

After doing the ‘Primary’, aged just thirteen and a half, she headed to Juniorate in Swanage near Southampton in the South of England. It was here young girls decided whether they wished to become nuns.

She did, and joined the Sisters of Mercy, and received an education – degree, masters and doctorate in religious education.

She taught in State schools in England and worked her way to the top of Maryvale Institute in Birmingham – the equivalent of a Catholic teacher training college – where she became head of religious education.

After years of travelling England, Wales and Northern Ireland in that capacity, and on missions, when Sr Kathleen reached her Golden Jubilee milestone, there was only one place she wanted to be – home in East Galway!

“They asked me would I like a trip to Rome, or a trip anywhere else to celebrate. I didn’t. All I wanted was a reunion with my classmates in Raheen National School. Because I had left so early, that’s what I wanted.

“My brother said firstly, my classmates wouldn’t care enough to want to come. And secondly that it would be impossible to get in touch with everyone, even if they did want to,” she recalled.

But nothing is impossible. And he was wrong abouit her classmates not caring – they jumped at the chance to meet again!

So with the help of Anna McDonagh nee Breheny, one of Sister Kathleen’s class mates, her brother Tom and his wife Marie, the group got together last weekend.

Everyone who was mobile made it to the celebration, including seventeen classmates; only two couldn’t be there due to illness.

The day itself was unique and special, not least for the powerful homily delivered by Fr Christy O’Byrne at the mass which was concelebrated in St Patrick’s Church Kiltormer, Ballinasloe. The choir, under the direction of Lucy Kilkenny excelled themselves.

Offertory gifts included a bible, a symbol of Sr Kathleen’s missionary life; and the old plaque from the Raheen National School was polished-up and brought to the altar by classmate Michael Larkin.

Candles were lit for three deceased classmates, the late Sean Hogan, Kathleen Duane and Joe McClearn. There was a special candle lit also for her late parents, Jim and Delia Murphy, who lived to 100, and the deceased parents of the classmates, all of whom had passed away.

They browsed old communion and confirmation photographs and reminisced on the ‘good old days’ during a day full of emotion. Later they updated each other on the years gone by over a special celebration meal in Gullane’s Hotel, which was followed by dancing to the music of the sixties.

“It was a powerful day. Not just for me. But what struck me was that it was a powerful day for all of the classmates. Many of them hadn’t seen each other in 56 years. It was very emotional. For me it was a very spiritual day, a very emotional day,” added Sister Kathleen.

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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