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Sod turned on replica Claddagh cottage



Once a poor fishing village just outside the old city walls of Galway, the Claddagh is one of the oldest villages in Ireland with its existence having first been recorded with the arrival of Christianity in the 5th century.

Home to Victoria Cross recipient Thomas Grady, Claddagh locals have supplied the city with seafood up until as recently as the 19th century, and was often the prime location for regular fish markets.

The beautiful authentic Irish cottages that once dotted the area were sadly demolished in 1935 and were replaced by a housing estate scheme, much to the despair of those at the Claddagh Arts Centre who take pride in the Claddagh heritage.

With nothing remaining to remember the cherished history of the area, the Claddagh Arts Centre have teamed up with local campaigners to take matters into their own hands.

Extensive research was carried out by the Centre over the past year, everything from the dimensions of cottages to the construction materials used, and the hard work has since paid off.

The Centre has finally been granted planning permission to construct a brand new authentic Claddagh cottage.

The level of research is clear in the Centre’s promise to keep the cottage as close to the originals as possible, with everything from the doors to the roof to be constructed authentically.

The cottage will serve as a museum where members of the public can have a traditional cup of tea and a scone, or relax in the landscaped gardens.

The cottage and adjacent Arts Centre will offer workshops on stone and wood carving and be available for use for community events such as traditional music nights, Irish language classes and charity fundraisers.

The walls will be built with lime mortar and local stone, some sourced from an original thatched Claddagh cottage before being white washed.

A stone fireplace will similarly be made of locally-sourced stone and the roof will compose of bog oak rafters, cross members of hazel and willow before being topped with bog scraw and finished in wheaten straw thatch.

The floor will consist of local flagstone, the windows of old style timber sash, and the front and back doors will be half doors.

An emotional Kay Conroy, who has been campaigning for the cottage since 1968 finally had her dream realised when she was given the honour of turning the first sod on the build, last Thursday.

Local councillor Catherine Connolly and King of the Claddagh Mike Lynskey said a few words to mark the occasion along with proprietor of the Centre, Cathriona Walsh and her father.

“We have huge community support and we are certain that this project can only add to Galway’s bid for Capital of Culture 2020 and its reputation as a hub for history and the arts,” said Cathriona.

Official construction will commence on October 14, but the Centre has not received a single cent in funding by way of grants, and would be extremely grateful for any donations people would be willing to offer.

Depending on the amount, donations will be rewarded with anything from donor’s names inscribed on a stone of the cottage, to free rental space for events, or matching Claddagh wedding rings designed to the contributor’s specifications amongst other gifts.

Anyone interested in helping out with the project in other ways, such as the construction itself or promotion of the project can call into the Claddagh Arts Centre on Upper Fairhill Road while donations can be made at Fundit.

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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