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Tragic death of boy (2) in driveway of family home



No level of medical intervention could have saved the life of a toddler, who received fatal head injuries when he was run-over in the driveway of his home, an Inquest into his death heard.

Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, was answering a query put by the boy’s devastated mother when he said that even if the accident had occurred outside Beaumont Hospital, the child would have not have survived such severe injuries.

Thomas O’Connor (29 months) of Derrydonnell North, Oranmore, was playing outside with his father, John, when the accident occurred on the evening of September 8 last year.

The child liked to play inside a spare vehicle parked in the driveway of their home, a Nissan Patrol jeep. The battery was dead, however, and he and his dad had fun pumping up a back wheel, and jump-starting it before the accident occurred.

John O’Connor said that he left his son playing in the driver’s seat of the Nissan, which had its bonnet left up, while he went to move his own Land Rover Discovery, which he had used to start the other vehicle.

He was driving forward when he felt a “bump” however, and jumped out immediately. His son was lying lifeless on the ground. He described the tragic accident as “life-changing” for himself and the child’s mother, Maeve.

She was inside the house at the time and when she heard John calling her name she ran out, carried the child to the garden and began CPR. Someone alerted a neighbour, Dr Joe Fitzgibbon, who found that the child had no heartbeat, and had no obvious injuries other than lacerations to his head.

Garda Declan O’Connor, who carried out a forensic examination of the scene, said that the rear wheel on the passenger side of the vehicle had hit the child.

He added that the height from ground to the bottom of the passenger window of the Land Rover was 110cm – Thomas measured 100cm, and would not have been seen by his dad as he had approached the vehicle.

Dr MacLoughlin said that no one would ever know for sure what had happened – that he may have been trying to get in the door of the Land Rover, or had tripped while walking towards it.

“We don’t know if the jeep hit him or he fell under the wheel – there are numerous ways he could have got into that position where the wheel went over him… we can speculate, but we will never know,” he said.

His mother asked the pathologist, Dr Margaret Sheehan, if her son’s life could have been saved had he been airlifted to hospital, but the answer was that death was instantaneous.

Dr MacLoughlin added: “Even if it happened in the grounds of Beaumont Hospital (the National Centre for Neurology), it wouldn’t have made a difference because his injuries were so severe.”

The Coroner returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, that the child had died from acute traumatic brain injury with multiple skull fractures, consequent with the impact of a jeep.

“The father of Thomas said it was a life-changing event for so many people,” he said.

“He was obviously a bright and intelligent child, who delighted in all things that all children delight in. What should have been a very happy day to see his father arrive home turned out to be a very tragic day for the family, in which Thomas lost his life accidentally.

“I can only imagine how his mother and father felt at the time, and the flashbacks that occurred for all the people who were there.

“The death of a child, particularly a violent death, touches everyone.”

John O’Connor thanked the emergency services, neighbours, and the Gardaí – particularly Garda Pat Flanagan – who had helped them through the tragic loss of their son.

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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