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Vandals wreak havoc on quiet rural business for third time



A small farmer, based a few miles north-east of Athenry, is at the end of his tether after he fell victim to criminals and vandals – for the third time in the past decade.

The most recent damage to property suffered by P. J. Hynes occurred while he and his family were away at a wedding – only to return to find his expensive machinery wrecked to a point where he now won’t even bother with repairs.


The saga began in 2006, when P.J. – a native of Castle Ellen, having lived in Tysaxon for over 30 years – bought a wilderness in Cahertubber East and set about reclaiming the land.

With a background in machinery repairs and service, he invested more than €25,000 in some plant, including a Samsung 210 excavator and a couple of tractors and trailers. He spent the next few years turning the wilderness into a workable farm.

Everything went fine until 2010 when he was horrified to find one morning that every pane of glass, every light-cover, even the glass on the dashboards on all his machines had been maliciously broken.

He reported the crime to Monivea Gardaí and investigations began – but meantime, P. J. was left with no option but to pay almost €5,000 to have the machines repaired.

Vandalised tractor

Vandalised tractor

The investigation resulted in a number of people being questioned but everything was denied and – without evidence – nothing could be done to bring those responsible to justice.

PJ got on with his work until four years later, in 2014, he was met with the exact same scenario. More vandalism, more mindless, malicious damage to his machines which are kept over a mile from the family home.

Gardaí again investigated; those suspected of being responsible were questioned but once again, with no admissions of guilt and no evidence, there was no prosecution.

Then came the third attack on the June public holiday weekend this year. It was if the perpetrators were punishing the farmer for reporting their crimes.

“We were away at a wedding and this fact would have been known locally,” he says.

All glass and lights in all his machines were broken for a third time, even lights that were protected by metal guards. This time, a despondent P.J. is not going to have the machines repaired.

“Even if I could afford the repairs, I haven’t the heart or the will to continue. It will only happen again”, he says. “I have nothing left. We are always blaming criminals from Dublin and other places but these criminals are living amongst us. Where do we go from here?”

Local County councillor Gabe Cronnelly and Monivea Gardai have been working diligently in an effort to rid this area of crime but it is not an easy task.

“This is just one of many crimes in this rural area,” says Cllr. Cronnelly.

“We are also plagued with illegal dumping of household refuse in picturesque areas. It’s bad enough and unacceptable to be targeted once by this gang but three times is just too much.

“Though the area has an active Neighbourhood Watch and signs are in place, we have made little or no progress. I call on local people to report any suspicious activity to the local Gardaí,” he added.

A dejected P.J. Hynes sits in the vandalised cab of one of his tractors. EIREFOTO

A dejected P.J. Hynes sits in the vandalised cab of one of his tractors. EIREFOTO

Gardaí in Monivea are actively investigating this and other criminal activity. “Enquiries are ongoing and we appeal to anyone with relevant information to contact the Garda Confidential Line at 1800 666 111 or Monivea Garda station at 091 849002,” a spokesman said.

But meantime, one small farmer’s efforts to create arable land from a wilderness have been thwarted.

“It’s depressing”, he said, “they say third time lucky, well it’s three times unlucky in my case. In the hope of some concrete evidence, a reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest”.

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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