Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


Wild Atlantic Way sculptures come under fire



New sculptures, erected by Fáilte Ireland at some of Connemara’s most scenic spots to promote the Wild Atlantic Way, are “despoiling what they are supposed to be promoting”, according to local residents.

One of the sculptures, at Omey Strand, outside Clifden has attracted particular criticism as it is already badly rusted, just a month after being erected.

Retired consultant and community activist Heather Greer, who lives in Cleggan, has organised an online petition calling for the removal of the structure at Omey Strand. The appeal has clocked up almost 450 signatures already. The target is 500, when she will sent it on to the CEO of Fáilte Ireland Shaun Quinn and Minister for Tourism, Paschal Donohue.

The controversial sign at Omey Island. PHOTO: HEATHER GREER.

The controversial sign at Omey Island. PHOTO: HEATHER GREER.

The sculpture at Omey Strand, which she estimates is some 20 feet high, is totally unnecessary, she says.

“There are Wild Atlantic Way signs every 100 metres along the road and there are signs for Omey everywhere. You can’t miss it.

“This sculpture takes away from the notion of what it’s meant to promote, which is the wildness. It is big, ugly, unnecessary and out of place. This is marketing gone mad.”

The sculpture, dubbed by local wags, as ‘the gallows’ is located in a small car-park near the strand – an adjoining plinth to be completed in Spring will contain information on the island.

Ms Greer, a photographer, who is currently co-writing a book on Omey, is concerned that the information and sign will attract extra tourists and cars to the island, which has been designated a Special Area of Conservation and which has already been affected by increased tourist numbers.

Meanwhile, both the sculpture and the plinth are rusting and discolouring the ground around, she says. “By the time the summer arrives, the place will be filled with rust stains, impossible to remove.”

The Wild Atlantic Way sculptures and information boards, which can be found all along the route, cost €3.5 million and “it’s adding insult to injury that this one is rusting already”, says Ms Greer.

Her petition concerns only the Omey Strand/Island sign, she stresses.

“I started it before I came to learn that people in Leenane, Renvyle and the Sky Road were equally or even more outraged by the signs.  I should have contacted people from along the WAW and started a petition for the removal of all of the signs. Had I done that, I dare say I would have had 4,240 signatures by now.”

Fáilte Ireland points out that it held public consultations in advance of these sculptures being erected. However, its head Head of Operations for the West and Mid-West, Fiona Monaghan says she will will be happy to meet locals again to address their concerns.

Some 110 Discovery Point sculptures have been installed along the Atlantic seaboard so far, and “this seems to be the only area with this intensity of negativity”, according to Ms Monaghan.

The sculptures mark the second phase of the Wild Atlantic Way, and are designed to enhance the experience for tourists,” she explains.

“These interpretative signs will be supplemented by a photo marker with the objective of reassuring the visitor that they are at a particular discovery point. They can take photos to share with friends and family.”

Such discovery points are not unusual along routes like this internationally, she adds.

And she point out that Fáilte Ireland engaged with communities and businesses along the route from the get-go with a series of public consultations since 2012. Proposals for these Discovery Point signs were discussed at a meeting in Clifden, although the specific designs were not available at that time.

Because these pieces are sculptures, they have received mixed feedback, but the concept itself has not been an issue, she says.

The issue of rust on the Omey Strand sculpture is a problem, she acknowledges, as the sculptures are made of corten steel and are meant to be self-maintaining. Ms Monaghan has forwarded the photo and information to the consultants involved.

Meanwhile, she is prepared to meet with residents to hear their concerns.

The development of the Atlantic Way to date has been collaborative and has involved local engagement, and it’s important that this should continue.

“I am very happy to meet with people and see if we can come to a mutual agreement.”

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading


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.”

Continue Reading