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84-year-old loves to take to the roads for good causes

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A pensioner with a life-long love of the bike has lamented how cycling in the city centre has now become “too dangerous” for him.

Brendan Geoghegan (84), whose passion for the pedals is unrelenting, has tackled many of the country’s road for charity – and even now he shows no signs of slowing down.

But speaking on cycling around Galway, Brendan said, “It’s an awful pity because it is a beautiful city, but you are stopped from accessing it if you are on a bike. It’s all one way streets and can be very dangerous to cycle around especially for someone my age.”

The Mervue native has been participating in long distance cycles for over three decades and his love of cycling has grown since he was first involved in the 206-mile Co-Operation North Maracycle back in 1985.

Brendan has been involved in numerous long distance charity cycles for various organisations including the likes of Croí. His original charity cycle was the North Maracycle, where he often met with an intimidating atmosphere along with the way.

“I saw some report in the paper about it and said to myself, how could anyone cycle over a hundred miles in a day?

“It was a fundraiser to bring the children from the two areas, both Catholic and Protestant together away from the hostile atmosphere up North at the time. Some of them were taking to places across Europe and America,” he said.

“It was tough going. One year, I was stopped on the road at Newry, some incident had happened the night before. I think something had exploded. We are greeted by about 100 soldiers and it was like something out of Vietnam,” he added.

Brendan’s cycling started from a very early age when he left school at the age of 14.

“One of my first jobs was a messenger boy. In my era if the family didn’t have the money you left school. So the school was like an academy for messenger boys. Ten shillings a week, no way was I going to become a millionaire,” he joked.

His first bike cost between £15 and £20 and it’s a long way from the high-spec models that are currently on the market.

His training for years involved a cycle from Clifden and back from his city residence which he and his neighbour used to go on every Sunday.

Brendan has also been heavily involved in attempts to open the unused rail line between the Galway-Clifden as a cycle freeway so people can cycle without danger.

“I pointed out the advantages to people of having tourists using this cycle path as a huge positive to the local area. They would all be looking for food and a place to stay the night, so it would be brilliant for that area of the country in increasing tourism. It would create jobs and provide much needed income to the area,” he explained.

“I was in contact with the decision makers and they eventually got it going. I’m not sure how it’s going at the moment though. However, they have come in some difficult from the land owners who don’t want give up their land,” he added.

Not only is Brendan active in body, he continues to keep his mind active also.

“Your brain is a muscle too so use it. I read a lot and I do crosswords daily and I’m into history. I did a diploma in archaeology in NUIG. I had just finished the course the year before I retired in 1996.

“Sixty-three people did it and we formed a group and we went to different countries abroad look at archaeological sites.

“I remember when I was going to school and there was a map on the wall but of course never in your wildest dreams would you think would you get to see those places. It’s extraordinary,” he stated.

CITY TRIBUNE

Salthill funfair enjoying busy tourist season

Denise McNamara

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The operators of Curry’s Funpark in Salthill are reporting a busy tourist season, despite a delayed opening and ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

While it is nowhere near the busiest season since the amusement company took over the fun fair site in Leisureland in 2014, they are delighted at how the shorter season has been going under difficult circumstances.

With a separate entrance and exit in place and customers expected to queue apart from each other, numbers have been reduced in the park. But opening hours have extended from 11am to 11pm to allow the public to avail of longer hours to enjoy the rides, explains owner Owen Curry.

“There’s a good turnout of people and a great response from our customers at being open. This year adults in their 20s are really coming in the late evenings, whereas before we would have been quiet in those last few hours.

“There’s nothing like getting out in a bit of fresh air and do something together. Without a doubt there are a lot more Irish people this year and an awful lot of them are people who haven’t ever been to Salthill which is surprising.”

After initially bringing in the equipment in February to prepare for a St Patrick’s Day opening, at one stage it looked like it would all have to be removed when lockdown was introduced, with Owen running the business from his home in Derry.

Were it not for the great support he got from the business group The Village Salthill, the park may never have opened on July 1, he says.

The opening happened after a two-day inspection, all staff undergoing courses and a lot of work implementing all the guidelines set out in a 90-page document for the operation of amusement parks.

“All our other events have been cancelled – we’d normally have equipment travelling around the country to festivals and events. We were delighted with the support and help from other businesses in Salthill. They helped with advertising and getting the word out there.”

While the park is weather dependent, he enthuses that Salthill is at least blessed to have Leisureland, the Aquarium and plenty of cafes and restaurants alongside the famous beaches and Prom.

“The staycation is definitely working for Salthill – despite the weather,” Owen remarks.

Still lit in the signature Big Wheel is the blue heart in honour of those working at the frontline during the pandemic.

“It was originally meant to be a digital screen for advertising and when we couldn’t open we decided to light a blue heart as a thank you to the front line workers until the Covid finished – we didn’t think it would be still be there but that’s the world we’re in.”

The funpark’s season is likely be extended into the Autumn.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Pride Festival makes the move online

Denise McNamara

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The Pride Parade in Galway last year.

For the first time in its three decades of breaking taboos, Galway Pride will not be holding a parade.

Instead, organisers have switched to a full schedule of almost exclusively online events.

There will be just three events out of more than two dozen where people can gather for Galway Pride week, which begins today (Monday).

There will be the traditional flag-raising event in Eyre Square at midday to mark the launch with a number of speakers and those attending will be asked to social distance and wear masks.

On Wednesday evening, they will host the annual vigil in Eyre Square, while on Sunday morning, a new event will see the community on their bikes for a coffee and cake session in collaboration with the Galway Cycling Campaign.

Last year for the festival’s 30th anniversary, an estimated 2,000 people marched through the city in the parade – a cornerstone of the celebration – with thousands more lining the streets to watch.

Event chairperson Scott Green said that having even a limited number of chances to meet and come together in person safely is really important for the community.

“Undoubtedly isolation is difficult for us all and sometimes it can be taken for granted that your home is a safe and welcoming place. For too many members of our community that safety is not guaranteed.”

“The safety of our community is paramount and so for those who cannot join us in person we will bring our passion and vibrancy to you digitally until it is safe for us all to meet again.

“This will not be a stereotypical Pride but it will still have the same heart and soul put into its organisation,” Scott said.

The Community Awards 2020 will honour those who have been important role models, ran campaigns and helped out in community groups

Several panels will also take place across Pride with topics on anti-racism, mental health, workplace well-being, activism, and trans and non-binary voices.

On the entertainment side, there will be music nights, ‘movie watchalongs’, and a rainbow cake tutorial.

Scott says like many organisations, Galway Pride has had to “learn on our feet” to put together a suitable schedule.

“We had imagined a very different Pride before Covid-19 but we have gone ahead with a mostly virtually calendar of events to deliver another Pride Week because we know how important it is for our community.”

The theme for Pride 2020 is ‘Ní Neart Go Cur Le Chéile’ or ‘strength through unity’.

“It’s a sign of the times in many ways. Never before have we all had to stick together by making choices and sacrifices not just to keep ourselves safe, but to keep others safe. It’s why this year we have dedicated our ‘virtual grand marshal’ role to all healthcare care workers, for exemplifying these selfless principles.

“There are those that are increasingly trying to target the most vulnerable of our community and increasing incidents where a seedy underbelly in our society attack our community members with the utmost of bile. The LGBT+ community stands completely united, and united we will continue to progress as a society.”

All events can be accessed through the Galway Pride Festival Facebook page.

(Photo: Last year’s Galway Pride Parade).

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CITY TRIBUNE

One year wait for hearing of criminal trials in Galway

Enda Cunningham

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It takes up to one year for criminal trials to be heard in Galway Circuit Court, according to new figures from the Courts Service.

According to the service’s newly-published annual report for 2019, in the Galway courts area, it took an average of 9-12 months for criminal trials to go to hearing, which is unchanged from the 2018 figures.

The shortest waiting times in the country were in Carlow and Tralee, where cases are heard at the next sitting of the court, while the longest wait was in Monaghan at 18-24 months.

The wait for sentence hearings (from the trial date where a guilty plea was entered) in Galway was 3-6 months, unchanged from the previous year.

Appeals are heard following a 3-6 month wait, which is an increase from two months recorded in 2017 and 2018.

The report shows that civil cases – both trials and appeals – and Family Law cases (contested, non-contested and appeals) are generally heard at the next sitting of the Circuit Court.

Civil trials in Dundalk can take between 12-18 months to be heard, while contested and appealed Family Law cases can take 6-12 months.

Meanwhile, in district courts in Galway, domestic violence barring order and protection order applications take four weeks to be heard – the previous year, such cases were held at the next sitting of the court.

However, urgent applications relating to domestic violence in Galway are heard on the next day the district court sits.

Criminal summonses in Galway District Court can take 16 weeks to be heard (the previous year it was a 12-15 weeks wait), while charge sheets are heard at the next sitting of the court, the same as the previous year.

Summonses in Carlow can take 20-28 weeks to be heard, while in Tralee, the wait is 8-12 weeks.

In Family Law sittings in Galway, applications for maintenance or guardianship take between 4-8 weeks to be heard, compared to 6-8 weeks the previous year.

Last year, civil cases took 16 weeks to reach the District Court here, compared to an 8-12 week wait the previous year.

That compares to 12-16 weeks in Portlaoise and Letterkenny and four weeks in Roscommon and Waterford.

In the High Court, waiting times for civil and family cases stood at two months, unchanged from the previous year and the shortest in the country. The longest wait was recorded in Limerick at 25 months.

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