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Connacht Tribune

Athenry students give up their smartphones




Ask any teenager to hand over their smartphone for a week and they will look at you as if demanded they part with their life savings.

But that’s exactly what students in Coláiste an Eachréidh secondary school in Athenry have volunteered to do; reluctantly at first, but then they embraced it with vigour – and with most positive results.

Deputy Principal Seán Ó Mainnín’s second year Irish class were reading the book in class one day. The main theme of the story was online bullying.

And as the class discussed this issue, he got an idea. The Irish teacher asked his second-year students would they be able to go a full week without using their mobile phones.

He admitted that the 38 pupils were initially concerned about the thoughts of this.

“At first the students were worried but when one or two people agreed, the others convinced each other that it was worth a try,” he said.

The Irish teacher noticed that the students found the first two days away from their small screen difficult.

“It was definitely challenging for them initially. Luckily all the parents were on board and after a day or two the students adapted quite well,” he added.

The second-year group did not use their mobile phones from May 22 to 29 – an ideal time, as they were in the middle of preparing for their summer exams.

Mr Ó Mainnín says he believed that without the distraction of the mobile phones, the students in the All-Irish secondary school were better equipped to study for their tests.

“Without a doubt I believe it helped them to prepare. The parents were saying to us that there were less distractions for them without the phones,” he said.

The students completed the challenge as the deputy principal believes the initiative was a success for the teenagers and their families.

“The feedback we got was amazing and it was definitely a worthwhile experiment.”

Natasha Shionnaigh was one of the parents who believed that the experiment helped her daughter Amy to focus on her studies and improve her wellbeing.

“I think the ‘No Phone’ experiment was a very good idea. It highlighted to Amy the amount of free time she had. She used it by doing extra studying for her upcoming exams, going for walks and reading,” she said.

Sarah Kelly, whose daughter Katie went a week without spending time on her smartphone, said that her family will aim to use their phones less after seeing the positive effect it had on their daughter.

“The phone initiative was great for our house as Katie was definitely more engaged with her family and spent more quality time with us rather than updating snaps and talking in group chats,” she said.

After they successfully completed the week-long initiative, the students were treated to a fun filled trip to Bay Sports in Athlone, which is Ireland’s largest inflatable waterpark.

Mr Ó Mainnín said: “They were very excited with the trip and they did enjoy it. They thought it was an amazing experience.”

The deputy principal believes this initiative could be trialled across all the different year groups in the school.

“We could roll it out for all years. It was a good idea to start with one group first. We have had other groups look at the second year students and say we could do that too.”

Connacht Tribune

Galway’s newest garden centre has arrived at McD’s in Galway Crystal




Garden Centre in Galway City located in the iconic Galway Crystal Building

For over 10 years people have been flocking to McD’s Garden Centre in Loughrea to get the very best range for garden, home and much much more.

This weekend McD’s are proud to announce the opening of a brand new Garden Centre in Galway City located in the iconic Galway Crystal Building.

Nicely located with good parking and serviced by the 404 Newcastle to Oranmore bus, McD’s Garden Centre at Galway Crystal is a must visit location if you need anything from plants, shrubs, pots, garden furniture and more. They have a dedicated solar garden lights section, gorgeous array of water features and garden ornaments and practically everything you need for your garden.

Visit their Facebook today where they are running competitions and keep track of other promotions too. You can visit their website online at

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Connacht Tribune

UHG nurse battles for her life in ICU

Dara Bradley



Leona Paula ICU.

UHG remains braced to rapidly respond to any rise in Covid-19 patients as a result of a second surge – but the plight of one of their own colleagues this week showed just how precarious this pandemic can be.

Because while senior management at the Saolta Group vowed to stay ‘vigilant and alert’, a staff nurse at UHG was battling for her life in the hospital’s own ICU.

Leona Paula Leoncio, a 36-year-old mother of two boys, tested positive for Covid-19 last week, and was moved to ICU on Monday where she was intubated and ventilated.

The staff nurse, who had no underlying health conditions, is now battling for life in ICU at UHG, according to the Philippine Consulate in Dublin, which has urged people to pray for her.

Ms Leoncio moved to Ireland in 2017, with her husband and two children, to work in the country’s health system.

“We might have different faiths and beliefs but can I ask of you . . . to take a pause and say a prayer of healing and strength for her and her family,” said Chuck Giner, her nursing colleague at UHG, in a posting relayed on the Philippine Consulate’s social media.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune – along with all of the latest news on the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re on sale in all newsagents and supermarkets, and you can also order the Tribune with your home delivery; buy a digital edition here, or avail of the new An Post service to deliver to your door at no extra cost to the cover price.

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Connacht Tribune

Gort boy reunites Tipp star with broken hurl from famous point

Dara Bradley



Liam Linnane from Gort holding Brendan Maher's broken hurley from the All-Ireland semi-final club game. Photo: Hardiman Photography.

Tipperary All-Star hurler Brendan Maher has revealed that a young lad in Gort has found his long-lost hurl – the one he used to score one of the points of the last sporting year.

The broken hurl, the one that broke the hearts of St Thomas’ fans back in January, was used to fire over a point in Borris-Illeigh’s All-Ireland semi-final victory over the Galway club at the Gaelic Grounds.

Maher revealed last week that he tried to retrieve the hurl after the match to keep as a memento, but couldn’t find it. He subsequently got a letter from twelve year old Liam Linnane from Gort, who had found it.

“After I scored the point I got kind of carried away and I threw it over my shoulder into the open stand in the Gaelic Grounds. After the match, I thought I would really like to have that hurley but we could not find it and the club even contacted the Gaelic Grounds afterwards to see if it was found.

“Several weeks had passed and I’d given up on it when I got a letter from a young fella in Gort and I read down through it. He said he was twelve years old and that he was at the game where I scored the point with the broken hurley and that he had the hurley.”

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune – on sale in all newsagents and supermarkets, and you can also order the Tribune with your home delivery; buy a digital edition here, or avail of the new An Post service to deliver to your door at no extra cost to the cover price.

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