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Connacht Tribune

Beggars flock to Galway for easy pickings




People are flocking to Galway to beg because they know there are “easy pickings” to be had during the summer months, a judge has warned.

Judge Mary Fahy said the people involved are not homeless and they are not migrants before she issued a warning at Galway District Court this week that they face a month in prison if convicted of begging.

The judge made the comments while dealing with Romanian national, Marian Avadanei (26), of no fixed abode, who pleaded guilty before the court this week to blocking the passage of pedestrians while begging at Wolfe Tone Bridge on Wednesday afternoon, July 5 last.

Defence solicitor, Michael Cunningham, who was assigned to represent Avadanei under the Free Legal Aid Scheme, said his client had come Galway two weeks ago immediately after arriving in Ireland.

His client had instructed him (through a Romanian interpreter appointed by the court) that he was homeless and sleeping rough in Eyre Square, accompanied by his grandmother, aunt and other members of his family.

Judge Fahy observed the man had only been in Ireland for two weeks and he was already before a court for begging. She told him begging was not permissible in this country and it carried a one-month prison term on conviction.

Hearing Avadanei was sleeping in Eyre Square, Judge Fahy asked him what was the point of him and his family coming to Ireland with no place to live and with no means to support themselves.

The interpreter said the man had told her he and his family had been brought to Ireland by a man from their village and were put to work with no pay.

“Who put them to work?  Did they go to the Gardaí and report the people who brought them here?” Judge Fahy asked.

Avadanei said he wasn’t able (to report them).

Judge Fahy noted he had signed a bail bond in the Garda Station when he was first arrested last Wednesday and he knew he had to be in court this week.

Through the interpreter, he said the Gardaí had got another interpreter for him in the Garda Station.  He had followed the instructions of the guards but he didn’t know what he had signed.

Judge Fahy said he could have made a complaint to Gardaí while the interpreter was in the Garda Station. “I have no clue,” Avadanei replied.

Judge Fahy imposed a one-month sentence on the accused for begging and she suspended it for twelve months on condition he be of good behaviour during that period.

She warned him that if he was brought before the court again for begging he would serve a sentence.

Avadanei signed a bond in court agreeing to the condition of the suspended sentence but Judge Fahy noticed he had just scribbled at the bottom of the document and she instructed him to write his name properly instead.

Through the interpreter, he said he couldn’t read or write.

Judge Fahy said it was odd how a person who claimed he couldn’t write his name, was able to travel to Ireland.

“It’s very difficult to understand that someone can’t even sign their name.  They’re able to get here, they’re able to travel around the country, they’re able to get details of flights.

“The thing here is, these people are coming in as migrants because it’s summer in Galway and there are easy pickings and that is what is going on.

“I’m warning this man and others like him that if they come in here on similar charges they are looking at prison sentences because people in Galway are inundated with beggars during the summer.

“It’s very suspicious that they only come to Galway in the summer when things are getting good.

“They’re not homeless and they’re not migrants in the proper sense of the word,” Judge Fahy said.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell



Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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