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Bionic woman Katie to open Galway Christmas Market

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Galway City’s Christmas lights will be turned on this Friday by a Galway woman who is the first person in the country to get a bionic arm.

It will be the first time Katie O’Halloran, a graduate of NUI Galway, carries out a public function while wearing her two new arms, one of them an advanced bionic arm that was fitted in the United States weeks ago.

In Boston she was fitted with 17 electrodes that connect the brain to her new right-hand bionic arm. To date only twenty people have been fitted in the US with this technology, so advanced is it. Katie says that she is excited but nervous about her public appearance.

She is the city’s guest of honour at the official opening of the Galway Continental Christmas Market and will turn on the lights at 6pm on Friday evening.

Katie, a native of the Connemara Gaeltacht, lives in the city and is currently focussing on getting used to her new arms.

She was born with Femur Fibula Ulna Syndrome leaving her without arms and a short deformed right leg.

For the past few years there has been a huge fundraising drive for her so she could travel to the US to get her iLimb Ultra Revolution hand which is directly transmitted to her brain.

“I wear the arms up to three and a half hours a day to get used to them and to practise using the right one which is directly connected to my brain.

“I now need to source an occupational therapist here in Galway to help me progress. I had weeks of it in Boston and I need to keep it up.

“I am excited but nervous about Friday as it will be my first time wearing the arms in public but it’s nice to show people where their money went to,” says Katie.

There were a number of fundraising drives for Katie in both city and county, including a stall at the Christmas Market last year.

Read more in this week’s Connacht Sentinel

CITY TRIBUNE

€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.

The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.

A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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