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Bionic woman Katie to open Galway Christmas Market

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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

Connacht Tribune

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised

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Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Siblings find each other – and their Connemara roots – after 80 years

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Reunited...Pat and Miceál McKeown outside their mother Síle’s birthplace in Carna.

By Erin Gibbons

A family separated for over 80 years was reunited at the end of an emotional journey in Connemara last weekend – thanks to DNA testing and the expert help of heritage researchers.

Pat McKeown, who lives in Staffordshire in the UK, is the daughter of Síle Gorham from Roisín Na Mainiach, Carna – but she was given up for adoption and reared for a time in a Belfast Mother and Baby Home.

Now, at the age of 81, she found her roots – returning to her mother’s native place for the first time last weekend, in the company of her long-lost brother Micheál.

It was an emotional end to a lifelong search for her roots that even led her to hire a private detective to try and locate her family and to discover her name.

All of this proved unsuccessful – and she had effectively given up her search when she was contacted unexpectedly by a man called Miceál McKeown, who turned out to be her brother.

Micheál – an artist and sculptor – and his daughter Orla had made the connection through DNA testing, after Miceál too had set out to discover more about his own roots.

That revealed that Síle Gorham had married Michael McKeown in 1939, and Síle went on to have three more children named Áine, Séan and Miceál.

Pat visited Connemara last weekend for the first time to learn about her mother Síle and the Connemara ancestry which she feels was robbed from her for her entire 81 years.

She was accompanied by Miceál, his wife Rosemary, daughter Orla and son-in-law Rueben Keogh.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Student leader’s stalker hell

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Róisín Nic Lochlainn

The President of NUI Galway Students’ Union has spoken out about her terrifying harassment ordeal at the hands of a 17-year-old stalker who left her fearing for her safety.

Róisín Nic Lochlainn told the Connacht Tribune that she felt ‘such relief’ when the news came out last week that the young man who spent months putting her through hell online had been brought before the courts in Dublin for a similar campaign of harassment against a BBC NI journalist.

The 17-year-old from Malahide, Co Dublin, who cannot be named because of his age, pleaded guilty to the harassment of reporter Aileen Moynagh at Dublin Children’s Court last week.

It transpired he had used up to 40 aliases to send Ms Moynagh abusive and threatening messages on various social media platforms and by email. It is understood that the teen has a compulsive disorder and Asperger’s.

Ms Nic Lochlainn said she had sleepless nights and sought the help of Gardaí and the university’s chaplaincy service amid a slew of threats directed at her over much of 2020.

“It was actually terrifying. I know it might sound stupid, but I would check the bathroom in my room every night before going to bed. It was keeping me up at night,” she said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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