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Connacht Tribune

Boxing legend drops in on Galway friends for opening of pub

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Boxing legend Ricky Hatton was the main event – not for the first time – as the former world champion visited Galway city as special guest at a charity event held in Cooke’s Thatch Bar in aid of cystic fibrosis last week.

Cooke’s – one of Galway’s oldest thatched pubs dating back to the 1700’s – has recently been taken over by cousins Chris and Kenneth Corbett, with whom ‘the Hitman’ is very friendly through their time together in Tenerife.

Hatton often spends his free time on the island, where he owns a holiday home – and Chris and Kenneth used to run a pub in Tenerife where Hatton often called in for a chat and a pint.

With Chris and Kenneth having just opened their new pub, and having heard so much about Galway City from the cousins, Hatton saw it as the perfect opportunity to ‘kill two birds with the one stone,’ and make the trip to Galway.

“I always used to go in for a Guinness. We had common friends as well, and just hit it off. They always said they were from Galway, what a wonderful place it is, friendly town, real buzzing city – so I’ve got a few weeks off this summer from my gym, training my boys so I thought no better time to come down especially with them opening the bar.”

Hatton is one of the most decorated British boxers, winner of four world titles at two different weights, having fought two of the greatest boxers of all time in Floyd Mayweather Junior, and Manny Pacquiao, though he suffered defeat on both occasions.

For a lot of the greats, boxing is in their blood from the moment they’re born – but for Hatton, it was simply a case of trying it out, and falling in love.

“It’s just something I really took to from a young age. I did kickboxing first. I was better with my fists then with my feet and then I went to boxing. It basically went from there.”

“I was from a council estate. I was a little tear-away. I just wanted to go to the boxing club and fight. As I got used to it I enjoyed it more and from a little scallywag, it turned me in to, I’d like to think, a gentleman and that’s what boxing can do to people.”

Hatton turned pro aged 18 in 1997 and went on to accumulate a professional record of 45 wins (32 by knockout) and three defeats. He won world titles at both light-welterweight and welterweight but admitted that he found it extremely difficult competing as a welterweight.

“I wanted to try win world titles in different weight divisions like my heroes; so I moved up to welterweight, won the world title, but it was a struggle. In the end, I moved back down and then the challenge came to move up to welterweight again against Floyd Mayweather. If you get the chance to fight the best fighter on the planet even though it’s not your weight division, you’re going to do it aren’t you?”

But, despite holding his own for much of the fight, he eventually succumbed to his first pro defeat in the tenth round.

Two years prior in 2005, Hatton recorded his greatest win against Kostya Tsyzu to claim his first world title, the IBF light-welterweight title. Hatton described it as the highlight of his career.

“You could be a world champion but that doesn’t mean you’re the number one in your weight division there’s so many belts nowadays. Kostya Tsyzu was the number one in my weight division, number two pound for pound so that was probably my best win and it still goes down as one of the greatest ever wins in a British ring,” he said.

Before the Mayweather bout, Hatton had a 43-0 record. He lost three of his last five bouts but highlights his knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao as the toughest defeat of his career. Hatton was knocked out in the second round and subsequently went on to put his career on hold after the crushing defeat.

Today, he owns and runs his own gym where he trains and promotes fighters: “I train about nine boxers. I’m the only boxer I know of, British world champion that’s training a world champion. I train Zhanat Zhakiyanov from Kazakhstan who’s world bantamweight champion.”

While Hatton’s visit to Galway was a fleeting one, he has plans to come back in the future.

Chris Corbett expressed his delight at how the evening went and thanked everyone who has supported them since the opening of the bar.

“It was an absolutely brilliant night. Ricky was a gentleman. He entertained the locals with his boxing stories and was only happy to take pictures and sign autographs,” he said.

Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’

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Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!

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Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea

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Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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