A Loughrea-based businessman has created his very own “Winter Wonderland” in his front lawn – in an effort to raise much needed funds for cancer care throughout the west of Ireland.
Located close to the Meadow Court Hotel on the main Craughwell/Loughrea road, Kevin Tuohy has decked out his garden in spectacular fashion, which has seen many passers-by take the time to stop and marvel at the impressive display.
Describing himself as ‘a child at heart’, Kevin has been putting together these notable Christmas lighting displays for many years now, but this is his first time doing so in aid of charity.
“Everybody was saying last year and the year before, ‘why don’t you do it for a charity?’ So, this year I said fair enough – I’d do it for cancer. I got a friend of mine to make two metal trees about three and a half to four metres (in height) and I ordered in pink lights. So, I made two purposely pink trees for cancer,” he said.
The display which contains approximately 32,000 lights, usually only contains two colours red and blue, but this year Kevin added in pink to coincide with the cancer care theme.
“I have music and the whole lot. The minute that the Christmas lights come on the music starts and it will be playing constantly.
“I have a list of people who helped me, through maintenance or whatever, so I put a thank you list out on the road and there are signs up on the front for Cancer Care West,” said the LED aficionado.
He is expecting an increase on his electricity bill of around €150 to cover the extra lights during the period.
As well as that cost, the businessman – and developer of Galway’s first crematorium on the outskirts of Ballinasloe – has also given up three and a half weeks of his time, usually working five hours a day, in the construction of this splendid spectacle.
Speaking about the overall cost of purchasing the lights he joked: “My wife doesn’t even know that.”
“It’s a good few thousand. I have been building it up bit-by-bit but this year we added a good bit into it just to make it. Between the signage, the lighting, the pink lights, the music. It’s lovely and we get severe crowds out there,” he added.
Donations can be made through a chute at the front of the house which is safely secured in a steel box attached to the wall and all proceeds will be given to Cancer Care West at the conclusion of the Christmas period.
Record crowds pack Ballinasloe to celebrate Fair’s 300th anniversary
RECORD crowds packed into Ballinasloe last weekend for the return of the famous October Fair – but it turned to be a ‘dry day’ for the punters with most of the pubs in the town taking the decision to close their doors on Sunday.
Hotels in the town also adopted either a ‘food only’ or ‘residents only’ policy through Sunday but Gardaí reported a trouble-free weekend in the town.
“There were huge crowds around and especially so on Sunday, but we had no reports of any trouble – it was practically an incident free weekend,” said a Garda spokesperson.
Many visitors to the Fair on Sunday expressed disappointment at the decision of the pubs to close – although a few establishments did open their doors with special security arrangements in place.
The last ‘official fair’ took place in October, 2019, and while there was an unofficial event last year, it was only a small gathering due to the Covid restrictions.
An estimated 3,000 people turned out for the free open-air country music concert with Mike Denver in the Square on Sunday afternoon and Fair organisers also reported a very busy sales day with many horses changing hands.
Trustee of the Ballinasloe Showgrounds, Gerry Stronge, told the Connacht Tribune, that after a three-year break, the crowds had really thronged back into the town on Sunday.
“Most people I know that have been attending the Fair for years said that it was biggest crowd they had ever seen there on the first Sunday of the event.
“It was an incredible day – the streets were absolutely jammed with people – and it was most enjoyable with no trouble whatsoever,” he said.
Get the full story with loads of photos in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.
Compo can keep sex abuse dad out of jail
An estranged father who sexually assaulted his then-ten-year-old daughter seven years ago will escape a two-year jail term – if he pays her €12,000 within the next twelve months.
Counsel for the 51-year-old man, who cannot be identified in order to protect the identity of the victim, indicated at Galway Circuit Criminal Court this week that his client would avail of Judge Brian O’Callaghan’s offer and would sell off some of his assets to raise the €12,000.
Earlier in the sentence hearing, the now-17-year-old victim told the court the seven-year delay in bringing her father to justice had caused her and her mother untold grief and suffering.
“It’s been seven years, dealing with court dates and adjournments and only now, seven years later, have I got the closure I needed,” she said.
The judge apologised to her and everyone else involved for the delay in finalising the case.
“Even allowing for Covid, it is without question that the judicial, legal, criminal system has failed all parties in this case and it’s appropriate I should give that apology,” Judge O’Callaghan said.
Prosecuting state counsel, Conall MacCarthy, said the man maintained his innocence when arrested and interviewed in April 2016.
He had been due to stand trial on two occasions in the last few years but each time his trial was adjourned for various reasons, including Covid.
He then pleaded guilty, moments before his trial was eventually due to get underway last November, to a charge of sexually assaulting the girl on August 15, 2015, at the family home near a Co. Galway village.
Sentence was adjourned on four occasions since to await the results of a probation report before it was finalised this week.
Resd the full court report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.
Hero’s welcome for king of the high seas
“I just had a deep belief I was going to complete it – and nothing was going to stop me.”
Those were the words of former Connacht rugby player and now transatlantic rower Damian Browne who returned to a hero’s welcome at Galway Docks on Tuesday, just hours after his mammoth journey came to an end on the rocks at Furbo.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, 42-year-old Browne’s vessel, the Cushlamachree, came ashore just down from Pádraicín’s – not the ending the Renmore man wanted for his epic trip from New York to Galway.
The journey was due to end at the Docks at 11am on Tuesday morning, but as it turned out, Browne had a few hours at home before being met by huge crowds who, despite the rain, came out in their hundreds to welcome the extreme adventurer back.
Children from schools across the city were among the hoards of people who lined the Harbour, including those from his alma mater, St Joseph’s (The Bish) who formed a guard of honour with oars to greet Browne.
His arrival to the Docks, escorted by Galway Harbourmaster Brian Sheridan, was met with endless cheers as drumbeat and flares signalled the end of his four months at sea.
“The winds coming from the south were blowing me up through the Aran Islands and it was great to get me through the islands, but then they kept pushing me towards the north coast of Galway and nothing I could do would stop them,” says Browne of the final hours of his journey.
“Before I knew it, I was at Pádraicín’s and heading for Barna, trying to get into Barna Pier to anchor down . . . it was very tense. I saw two rocks that I knew were there, but I thought I was further out, and then I had to whip the boat around.
“I had about two seconds to whip it around, 270 degrees, and head straight out to sea, but as I did, I got hit by a massive wave.”
The boat capsized, one of his oars broke and it was at that moment he knew it was time to get up on the rocks and call for assistance.
Get the full dramatic story – and full coverage of the welcome home – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.