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Connacht Tribune

Campaign grows to bring Dunguaire Castle back into business

Francis Farragher

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Pressure is mounting this week to reopen one of the most photographed sites along the Wild Atlantic Way – Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara.

The collapse of the tourist market from outside Ireland due to the Covid-19 emergency has meant that the iconic 16th century structure on the edge of Galway Bay has remained closed so far this season.

But this week, East Galway Fine Gael TD told the Connacht Tribune that he was hopeful a package of financial support measures would be put in place to get the doors of Dunguaire re-opened over the coming weeks.

“I know that as of this week, Shannon Heritage [a semi-State body that runs and manages the site] have submitted a detailed financial set of proposals in order to reopen places like Dunguaire.

“The message we are repeatedly hearing is for Irish people to holiday at home in 2020 so this makes it all the more important to have our major sites and attractions open for our home visitors,” Deputy Cannon told the Connacht Tribune.

He also suggested, that in the longer-term, it might be worth considering to put a site like Dunguaire Castle under the stewardship of the OPW (Office of Public Works).

“I just think that given the wonderful job the OPW has done with sites in Athenry and Portumna that there is certainly merit in considering giving them a similar role with the Kinvara site.

“This is one of the most photographed sites along the entire Atlantic Way – images seen all over the world – but we are now approaching the last week in July so there is a real urgency in getting it open again as soon as possible,” said Deputy Cannon.

Shannon Heritage also run the Bunratty Castle and St. John’s Castle attractions and last week in the Dáil, Deputy Cannon – along with TDs, Joe Carey (Clare) and Kieran O’Donnell (Limerick) – made the case to Minister of State, Hildegarde Naughton and Minister Eamon Ryan for the full reopening of the facilities.

According to Deputy Cannon, with the extension of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme ‘well past August’, the issue of salary payments should no longer be a major financial concern for Shannon Heritage.

Deputy Cannon also said that Minister Ryan had indicated a willingness to consider the provision of providing financial support for the group [Shannon Heritage] to ‘successfully operate’ the heritage sites.

“The loss of visitors to Dunguaire Castle is not only a blow for the employees of the Shannon Heritage group but it is also a major blow for the economy of the Kinvara and South Galway area,” said Deputy Cannon.

Dunguaire Castle was built around 1520 by the Hynes clan, reputed to be descendants of a High King of Connacht who ruled the province from his Atlantic fortress.

In the early 20th century, it was purchased by surgeon and poet Oliver St. John Gogarty who began restoration work on the castle, a project continued on by Christobel Lady Ampthill in the 1950s and 1960s, before the landmark site was eventually bought by the Shannon Development Company, the parent group of Shannon Heritage.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell

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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 www.connachttribune.ie

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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

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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 www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara

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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 www.connachttribune.ie

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 www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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