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Connacht Tribune

Capturing mood of the nation during lockdown

Judy Murphy

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Lifestyle – A stint as Ireland’s ‘Pandemic Poet Laureate’ on RTÉ radio inspired the latest collection from poet Rita Ann Higgins, which offers a unique insight into the early days of Covid-19 in Ireland.  A woman with a keen sense of social justice and great deal of wit, she also addresses several dark episodes from our recent history.  Rita Ann talks to JUDY MURPHY about her life and work.

Poet and writer Rita Ann Higgins wasn’t expecting to launch a new collection of work during 2020 – it’s only been a year since her previous book, Our Killer City, a mix of poetry and prose, and normally there’d be a gap of a few years between publications, she says.

But she wasn’t expecting a global pandemic either. And it’s why she’s produced this new collection, Pathogens Love a Patsy, which has just been published by Salmon Press.

At the very beginning of lockdown in mid-March, The Brendan O’Connor Show on RTÉ Radio One contacted Rita Ann to know if she’d written anything about Covid-19. At the time, she hadn’t because like most of us, she hadn’t really engaged with it. But she wrote a poem and sent it in. They didn’t use it. The following week she sent them another, which they asked her to read out. That marked the beginning of a weekly series that lasted until the end of June.

The cover of the resulting collection, Pathogens Love a Patsy, has a blurb from the English writer and critic Robert McCrum in which he describes the book as ‘a souvenir of the time when we laughed and cried for life and death’. It’s apt, because in poems such as Cocoonery, Knee Deep in NPHET, I Must Wash Down the Bannister and the title poem, Pathogens Love a Patsy, Rita Ann captured life in those early days of living with Covid-19. With rapier-sharp wit and precision, she chronicled the fear, worry and sense of being overwhelmed by this enormous and unknown event as people tried to retain some semblance of daily routine and an element of control, especially in the intense early days.

“I kept going up to the end of June when we thought it was the end,” she says.  “We know now it wasn’t the end, but the end of a stage.”

Pathogens Love a Patsy is divided into three sections, with the first part, Pandemic Poems having brought her a whole new audience, as all bar one of the 13 included featured on the Brendan O’Connor Show.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Real Estate have attractive site for sale on the Aran Islands

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Oghill, Inishmore, Aran Islands.

Galway Real Estate have an attractive site/property for sale at Oghill, Inishmore, Aran Islands.

The site is approximately c.150 square metres. (c.1600 sq. ft.) on c.1 acre with planning permission to convert to a dwelling house and fit a new waste water treatment system. Planning Ref: 17/1284. There are two years  left on planning. The planning is for a proposed 4 bedrooms, kitchen, dining/room, laundry/room, bathroom. This is a wonderful opportunity to get a property ready to go. Offers in excess of €125,000 considered.

Full details from Paddy Flynn 0872557618 or Galway Real Estate on 091565488 or email: info@galwayrealestate.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Aran to welcome Ireland’s largest domestic passenger ferry

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Saoirse na Farraige

The largest domestic passenger ferry in the country is making its journey from the Far East to the Far West – ready to commence service from Galway to the three Aran Islands.

The 40-metre ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ represents a massive investment – and vote of confidence – in island tourism on the part of the owners, Aran Island Ferries.

Commissioned in January 2019, this sixth member of their fleet has a capacity of 400 – and it is expected to arrive in Galway Bay from Hong Kong in October.

The vessel departed Hong Kong last week, embarking on a 2,500 mile journey to Galway Bay – inside the hold of a heavy lift ship called Svenja’”.

Saoirse na Farraige has at least three more stops to make before arriving in Galway Bay at the end of October – and it won’t not enter service until next spring.

Aran Island Ferries Sales and Marketing Manager, Aine McLoughlin, said that they were looking forward to seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands, enjoying the increased capacity, accessibility, and safety features.

“We are really looking forward to officially launching ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ next year and seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands on board our new ferry,” she said.

Saoirse na Farraige will serve all three islands from Rossaveel – with a journey time of 40 minutes to Inis Mór, 50 minutes to Inis Meáin, and 55 minutes to Inis Oírr.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Emergency Department upgrade will happen at UHG – but it’s complicated

Denise McNamara

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The current ED at UHG.

Revamping the emergency department at UHG will involve three separate projects – leading to the hospital’s chief describing the process as ‘very complex’.

City Councillor John Connolly (FF) said the people of Galway were concerned that the new emergency department – like the ring road – would never happen, as it appeared to be so bound up in red tape.

Joe Hoare, assistant national director of estates in HSE West, told the Regional Health Forum West meeting that that outpatients department adjacent to the emergency department was being redeveloped to create more capacity for streaming Covid patients from non-Covid patients for the winter.

The outpatients department would be relocated to the Merlin Park campus. The design for this building would be completed within ten months with construction expected to begin in by last 2021 at the earliest.

An interim emergency department was the next priority so that the current building could be knocked to make way for the new state-of-the-art building, creating a new maternity department and paediatrics unit.

Since the budget for the new children’s hospital had blown out of all proportion, the rules over public projects over €100 million had changed and the Saolta hospital group had to ensure its business case for the massive project was ‘watertight’.

Mr Hoare said all three projects were moving in parallel, including the enabling works for the main build, which would take around 18 months to complete.

He described the project as Saolta’s ‘absolute top priority and was regarded as such by the national HSE organisation.

Head of Saolta, Tony Canavan, said the project was ‘big and very complex’ and required management to remain ‘very focused over a long time’.

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

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