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Community fights back with a DIY approach

Judy Murphy

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Fiona O'Driscoll, Teresa Clay and Barry Kilroy of The Burren Lowlands, at the Kiltartan Gregory Museum. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Judy Murphy meets the people behind a Gort-based initiative to help overcome years of tourism neglect

God helps those who helps themselves might have been a motto coined for the Gort-based Burren Lowlands community group, which kicked into action just over a year ago.

The Burren Lowlands covers a geographical area around South Galway taking in Ardrahan and Kinvara, stretching as far as Crusheen in Co Clare, and ranging from the Burren uplands to the Sliabh Aughties.

But despite its rich heritage and associations with some of Ireland’s best-known literary figures, including WB Yeats and Lady Gregory, this place has been neglected by State organisations, especially those tasked with promoting tourism.

South-East Galway was hard hit by the recession and by the closure of Duffy’s meat plant which had been a major employer in Gort and South Galway. Many of the Brazilians who had settled there during the boom, moved home and local young people emigrated, so the population plummeted.

However, the community decided to take matters into their own hands to ensure the area recovered and was not completely forgotten by tourists in the excitement of the Government-backed Wild Atlantic Way.

Last year, without a penny of State funding, despite having made several submissions, a community-run tourist office opened in Gort’s town’s square, in a premises donated by businessman Mike Mullins of nearby O’Grady’s Bar and Restaurant.

The day it opened, there were tourists outside the door waiting to get in, says businesswoman Fiona O’Driscoll of the Burren Lowlands group. Staffed by volunteers and via a Tús Scheme, the Burren Lowlands tourist office hasn’t looked back since.

While there are definite signs of an upturn in Gort on a busy Friday afternoon, the last few years have been hard, according to Fiona.

A new motorway led to Gort being bypassed during one of the worst recessions Ireland has ever endured, while Galway County Council also introduced parking charges, something that made no sense in a market town, she feels.

But people have joined forces to create change, and it’s working, adds Fiona, for whom “the possibilities here are endless”.

The Burren Lowlands group is all about promoting local events and focusing on “education, business, tourism and heritage,” she explains over coffee in O’Grady’s, which is filled with lunchtime customers.

The people involved in its establishment included representatives of community and business groups as well as Teagasc Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, the co-author of the Burren Lowlands Economic Development Study.

“From that main group, we set up about 10 other little groups to look at education, business, tourism, culture and heritage,” outlines Fiona.

However, they felt that establishing new businesses was too big a challenge because of the start-up costs and payment of Rates to the County Council.

“So we said, ‘let’s work with what we have and we know we have tourism’,” she says.  They decided on a tourist office.

With attractions such as Coole Park, Thoor Ballylee and Kilmacduagh all within shouting distance of Gort, it was just a question of making visitors aware that these places existed and that they were major tourism sites. Gort is fortunate in that it gets a lot of visitors but most are passing through, she adds, so they needed a place to find information.

“We are so near Shannon Airport and so near the Wild Atlantic Way. We are just 10 minutes from the coast and half of the visitors we got last year came from there.”

The others came mostly from Shannon.

“Most of them wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher, Galway and Westport. They didn’t know what was here,” Fiona remarks. “The Government hasn’t spent a penny on this town.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Moving forward with new wisdom

Stephen Glennon

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According to Gerry, the pace at which many people live their lives isn’t sustainable.

Lifestle – Top sports psychologist Gerry Hussey has written a book designed to help more people unlock their potential and enrich their lives. He explores big issues including science and spirituality and shares his own story to demonstrate to readers what they are capable of, as he explains the importance of taking care of ourselves and each other in order to achieve real freedom. He tells STEPHEN GLENNON how it evolved.

Sports psychologist Gerry Hussey has enjoyed great success guiding Olympic and World champions, elite sportspeople and top teams to reach their goals. With his new book, Awaken Your Power Within, he hopes to enable more people to unlock their potential.

Over the past two decades, the Glenamaddy native’s reputation has grown hugely. Also known as ‘The Soul Coach’, he’s now regarded as a leader in sports psychology.

Having also studied philosophy and theology in college, Gerry was always interested in exploring bigger questions about a person’s place in the universe. He’s done that in this book.

The Covid-19 lockdowns gave Gerry the opportunity to delve deeper and write Awaken Your Power Within, to help people walk the path of self-discovery and open their minds to their untapped possibilities.

He believes the “natural interest” in exploring these issues has grown during the pandemic, with people questioning what is really important in life.

“They are now asking ‘do I really want to go back into the old way? What part of the old life do I want to bring back?’ We lived in this haze of busy and everyone we met was busy. It had become so normal that people were busy and tired.”

The pace at which many people live their lives isn’t sustainable, Gerry says. In this book, he wants to show that if a person is on the go 24/7, the body will respond by producing more stress hormones.

“Eventually, there is a damaging impact on our physical health. I want to prove with the science in the book that if we live in this constant state of go-go-go, eventually the body will break down.”

Gerry had this book in his head for almost a decade, but it wasn’t until two years ago that “something clicked”. That was when he spent three intensive days with renowned author, Dr Joe Dispenza, whose teachings marry science and spirituality in his book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.

“I came out of there and said I know the shows I want to do, and created these things called ‘Soul Sundays’. We ran them and they sold out. I think, when he was connecting quantum physics and how the energy field of the universe connects to the mind and the body, then it clicked.”

Until then, Gerry had sometimes struggled to balance his belief in God with elements of science, but Dispenza helped him understand the connections. He now says the answers to life’s bigger questions can’t be found in just one field, but many, including theology, psychology, quantum physics, medicine, nutrition and neuroscience.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

Stephen Corrigan

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During an ESB power strike in April 1972, petrol pumps had to be operated with a winder, but Declan Forde of Prospect Hill, Gawlay City, found a more novel way of doing it - using a bicycle. The back tyreless wheel of the bicycle was connected to the pump by a belt, with the pedals rotating as petrol was pumped. Declan commented at the time: "This unique method brought us more customers, because by using the bike we pumped the petrol three times faster than the ordinary ESB current." Also in the photograph are Pat Kenehan (right) watching Joe Flaherty operate the pump.

1921

Bad buying policy

It is interesting and useful to speculate how far the conditions that prevailed at Galway great annual fair on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were due to its postponement on the one hand, and to the circumstances of our time on the other.

No doubt, the enforced adjournment and the uncertainty as to when the fair would be held combined to reduce the attendance.

It is possible that stock which, in the ordinary course, would have been taken to the fair had it been held at the appointed time, were disposed of by other means. Against this we have the fact that the fixture in point of attendance and sales was smaller than a normal monthly fair.

The truth is that cumulative causes contributed to its partial failure. Of these the postponement was only incidental. Only 159 wagon loads of stock left Galway during the two days against 259 at the annual fair last year and 360 the previous year.

Whilst the Midland Great Western Railway Company did all that could have been expected in the circumstances to assist in making the fair a success, the Great Southern did practically nothing at all. Six wagons were placed at the disposal of purchasers by the latter company on the Limerick-Sligo branch.

This is illustrated by the fact that most of those who attended Galway fair arrived on the evening before; few ventured to make the journey on the actual morning of the fair. Again, buyers report that owing to the difficulties of transport, and the recent unnecessary foot and mouth scare, they cannot tranship cattle to anything like the same extent as formerly, and owning to the prolonged drought, there is a shortage of grass for grazing in the rich midland counties where extensive buyers keep their stock from one fair to the other.

Apart from these causes, another much more interesting explanation is given. It is suggested is that the country farmer has not yet realised that there is a considerable drop in prices, and has not adapted himself to the new conditions.

This fall, it is clamed, is likely to be retrogressive under present conditions. The cost of living is falling, and must fall still further in order to restore “the economic balance”. Yet farmers prefer to hold back their stock in expectation, apparently, that something like old prices will be restored, rather than part with them. This, a cattle-buying expert informs us, is bad policy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Bagging a bargain in dream designers

Denise McNamara

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Gucci GG Marmont reversible belt.

Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Whether you’re into handbags or shoes, watches or suits, designer brands are always going to be expensive. However, it may surprise you to learn that their cost varies dramatically around the world.

Research from money.co.uk analysed the price of luxury fashion items in different countries to reveal the cheapest – and most expensive – countries to buy iconic designer goods if you happen to find yourself with a sneaky Lotto win.

As part of this Luxury Price Index, the company researched items that have stood the test of time and have long been a staple of the wealthier wardrobe.

Some of these are actually investment pieces – hold onto them and sell them on ebay in years to come and see that investment potentially double – or even triple.

And if you can save over a grand in the process, all the better.

That’s particularly true of designer bags.

Or pass them onto your kids and grandkids who will hopefully still see vintage as cool.

There might even be a bargain or two or Father’s Day on June 20 – if you are well minted.

And with delivery now so much cheaper than even five years ago, actually buying a piece forever online is more than feasible. Just insure it. There’s no harm dreaming the odd time!

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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