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Connacht Tribune

Councillor calls for less negativity on Galway 2020

Dara Bradley



A county councillor has complained that his city counterparts are engaged in too much negativity in relation to Galway city and county’s European Capital of Culture project.

Fine Gael’s Joe Byrne acknowledged there are some problems with Galway 2020 but he said there was a need now to “take a deep breath” to assess the situation and to determine what the legacy of the designation should be.

“There’s too much negativity, and a reactionary approach, mainly from some city councillors,” said Cllr Byrne.

“There are problems but sometimes you need to just take a deep breath, take a few weeks to sort out those problems. You need to take a deep breath and focus on the positivity and what the legacy of Galway 2020 can be.”

Cllr Byrne has asked Chief Executive of Galway County Council, Kevin Kelly, to provide an update on Galway 2020 at next Monday’s plenary meeting of the local authority. Mr Kelly is a member of the Board of Galway 2020.

“Even if he gives a brief update, and a commitment that Galway 2020 would come before us at another full meeting of the County Council to outline progress on the project,” said the Kinvara-based representative.

Cllr Byrne said the County Council was fulfilling its budget pledge of €2 million to the project – he said €6 million was never promised by the County Council, although that’s what Galway 2020 said it was getting from the County Council.

“I don’t know where that figure came from . . . but it’s not all about money, and it shouldn’t be always about money,” insisted Cllr Byrne.

Galway City Council has promised to stump-up at least €6 million to fund the project, which has been dogged by controversy.

Its chief executive, Hannah Kiely, stepped aside from her role last month, hot on the heels of the premature departure of the artistic director, Chris Baldwin.

Druid Theatre Company has withdrawn its flagship programme from Galway 2020 Galway, Middle Island, due to “loss of time, significant budget cuts and communications issues”. Druid said it would work with Galway 2020 on devising another, smaller-scale project.

Other organisations will also follow suit and ‘downsize’ their projects because budgets have been slashed, by as much as 80% in some cases.

Cllr Byrne acknowledged the “turmoil” that has beset Galway 2020 but he said there was a lot of positive stuff happening on the ground.

Over the weekend, he said, hundreds of people attended events in Ballinderreen as part of the ‘Sur La Mer’ (on the sea) Small Towns, Big Ideas Galway 2020 pilot project.

These Small Towns, Big Ideas projects are being rolled-out in may rural areas, he said.

“The legacy of Galway 2020 shouldn’t be a statue in Eyre Square, the legacy of Galway 2020 should be that we have developed and nurtured our heritage and our culture and that we celebrate it throughout the year,” he said.

“The importance for our city and county is the legacy which the 2020 project leaves behind and it will be as successful as we make it, despite fears of funding cuts, because one cannot underestimate the power of the voluntary sector in every community who want to be part of this project.

“I have asked Galway County Council CEO to brief county councillors at our meeting on October 22 at which time better assessment will be at hand rather than at present with so much reactionary assessment being made by many,” added Cllr Byrne.

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Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune tributes to loved ones




These past few months have seen so many communities left to silently mourn family members and friends, whose funerals they would have attended in such numbers, were it not for the current Covid-19 restrictions.

But those that are gone have not been, and will not be, forgotten – which is why we want to open the pages of the Connacht Tribune to you to tell their stories.

If you’ve lost a loved one, whether to Covid-19 or not, or if your community or organization or sports club is mourning the death of a valued member and friend, you can email us your tribute and we will publish it in our papers.


All you have to do it to click on the above link, and it will take you to a short set of questions which you can fill in – and then add whatever you feel tells the story of the life of your friend, family member or colleague.

You can email that with a photograph to us, to or you can post it to ‘Obituaries’, Connacht Tribune, 21 Liosban Business Park – and please enclose a contact number in case we have any queries.

We sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one at this awful time, particularly given that so many people were unable to mourn with them and their family in person – and we hope that this will help in some small way to show those family members that we are all united in grief, even from a distance.

This is an additional feature we are providing alongside our long-established weekly Family Notices section where loved ones are remembered immediately by Months Mind Notices and annual anniversary remembrances.  You can contact our team for further details at

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Connacht Tribune

Alison’s Euro Award for Covid information project

Dave O'Connell



Mike Feerick...found of Alison.

The Galway-established online course providing information about coronavirus in more than 70 languages – reaching over 350,000 people worldwide – is among 23 projects from the EU and the UK recognised for their outstanding contribution to fighting COVID-19 and its disastrous consequences.

The European Economic and Social Committee has awarded the Civil Solidarity Prize to the Irish learning platform Alison – founded by social entrepreneur Mike Feerick and based in Loughrea – for its free online course which was developed and published at the very start of the pandemic to educate as many people as possible about the virus, its spread and its effects.

The EESC, an advisory body representing Europe’s civil society at the EU level, selected the learning platform Alison as the best Irish candidate for the Prize, saying that its project “Coronavirus: What you need to know” stood out as a shining example of solidarity and civic responsibility during the COVID-19 crisis.

The online course was launched in February 2020 when the knowledge about the virus was still very scarce and the governments were still struggling with how to respond to the looming crisis.

With its training programme, based on WHO and CDC guidelines and continuously updated to include the latest information, the Irish platform has given people free access to potentially life-saving knowledge.

Translated in less than four months into more than 70 languages, with the help of 5,000 volunteers many of whom were immigrants, it had been completed by approximately 350,000 people as of September 2020. Some 100,000 people signed up for it in a single day.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www/

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Connacht Tribune

Covid a whole different ball game for Galway camogie nurse

Dara Bradley



Pictured at the presentation of a Galway jersey and message of thanks from Galway GAA to frontline workers at UHG this week were (from left) Galway Senior Camogie player and nurse Emma Helebert, Galway GAA Chairman Pat Kearney, Galway Senior Ladies Football player and nurse Tracey Leonard, Galway Bay FM commentator Tommy Devane, and Eoin McGinn, Assistant Director of Nursing.

Galway camogie star Emma Helebert doesn’t shy away from a question about Covid-19 anti-vaxxers and their online conspiracy theories.

“Personally, since this pandemic has hit, I’m allergic to social media over the whole thing,” she says.

A midwife at University Hospital Galway, the 2019 All-Ireland winner agrees that vaccines involve personal choice.

But that choice should be informed by trusted sources of information, such as the HSE or NHS websites – and not random often nefarious and anonymous contributors on social media.

“There are more reliable sources of information than turning to places like Facebook or whatever online forums are talking about it,” she says.

“What’s scaring people more than the actual thought of the vaccines is these opinions that are being forced down people’s throats and they’re seeing it every time they go on Facebook and scrolling on social media.

“My only advice to people who are scared is to do your own research. Go to the reliable sources of information and don’t believe what you see on Facebook.

“Unfortunately, there are people out there who create pages that are full of negativity or full of lies. It only takes one scary thought or piece of information you’ve heard to cling to you that’ll make you not want to get it,” she adds.

Read the full interview with Emma Helebert in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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