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Connacht Tribune

DJ hangs up headphones to become full-time dad – in Canada

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Neil Molloy – better known as Molly on Galway Bay FM’s breakfast show – has hung up his headphones for now to become a full-time dad.

The broadcaster was still in something of a state of shock when he caught up with the Connacht Tribune this week.

“I’m used to getting up at 3.30am and being on the road by 4am. Today I am after going for a walk, having breakfast with my daughter and talking to friends on the phone. I’ve a little bit of an empty feeling. I’ve worked my entire life since I was 15 – it’s strange not being answerable to anyone.”

The native of Attymon came to the difficult decision to quit his very popular ‘Molly in the Morning’ breakfast show due to a confluence of personal circumstances.

His partner Leonora O’Brien founded and runs a software company called PharmaPod which reduces medication errors by pharmacists and doctors. Her job entails a great deal of travelling. And following a major take-up of the platform across pharmacies in Canada, the family decided the time was right to base themselves in Toronto for up to a year.

Neil said they had become ships in the night. He was doing a round trip of 340km each day commuting from Killucan, Co Westmeath.

By the time he returned home he was too exhausted to spend quality time with their daughter Fódhla, who is just 20 months.

“All she wanted was full-on daddy. It was getting to the stage that all I wanted was go to bed. I was going to bed the same time as babba,” he laughs.

Neil has been fronting Molly in the Morning since early 2015 with Ollie Turner. Their ratings have shot up from 12,000 to 24,000 in that short time, garnering them two national PPI radio awards, one for best entertainment inserts, the other for best comedy show.

Their sketch about Storm Emma featuring retired weatherman Gerald Fleming set to the 1990s Vanilla Ice hit ‘Ice Ice Baby’ attracted more than 200,000 views.

“I can safely say that I’ve never worked with anyone as good as Ollie before. He was very easy to bounce off. What I wanted on the show was to be a part of people’s lives in some way. The amount of text message we’ve got has been incredible, saying they loved us sharing our stories, so it’s clear we achieved that,” he muses.

“There’s not many jobs where you can be jumping around a studio every day. I loved getting the people of Galway on air – whether it was 80-year-old Bridie or a teenager.”

Neil started on Galway Bay FM 20 years ago as a broadcaster. He left to run the Hop Inn Pub in Athenry for ten years but the lure of the media never left him. He worked for a spell on Clare FM and starred as the character Martin Muff on the popular magazine show Republic of Telly.

He’s currently finishing filming on that show’s spin-off, Bridget & Eamon, playing Garda Paul.

He is not ruling out a return to radio at some stage. But for now his focus will be on raising baby Fódhla and settling into their new life in Canada – and where ever else life brings them.

“I’m glad I’m able to do it. This is the next step. Why wouldn’t I do it? It’s my own flesh and blood. It gives me a great chance to give the time that up to now I haven’t been able to give. I’m looking forward to a new chapter.”

‘Molly’ is being replaced by Alan Clarke who joins Ollie Turner on the breakfast slot.

To follow Molly on his journey you can add him as a friend on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or follow him on Instagram.

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Connacht Tribune

Unauthorised developments in County Galway go unchecked for months

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The Planning Enforcement Section of Galway County Council is so understaffed that complaints of unauthorised developments are not being investigated for months, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

In one case, a complaint alleging a house was under construction in a picturesque and environmentally sensitive part of Conamara without planning permission was not investigated by the Council for at least six months.

And it can be revealed that there is a ‘large’ backlog of complaints of unauthorised developments in the county, which the Planning Enforcement Section at County Hall has blamed on staff shortages, according to correspondence obtained by the Connacht Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

In response to repeated requests by a concerned member of the public to intervene and investigate an allegation of unauthorised development in an environmentally protected area of Conamara, the Council’s Planning Department indicated it was too stretched.

“Unfortunately, the planning enforcement section is experiencing a period of prolonged staff shortages and consequently there are a large number of files awaiting investigation/review,” it said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Access Centre provides pathways to University of Galway for the disadvantaged

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Photo of Imelda Byrne

Great leaps have been made in recent years to make access to tertiary level education a realistic prospect for once marginalised groups in society.

With the deadline for CAO applications approaching next week, the Access Centre at the University of Galway is aiming to reach as many underrepresented groups as possible ahead of next academic term.

Head of the Access Centre, Imelda Byrne (pictured), said research has shown that those who once felt third level ‘wasn’t for them’ are increasing their presence at UG, and bringing a richness to the sector that had for a long time been missing.

In the five years up to 2021, there was a 100% increase in the number of students registering for the Disability Support Service at the university, while those coming from Further Education and Training courses in institutes like GTI had surged by 211% over four years.

“The message that we really need to get out there is that the CAO is not the only route into third level. There are a number of pathways,” says Imelda.

“There are loads of places set aside for students coming from a place of disadvantage,” she continues, whether it’s national schemes such as the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) for socio-economic disadvantage; or the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE); or the university’s own programme for mature students.

Those places are there to ensure those from all backgrounds get an opportunity to reach their education potential, tapping into hugely talented groups that once may have missed that opportunity.

“What we have seen is that when they get that opportunity, they do just as well if not better than other students,” continues Imelda.

For HEAR and DARE scheme applicants, and for those hoping to begin higher education as a mature student, next Wednesday’s CAO deadline is critically important.

But beyond the CAO applications, the Access Programme will open up in March to guide prospective students, whatever challenges they are facing, into third level.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council ‘missing out on millions’ in derelict sites levies

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Photo of Cloonabinnia House

Galway County Council is missing out on millions of euro in untapped revenue due to a failure to compile a complete Derelict Sites Register.

That’s according to Galway East Sinn Féin representative, Louis O’Hara, who this week blasted the news that just three properties across the whole county are currently listed on the register.

As a result, Mr O’Hara said the Derelict Sites Levy was not being utilised effectively as countless crumbling properties remained unregistered – the levy amounts to 7% of the market value of the derelict property annually.

The former general election candidate said Galway County Council was ill-equipped to compile a proper list of derelict sites and called on Government to provide the necessary resources to tackle the scourge of dereliction across.

“There are still only three properties listed on Galway County Council’s Derelict Sites Register . . . anyone in Galway knows that this does not reflect the reality on the ground and more must be done to identify properties, and penalise owners who fail to maintain them,” said Mr O’Hara.

The situation was compounded by the fact that the Council failed to collect any of the levies due to them in 2021.

“This is deeply concerning when we know that dereliction is a blight on our communities. Derelict sites attract rats, anti-social behaviour and dumping, and are an eyesore in many of our local towns and villages.”

“The Derelict Sites Levy should be used as a tool by local authorities to raise revenue that can then be utilised to tackle dereliction, but they are not adequately resourced to identify and pursue these property owners,” said Mr O’Hara.

(Photo: The former Cloonabinnia House Hotel is on the Derelict Sites Register).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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