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Epic moment in flying history

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The Vimy takes off, next stop Europe.

Lifestyle – The achievement of Alcock and Brown, who completed the first ever trans-Atlantic flight 100 years ago in June is being marked by a new edition of the book, Yesterday We Were in America. THOMAS HACKETT learns how its author Brendan Lynch captured their adventure.

This June will mark the centenary of one of the most significant aviation feats in history – when two men first flew the Atlantic, to land in the soft soil of a Connemara bog.

And while the story of Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten-Brown is a familiar one, an updated 100th anniversary edition of Brendan Lynch’s riveting Yesterday We Were in America leaves no stone unturned.

The book tells the tale of the first men to conquer the Atlantic, flying their Vickers Vimy biplane from St. John’s in the Canadian island of Newfoundland to Clifden to claim their place in aviation history.

This first ever non-stop trans-Atlantic 1,880-mile, 16-hour flight came a mere 16 years after the Wright brothers had first taken to the air in 1903.

Remarkably – despite the fact that Alcock and Brown were essentially flying blind as a result of severe cloud cover – the aviators landed only 20 miles off their original target.

Brendan Lynch’s book traces the men’s lives, from their humble beginnings in Edwardian Britain to their war-time experiences in captivity, right through to their eventual fame.

The book’s title, Yesterday We Were in America, comes from the immortal words uttered by Captain Alcock to a group of incredulous Marconi station workers after he and Brown crashed landed in Derrygimla Bog near Clifden.

Although Alcock and Brown enjoyed radically different backgrounds, their paths to aviation glory shared many similarities.

Both grew up in the Manchester area of England and both showed a flair for mechanics from a young age.

Alcock was first exposed to aeronautics as a teenage apprentice in the workshop of Empress Engineering in Manchester, while the studious Whitten-Brown proved a proficient mechanic and driver by the time he was 17.

However, like most men throughout Europe, their lives and careers were transformed by the momentous events of the First World War.

When the war broke out, Alcock was training pilots for the Royal Naval Air Service – but as the demands for skilled pilots grew, the young Mancunian was pressed into service in the Dardanelles.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan

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Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan

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Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley

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Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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