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Connacht Tribune

Finding peak happiness in nature’s wild places

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During training Lesley learned how to navigate safely off a mountain in the pitch dark or thick fog and how to cope with injuries while on a mountain.

Former management consultant Lesley Emin is taking full advantage of her scientific training in her current career as a mountain guide and walk leader here in Galway and in destinations across Europe. On a bracing climb in Beann Bán, she shares her story and her passion for geology, botany and orienteering with LORNA SIGGINS.

WALKING is one of the best forms of exercise, but it also a form of camouflage for something much more profound.

In the “production-oriented culture” in which so many of us live, “thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing”, according to north American writer, feminist and commentator Rebecca Solnit.

However, “doing nothing is hard to do”, she observes.

“It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking,” she says.

Perhaps that’s why mountain guide Lesley Emin is as enthused about a stroll along a stretch of her local coastline as she is about the many mountains she has tackled across Europe.

You sense that “bucket lists” might not be part of her vocabulary. And it might take an entire day spent out on a hill with her before she will allude to any of her many achievements.

Not for nothing did British academic and accomplished climber Terry Gifford ask her to come with him when he decided to tackle one of the most interesting rock climbs in Connemara.

The route was Carrot Ridge – so named by late mountaineer Joss Lynam after he took a novice climber up the daunting buttress, using a “carrot” approach to keep his partner from flagging.

Gifford described ascending a “marble staircase with little steps on its very left”, which was “designed by Michelangelo” as it reached into the clouds.

“When Lesley did her own thing, most things fell into place. Including lunch,” he wrote.

“The long day, route-finding and damp rock, built tensions that were immediately defused on belay ledges, where, at some point Lesley revealed a lavish lunch pack that only lacked the lobster sandwiches. . .”

Recalling her day with Gifford while on a walk up Benbaun or Beann Bán, Galway’s highest peak in the heart of the Twelve Bens, some months ago, Lesley makes light of it all.

Beguiling in the sunlight, Carrot Ridge across the valley from us had more than a hint of sulphur about it, and it was hard to believe that anyone could have much appetite for any sort of food while navigating its polished surface.

“Well, it was quite a long day, probably 12 hours,” Lesley laughs. When the pair eventually arrived down into Lough Inagh Lodge, the World Cup football final was underway.

“We were the only two people in the bar who hadn’t the slightest interest in watching the match!”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell

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Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara

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Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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