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Connacht Tribune

Former GP’s clinic swaps humans for pets!

Dara Bradley

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For nearly 30 years, generations of Barna families went through the surgery in Truskey West of Dr Ann Gibbons – the village’s well-liked and respected General Practitioner.

Now, just over ten years after her passing, there’s hustle and bustle back in the former GP clinic . . . with sick mammals of a different sort!

Because the late Dr Ann’s eldest son, John Mulligan (36), has opened up a veterinary clinic in the very same building his mother cared for and treated so many people.

Barna native John and his business partner, Sara Roche, the daughter of dairy farmers from Kylemore in Abbey near Portumna in East Galway, set-up West Coast Vets a year ago.

And it’s been thriving – the pair officially launched a new dedicated ‘small animal’ clinic recently, too.

John’s family always kept animals at their home in Truskey West, including poultry, horses, cats and dogs and for many years he had it in mind to return there to set up a veterinary clinic in his mother’s clinic. “It definitely was always in the back of my head,” he said.

After completing his Leaving Cert at Garbally College in Ballinasloe, John studied Microbiology at UCG (now NUIG), and used that degree to get onto a Veterinary course in the University of Glasgow.

It was during this five-years course he met Sara, who was in the year below him in the same course, having studied Biomedical Science in Galway first.

John graduated in 2011 and worked in the north of England in the countryside of Northumberland, an hour from Newcastle; and when he returned to Ireland he worked firstly in a veterinary clinic in West Donegal and then in Kilcormac, a village in rural Offaly between Birr and Tullamore.

All those places were what John calls “proper old fashioned mixed practices”, just like West Coast Vets in Barna.

“A lot of people in my class haven’t seen a cow since they graduated. Other lads were vice versa and never wanted to chat to a dog or cat owner again and concentrated on dairy cows. I love the mix. I might see a cat in the morning, a horse in the afternoon and I might be up in the middle of the night with a calving cow,” he said.

The clinics catchment is wide – it takes in Barna, Moycullen, Furbo, Spiddal, Knocknacarra, Galway City and Connemara – which offers that mix.

“People are delighted that we’re this side of town. If you want to pop in for penicillin for a sheep, you don’t have to drive the far side of town with the traffic, which would be a two or three-hour trip from An Cheathrú Rua,” he said.

John is fluent in Irish, which is another bonus in Connemara. “A lot of the old timers, and some of the young people as well, prefer to speak Irish. It’s the day-to-day working language of a lot of people.”

And there’s no shortage of work, John insisted. “There’s plenty of work if you want it. There’s nobody in Connemara with 150 dairy cows, but there might be 150 lads with two cows, and they need to be looked after. They’re very attached to their animals and their animals probably get better individual care than some of the animals I’ve seen on massive big farms.

“They’re getting properly minded and properly individually fed. On a small Connemara farm where you might have 10 cows, the lame cow is looked after properly.

“The other thing you have in Connemara is the pony, the Connemara pony. There’s so many different farms with one mare or two mares and they all have a foal every year and they need minding. Then there’s such a growing population in Barna with cats and dogs. So it’s a real mixed job and it’s busy,” he said.

More than 120 mostly clients and some friends attended a barbeque at West Coast Vets’ first birthday celebrations last weekend.

“It was like the loaves and the fishes! We had a side of beef, 40 beef burgers, 50 venison burgers, 60 chicken pies, and a suckling pig, a salmon and a dozen mackerel! We were celebrating the fact that we’ve a year under our belts and we’ve just opened a dedicated small animal clinic. And it was just a way of saying ‘thank you’ for all the support we have received since opening,” added John.

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Connacht Tribune

Student nurses face all the risk – for no reward

Dara Bradley

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Working on the children’s ward of a busy hospital during a global pandemic is no joke; less funny still when you’re not getting paid for your toil.

All the risk and none of the rewards of qualified staff – that’s the lot of Edel Moore, a student nurse who is currently on placement at University Hospital Galway.

Edel, and hundreds of student nurses like her on placement in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, want more than a round of applause and platitudes from Government.

“None of us want a pat on the back for struggling. We’d just like to be recognised,” she said.

“The Government are full-time talking about front-line workers, and they want to give them a ‘clap hands’. Then you see Junior Ministers getting massive raises. For what? What have they done for us, the student nurses, that they’re getting a €16,000 wage increase?

“We’ve put ourselves through a four year degree but all I’m worth is a clap? Thanks! It’s ridiculous. They say that front-line workers deserve all the help they can get but it just seems that the ones who are able to give us the help we need are not going to give us the help that we deserve.”

Edel Moore is a mature student originally from Westmeath but living in Leitir Mealláin in Connemara with her husband and three children.

A third year student nurse of NUIG, she is currently on placement at the paediatric ward at UHG.

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

Island museum gets the green light

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Inishbofin museum.

Work is expected to begin shortly on the construction of a museum on Inishbofin after planners gave the green light to the project.

The museum at Middlequarter is being developed by local historian and photographer Marie Coyne – and when completed, it will be home to items of historical significance from both Inishbofin and Inishark.

There is an existing museum on the island but it is too small to house the amount of artefacts, photographs and family histories that have been assembled over the years.

The new building will also include a photographic exhibition room, restoration workshop along with a gift shop and coffee dock. It is proposed that the new 3,400 square feet museum will be built on a site at the rear of Ms Coyne’s home.

Eamon Gavin of Eamon Gavin Architects based in Cornamona told the Connacht Tribune that this was an important project for the island and it was a welcome decision.

And he said that the green light would kickstart the process of conserving the vast and unique artefacts and archives built up over the years.

“As a practice, we have a long history of dealing with planning consultancy on unique rural sites in Connemara and the islands, therefore we fully understood how sensitive the proposed location of the project would be – the site is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Heritage Area,” he said.

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

Tuam woman a picture of health a year after Covid crisis

Declan Tierney

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Tuam's Kitty Farrell with her dog Lulu a year after her Covid diagnosis.

Last year was a Mother’s Day like no other for Kitty Farrell who spent it in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital with Covid – but the 80 year old Tuam woman can look forward to a more sedate celebration this time out….thankfully restored back to full health.

Kitty, from Ballygaddy Road, had developed a debilitating cough the previous week – and when she was admitted to UHG on Mother’s Day, she tested positive for the coronavirus despite a lack of symptoms.

The retired businesswoman spent the next nine days seriously ill in isolation – and all alone as her four children could not visit her.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come through it but I was so sick that at times, it didn’t really matter. But the thought of passing away in isolation made a bad situation even worse,” Kitty said at the time.

A year on, she is back to full health, and while she restricts her movements, Kitty told The Connacht Tribune that she is just happy to be alive and she spends her days ‘pottering about’ and looking forward to the arrival of family members.

“Even though I don’t particularly agree with the current lockdown because everyone should be responsible for their own behaviour, I am living a life of relative isolation at the moment,” she said.

Read Kitty’s 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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