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Connacht Tribune

Former Mayor laments ‘huge void’ since abolition of town councils

Declan Tierney



A former Mayor of Tuam has called for the restoration of town councils as he believes that a huge void has been left since they were abolished three years ago.

There were town councils in Tuam, Ballinasloe and Loughrea – all of which elected nine local representatives – but they were scrapped as part of local government reform back in 2014.

But now Martin Ward, who created history by becoming the country’s first ever Traveller Mayor, believes that the town councils should be restored as they served a vital function for the towns in question.

As part of local government reform, five municipal councils were established across County Galway but Mr Ward says that these are not very effective and have no budget at their disposal.

There are municipal councils in the Tuam, Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Athenry-Oranmore and Connemara electoral areas who meet on a monthly or by-monthly basis but questions have been raised about their effectiveness.

Martin Ward told The Connacht Tribune that he did not believe that they adequately represented their respective areas and that is why he is calling for the town councils to be re-established.

He said that the abolition of the town councils left “a huge gap” that had not been filled by the municipal councils and he was not in the process of lobbying local TDs to have them restored.

“The town councils had their own budgets, albeit quite small, but we had enough to help out quite a number of voluntary organisations like tidy towns and those involved in the performing arts.

“There were nine of us on the town council in Tuam and we were the eyes and ears of the people who elected us. Towns the size of Tuam, Ballinasloe and Loughrea need their own representation and that is why I believe that the local councils should be restored.

“The abolition of the town councils was not a cost-saving measure as they didn’t take a lot of money to operate but at least we had access to senior Council officials and could raise issues that affected the town.

“I don’t believe that the municipal councils properly represent a town the size of Tuam. There are only three members of this body living in Tuam when we had nine members who were resident in the town and were always available to the public,” Martin Ward said.

Mr Ward added that he would have no problem standing for election again but his preference would be for a restored Tuam Town Council which he believes was more effective than the current municipal council. “They just don’t have any identity,” he said.

The former Traveller Mayor said that the Tuam Municipal Council area is “too stretched” in that it covers an area from Headford to Glenamaddy and says that the town with a population of more than 7,000 is not adequately represented.

“We used to honour individuals and groups for their achievements during the course of each year but all that is gone. Hopefully, after the next general election, the town councils will be restored as they played a hugely beneficial role,” he added.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



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

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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



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

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



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

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 or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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