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Connacht Tribune

Free Rein – Trip of a Lifetime in 1980’s Ireland

Judy Murphy

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Mollie, who helped Hilary find her feet in Connemara, died in a cliff-fall in Kerry.

Accidental travel writer Hilary Bradt embarked on the adventure of a lifetime in 1984 when she undertook a solo 1,000-mile journey on horseback along Ireland’s west coast. Her four-month odyssey began in North Connemara and ended in Waterford. Along the way she encountered joy, heartbreak and wonderful kindness, as she tells JUDY MURPHY.

My life has been a lot of mistakes that turned out well,” says Hilary Bradt who arrived in Galway in early May 1984, after a stressful journey that had entailed trains, buses and a ferry from England.  Along the way, the black plastic bin-liners in which she had stowed her luggage had ripped and her packing was falling to pieces.

“I was exhausted when I got to Galway and thought, ‘this is a stupid idea’,” she recalls, nearly 40 years later.

But there was no time for self-pity. Hilary had a pony to purchase as part of her plan to trek Ireland’s west coast on a solo adventure that would involve exploring bogs and glens, camping far from the beaten track, along the coast from Mayo to Waterford.

The four-month journey which started in Galway brought joy, wonder, loss, sorrow, warmth and peace, although it’s taken her nearly 40 years to document it fully, due to mislaying an early draft about the trip. That’s now been rectified with her book, A Connemara Journey: A thousand miles on horseback through western Ireland.

English-born Hilary was a seasoned traveller in 1984, having previously trekked extensively in South America and in East and North Africa with her ex-husband George.

But well-travelled as she was, Hilary didn’t realise, when setting out by bus from England to Ireland that she and her belongings would have to alight once the bus got on the ferry. She mightn’t have gone with refuse sacks had she known, she laughs ruefully.

She survived and after arriving in Galway, set about buying a Connemara pony. Before leaving England, she’d been given a couple of names to contact, among them renowned Loughrea horseman, Willie Leahy, whose Dartfield Horse Museum is one of the treasures of East Galway.

“I hate telephoning people but I stood in a public phone box with a couple of coins and phoned one after another. Finally, I found Willie who had a selection of proper Connemara ponies.”

This polite Englishwoman began negotiating with Willie, a veteran horse-dealer, who assured her he had the perfect pony. They haggled for three days. When Willie finally told her he’d get more money by selling the animal for meat, Hilary was horrified. She haggled no more, and paid the asking price for Mollie, “a gorgeous, gorgeous pony”.

Willie was a tough negotiator, but he was also a decent man and invited Hilary to accompany a pony-trekking group he was leading in North Connemara.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash

Enda Cunningham

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A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.

At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.

The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Salthill Garda Station (091) 514 720 the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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Connacht Tribune

Wake-up call as United are pummelled by lively Athlone

Keith Kelly

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Galway United substitute Wilson Waweru who scored a consolation goal in their 3-1 First Division defeat to Athlone Town on Friday night.

Athlone Town 3

Galway United 1

IT turned out to be a Bad Friday for Galway United in Athlone as they were outthought, outfought and outplayed by a home side that deserved a far greater reward than a two-goal victory.

All the damage was done in the first-half, with the home side scoring three goals without reply in a 14-minute spell that left the visitors visibly shell-shocked and in danger of shipping an absolute hammering.

United manager, John Caufield, described the first-half as the worst United display since he took charge at the club midway through last season, but it was worse than that: this was 2011 Sean Connor bad (one win in 40 matches), it was 2001 Dave Connell bad (one win in 13).

Both of those seasons ended in United dropping to the First Division, and the First Division is where they will find themselves against next season unless there is an immediate improvement in performance and attitude, starting with this Friday’s trip to Stradbrook to take on Cabinteely.

The post-mortem examination on last Friday should not solely focus on United’s wretchedness: Athlone Town were hugely impressive in recording a first win over United since May 2006, though it should be noted the sides have met just 13 times since the Town dumped United out of the FAI Cup thanks to a 2-1 win in May 2006, a game that saw the end of Stephen Lally’s reign as United manager.

“Galway playing with three at the back, you know, they’re almost three centre-backs really rather than full-backs and we just knew that would be an opportunity for our players to get at them and take them on and I thought James Doona and Adam Wixted did that very well tonight,” Athlone manager Adrian Carberry told the website www.extratime.ie after the game.

In truth, that was something of an understatement – Wixted and Doona ravished the United back-three in the opening 45 minutes, with all three of the home side’s goals coming from out wide.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Galway couple take life in the fast lane after losing jobs to pandemic

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The Luv2Swim set-up in Carrowbrowne.

A Galway couple who both lost their jobs because of the pandemic are back on the crest of a wave – after opening a swimming pool that allows them to teach and coach swimmers, right beside their family home.

Fitness-loving husband and wife John and Shelly Newell have always had a passion for swimming – but it took the devastation of losing their jobs during Covid to spark the idea of turning it into a highly-specialised business they called Luv2Swim.

They had an idea to build an endless swimming pool and start swimming lessons and swim video analysis in their own private facility, three miles outside Galway city in Carrowbrowne.

And while Level 5 Lockdown has forced them to close for now, their single lane pool will be back, providing a unique facility for adults and children in a safe, fun, and friendly environment.

“Both of us had lost our jobs due to the pandemic and while out walking with our girls, I threw the idea out to John and it took legs from there. It was the beginning of a family business venture,” Shelly said.

But this was more than just a light bulb moment during lockdown; John and Shelly were aware of a recurring problem they had heard many times over the years – people’s anxiety about coming into an overcrowded, noisy, large pool environment.

“Luv2Swim would be Galway’s only private swimming studio providing one-to-one swim lessons and video analysis for adults and children. Swimming is such a vital lifesaving skill and it’s a skill you will have for your whole life,” said John.

See 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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