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Fury as playground becomes a health hazard for children

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Local residents are up in arms that their much loved park has become the ‘Wild West’ of Galway.

Regular users of Doughiska Park contacted the Galway City Tribune about the state of the park, claiming the grass has not been cut all summer and the area has become a faeces-laden den where children and adults alike are at risk of serious accident due to the lack of maintenance.

Two dead rats were recently discovered at the entrance to Merlin Woods school.

Walkways have become extremely overgrown with weeds and brambles. Boulders which had been placed by the Council to prevent a Traveller encampment have been moved to the centre of the park and are being used by kids to jump off.

Doughiska Park was opened to much fanfare six years ago as a vital resource in an area under intense pressure due to rapid development in the boom years. However, it is now regarded as a no-go area by a large section of the community, according to one resident who bought a home there 11 years ago.

“Myself and my friend were walking up there the other week and there were two dead rats at the entrance to the school. It was absolutely disgusting,” remarked Rosaleen Garvey.

“The wooden slats on the path have become so grown over that if you fell, you’d break your leg. The place is used as a playground by dogs who run around without a leash and is full of faeces – there’s no signs up and when you ask people to pick up after their dog or put them on a leash, you’re told where to go.

“I was told by one man that I should be on a leash myself. My friend who is training for a marathon was bitten by one of these big dogs, she was also hit with a stick and abused verbally by one of the Travellers now living there. It’s got to the point we can’t go there anymore.”

Ms Garvey said she and several neighbours have rang Galway City Council several times and emailed the Parks Department to clean up the park.

Local residents Valerie Carroll (left) and Rosaleen Garvey at the blocked roadway entrance to the park at Doughiska and Merlin Woods.

Local residents Valerie Carroll (left) and Rosaleen Garvey at the blocked roadway entrance to the park at Doughiska and Merlin Woods.

But all to no avail.

In response to warnings that the boulders posed a health and safety risk to children, one official told her they had not been put there by the local authority.

“And then they’re on about stopping the kids from playing ball on the beach. One councillor is selling bottled air, another wanted the dustbins painted – you couldn’t make this up. All of us pay for those people to be in jobs. I went to a meeting once and it was like a bad episode of the Muppets.”

Some locals who used to take it upon themselves to pick up the broken bottles, cans and papers strewn throughout the green have given up in despair.

“All through the summer this has been left as a wasteland – the grass is five feet high. It’s like the wild west,” insisted Ms Garvey.

“It wouldn’t happen in Salthill or Barna, but because the majority of people who live here are foreign nationals they don’t care. People here are obviously not shouting loud enough.”

Connacht Tribune

Record crowds pack Ballinasloe to celebrate Fair’s 300th anniversary

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Crowds flock to the Fairgreen at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair.

RECORD crowds packed into Ballinasloe last weekend for the return of the famous October Fair – but it turned to be a ‘dry day’ for the punters with most of the pubs in the town taking the decision to close their doors on Sunday.

Hotels in the town also adopted either a ‘food only’ or ‘residents only’ policy through Sunday but Gardaí reported a trouble-free weekend in the town.

“There were huge crowds around and especially so on Sunday, but we had no reports of any trouble – it was practically an incident free weekend,” said a Garda spokesperson.

Many visitors to the Fair on Sunday expressed disappointment at the decision of the pubs to close  – although a few establishments did open their doors with special security arrangements in place.

The last ‘official fair’ took place in October, 2019, and while there was an unofficial event last year, it was only a small gathering due to the Covid restrictions.

An estimated 3,000 people turned out for the free open-air country music concert with Mike Denver in the Square on Sunday afternoon and Fair organisers also reported a very busy sales day with many horses changing hands.

Trustee of the Ballinasloe Showgrounds, Gerry Stronge, told the Connacht Tribune, that after a three-year break, the crowds had really thronged back into the town on Sunday.

“Most people I know that have been attending the Fair for years said that it was biggest crowd they had ever seen there on the first Sunday of the event.

“It was an incredible day – the streets were absolutely jammed with people – and it was most enjoyable with no trouble whatsoever,” he said.

Get the full story with loads of photos in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Compo can keep sex abuse dad out of jail

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Galway Courthouse.

An estranged father who sexually assaulted his then-ten-year-old daughter seven years ago will escape a two-year jail term – if he pays her €12,000 within the next twelve months.

Counsel for the 51-year-old man, who cannot be identified in order to protect the identity of the victim, indicated at Galway Circuit Criminal Court this week that his client would avail of Judge Brian O’Callaghan’s offer and would sell off some of his assets to raise the €12,000.

Earlier in the sentence hearing, the now-17-year-old victim told the court the seven-year delay in bringing her father to justice had caused her and her mother untold grief and suffering.

“It’s been seven years, dealing with court dates and adjournments and only now, seven years later, have I got the closure I needed,” she said.

The judge apologised to her and everyone else involved for the delay in finalising the case.

“Even allowing for Covid, it is without question that the judicial, legal, criminal system has failed all parties in this case and it’s appropriate I should give that apology,” Judge O’Callaghan said.

Prosecuting state counsel, Conall MacCarthy, said the man maintained his innocence when arrested and interviewed in April 2016.

He had been due to stand trial on two occasions in the last few years but each time his trial was adjourned for various reasons, including Covid.

He then pleaded guilty, moments before his trial was eventually due to get underway last November, to a charge of sexually assaulting the girl on August 15, 2015, at the family home near a Co. Galway village.

Sentence was adjourned on four occasions since to await the results of a probation report before it was finalised this week.

Resd the full court report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Hero’s welcome for king of the high seas

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Atlantic rower Damian Browne holds a flare as he enters Galway Docks to a hero’s reception. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

“I just had a deep belief I was going to complete it – and nothing was going to stop me.”

Those were the words of former Connacht rugby player and now transatlantic rower Damian Browne who returned to a hero’s welcome at Galway Docks on Tuesday, just hours after his mammoth journey came to an end on the rocks at Furbo.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, 42-year-old Browne’s vessel, the Cushlamachree, came ashore just down from Pádraicín’s – not the ending the Renmore man wanted for his epic trip from New York to Galway.

The journey was due to end at the Docks at 11am on Tuesday morning, but as it turned out, Browne had a few hours at home before being met by huge crowds who, despite the rain, came out in their hundreds to welcome the extreme adventurer back.

Children from schools across the city were among the hoards of people who lined the Harbour, including those from his alma mater, St Joseph’s (The Bish) who formed a guard of honour with oars to greet Browne.

His arrival to the Docks, escorted by Galway Harbourmaster Brian Sheridan, was met with endless cheers as drumbeat and flares signalled the end of his four months at sea.

“The winds coming from the south were blowing me up through the Aran Islands and it was great to get me through the islands, but then they kept pushing me towards the north coast of Galway and nothing I could do would stop them,” says Browne of the final hours of his journey.

“Before I knew it, I was at Pádraicín’s and heading for Barna, trying to get into Barna Pier to anchor down . . . it was very tense. I saw two rocks that I knew were there, but I thought I was further out, and then I had to whip the boat around.

“I had about two seconds to whip it around, 270 degrees, and head straight out to sea, but as I did, I got hit by a massive wave.”

The boat capsized, one of his oars broke and it was at that moment he knew it was time to get up on the rocks and call for assistance.

Get the full dramatic story – and full coverage of the welcome home – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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