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Galway man leads project to build first native electric car

Denise McNamara



A Dunmore man is leading a project to build an electric car reminiscent of the last car to be built on the island three decades ago.

Like the DeLorean DMC-12 – which played a starring role in the Back to the Future movies – the ‘Alex eroadster’ will have lifting doors attached to the roof which will boast solar panels for a power boost.

Not only designed to look futuristic, more importantly the design aims to shed weight to improve speed.  In fact this model electric car promises to be 30% lighter than most similar sized cars weighing in at around 700kg. They can do this by using advanced composite materials including carbon fibre and kevlar – a material used in bullet proof vests and glass.

Crucially the vehicle also claims to address previous concerns which have dogged electric cars – the distance a car can travel without the need to charge up.alex27

Project manager Tom Finnegan, a native of Gurteen, Dunmore, insists the Alex eroadster uses new improved battery technology and lightweight structural technologies to greatly increase range between charges. The lightweight chassis is being designed by Ecomove in Denmark.

“This car will have lots of acceleration and a good overall top speed,” said Tom.

“The battery cells have a very large energy density giving a greater power to weight resulting in more kilometres per charge.  The car can travel 250 – 300kms before charging, getting you to most places in Ireland at a fraction of the cost of conventional cars without having to recharge.  This is well over twice the range of electric cars currently achievable by cars on the Irish market.”

The vehicle will have the battery units stored beneath the floor and the back wheels will be powered by two lightweight AC motors providing rapid acceleration allowing it to easily reach motorway speeds.

A recharge will take 20 to 30 minutes or as Tom puts it, ‘just enough time for a coffee break’.

Irish company Swift Composite Prototypes based in Dunleer, Co Louth, plans to build a new car a week when it enters the market in late 2016 if all things go to schedule. CEO of Swift Gabriel Mathews said ‘he is really excited at the prospect of building this car’.alex26

The car is in the design phase with a working prototype car expected to be soon unveiled. The expected cost of the Alex eroadster is tipped to be around €30,000.

Tom has been developing the idea for some years and produced his own prototype at his Co Roscommon home.

The project took a leap forward when he was partnered with Swift Composite Prototypes – manufacturer of wind turbine blades and components for land transport vehicles – and several universities by the EU programme Vital, which gives financial support and matches entrepreneurs with firms to commercialise ideas or inventions.

“We approached the whole project from the point of view of addressing the problems currently associated with electric cars in general and also public perception of electric cars as a workable alternative to the internal combustion engine,” said the Swift CEO.

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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