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Galway motorbike enthusiasts make life or death deliveries



Emergency voluntary service Blood Bike West has expanded its fleet of motorcycles with the launch of its latest vehicle, ‘Juliet’.

Blood Bike West is a charitable organisation which comprises a number of motorbike enthusiasts who volunteer to provide an emergency out-of-hours free service to the HSE in the West of Ireland.

They collect and delivering all manner of urgent medical items such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and other urgent medical equipment and supplies from North to South and East to West.

As the charity moves into its third year of operation, demand for its services continues to grow, resulting in a need to add Juliet to the already efficient fleet. Juliet was launched at an event which was hosted at Western Motors in Ballybrit by Mayor of Galway, Cllr Donal Lyons.

“Blood Bike West were a Mayor’s Award Prize winner in 2014 for their services to the community, and we wanted to both thank Galway City for the honour of the award, and have our mayor be involved in the naming ceremony for our latest fleet addition,” explained PRO of Blood Bike West, John Moylan.

Despite its youth, the charity has already adopted a tradition; that is, naming its fleet after people they have engaged with in some special way. Each motorcycle is named after a patient who has been helped by Blood Bike West, or who had a special connection with the charity.

“Our current motorcycle, Sophie, is named after a young lady with whom we have been involved for a few years now, and whose dad, Vincent, is now part and parcel of our entourage, whilst our launch night for the motorcycle, Juliet, has an equally special connection,” said Mr Moylan.

Juliet, a 700cc Honda, is named after baby Juliet Quirke, born in 2014. In the course of the pregnancy, Juliet’s mother was in need of a specialist transfusion before Juliet was born, and as part of that process, Blood Bike West were required to perform a very urgent run of blood samples to Dublin.

The resultant medical care that followed the run ensured that baby Juliet was born healthy to mum Gabriella and dad Alan, thanks to Blood Bike West rider Mick Carty who was on call at the time.

“When we were looking for a name for the bike, we remembered this trip, made enquiries via the hospital and learned the whole Juliet story. So Mam, Dad and Juliet joined us for the formal naming and rollout of our latest steed, and we were delighted to have them with us. We do think it is worth making the connection for us as well as patients and the medics involved,” said Mr Moylan.

Blood Bike West’s mission is to act as an Emergency Rider Voluntary service, which aims to relieve sickness and protect health by providing urgently-needed medical supplies between hospitals and blood transfusion banks.

The charity’s hours of service are 7pm to 7am Monday to Thursday, and the group is on call from 7pm on Friday through to 7am on Monday (24-hour weekend coverage), to ensure nobody goes without urgently-needed supplies over the weekend.

“At times of curtailment of services in health for reasons of resources, the role of charities in general is more important than ever,” said Mr Moylan.

“There is the added social benefit in involving local people in a community effort for the good of those who need our help. And specially-focused charities like Blood Bike West can offer not only relief from the resource issue, but also an opportunity for the required service to improve on that even normally available.

“For example, what Blood Bike West does in particular is allow the clinicians to continue their great work, freed from any undue issue of whether a particular task happens seamlessly in an out-of-hours or emergency situation, just by calling us. As Blood Bike West provides the service free of charge, it allows clinical decisions to be made on a clinical basis, not a logistical one.”

But because the service is voluntary, it relies on help and donations as it grows from strength to strength.

“Funding is the bane of every charity, but a vital one, and we hold events such as our upcoming Bingo night in Athenry on May 22, as well as other events and collections throughout the year,” he said.

The charity also provides a marshalling service for road-based sports events as a way to raise funds, as well has bringing a number of business sponsors on board to help with costs – though they will always welcome more sponsors.

“But we need people. There is more to Blood Bike West than riding a motorcycle. We need committee and volunteer posts filled, controllers, organisers, fundraisers. The act of moving our deliveries on a motorcycle is but a part of it.”

You can make a donation through or by texting BLOOD to 50300.

Connacht Tribune

Galway historian’s 14 new books bring running total to 70!



Steve Dolan.

There may be a book in everyone – but producing 18 of them for publication in one week is taking it to a different level. And yet that’s what Galway historian Steve Dolan has done for Heritage Week. . . adding 18 books this year to bring him up to 70 over the last seven years – and he’s firmly committed to hitting one hundred.

By day – and given the workload, increasingly by night – he is the chief executive of Galway Rural Development (GRD), but the Carrabane resident has had a lifelong passion for history. And that’s what he turns to as a form of relaxation which peaks at this time every year.

Not alone that; he already has the first five of next year’s publications completed – and he’s only starting!

This year’s booklets are all on the theme of Gaelic Games and every one of them is in aid of a different community group or charity. Theoretically, they are limited editions, but – given his own love of the subject matter – he won’t see anyone who shares that passion miss out.

While all eighteen new publications share that GAA theme, the diversity of subject matter within that is breath-taking – and an incredible achievement in terms of the workload and production.

From the story of the county title that Liam Mellows were robbed of in 1942 to the contribution of An Cath Gaedhealach to Galway GAA in 1947/48 or Galway’s 1923 and 1925 All-Ireland victories to sport in County Galway during the revolutionary years; the books are as much about social history as about sport.

See the full list of publications in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

And if they are of interest to you, you can contact Steve at to buy them.

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Connacht Tribune

Why did Galway suffer just half as many Covid deaths as Mayo?



Galway and Mayo, two neighbouring counties, have had hugely contrasting experiences with Covid-19-related deaths.

Analysis of the latest figures reveals that Mayo’s Covid mortality rate is more than double that of Galway’s.

The disparity has prompted a Galway West TD to call for an investigation to see what caused the disparity.

Fresh data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) shows that Covid deaths in Galway have topped the 250 milestone.

Up to the end of July, HSPC has been notified of some 251 Covid deaths in Galway since the Pandemic was declared in 2020.

This gives a mortality rate of 97.3 per 100,000 population, which is the second lowest of any county in the Republic after Sligo.

During the same timeframe, neighbouring Mayo notified 296 Covid deaths, which gives a mortality rate of 226.8 per 100,000.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from 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

Hurling legend’s distillery plans for heart of Conamara



Joe Connolly....Conamara vision.

Plans have been lodged to build a multi-million euro whiskey distillery on the Conamara coastline – the brainchild of Galway hurling legend Joe Connolly and his family.

And if it gets the green light, it will square a circle that has its roots firmly in the same Conamara soil – where both of the All-Ireland-winning Galway captain’s grandfathers were renowned distillers too . . . only of the illegal variety.

The plans for the Cnoc Buí Whiskey Distillery & Heritage Centre outside Carna – lodged by Údarás na Gaeltachta on behalf of Drioglann Iarthar na Gaillimhe Teoranta – describe a facility that will provide a first-class visitor experience and greatly enhance the local area’s tourism offering.

Once complete, Cnoc Buí will comprise the distillery itself, bonded warehousing, a bottling hall and tasting bar – as well as the heritage centre, shop and café.

That will create over 30 jobs in the first five years, with the heritage centre alone aiming to attract 16,000 visitors in the first year of operation – rising to at least 52,000 by year five in Iorras Aithneach, an area blighted by unemployment and emigration.

On top of that, their own economic analysis envisages the creation of another 130 jobs in the Carna/Cill Chiarain area – in leisure, hospitality and accommodation on foot of that significant increase in visitor numbers.

The Connollys see Cnoc Buí as ‘an asset which will enrich the entire community’.

“It will enhance the local tourism product and serve as a focal point for both the local community and visitors,” said Cnoc Buí director Barry Connolly.

“The building has been carefully designed to reflect the beauty of its surroundings, because we want our distillery to be an attractive hub, with its Visitors’ Centre and Tasting Bar. It will provide employment, draw in tourists and add value to other business in the area,” he added.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from 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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