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Galway mountain rescue dog forced to retire

Ciaran Tierney



Hugo the Galway mountain rescue dog forced to retire

A popular English Springer Spaniel who has played a key role in searches for missing people throughout the West of Ireland for the past eight years has been forced to retire.

Hugo, who is a key member of the Galway Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), had been limping badly in recent weeks and a recent visit to the vet confirmed that he was suffering from arthritis in his front legs, joints, and elbow.

Together with his owner, Jarlath Folan, Hugo has taken part in countless mountain rescue operations throughout the past eight years in addition to helping out in search operations for people as far away as Cavan and Wicklow.

The nine year old was hugely popular with the 30 volunteer members of the Galway MRT, as he was the only trained dog in the region who regularly helped out on search and rescue missions. He had assisted in ten searches over the past two years alone.

“However busy we have been on the mountains, the commitment of Jarlath and Hugo to helping in searches was even greater,” said Alan Carr of the Galway MRT.

Both the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) and the Galway MRT played glowing tributes to Hugo’s work in rescue missions this week.

“Gardai and the Civil Defence would call them out on a regular basis to help in searches all across the country. Hugo was a tremendous asset to us. He would go into an area, pick up a scent, and greatly improve our efficiency as a search and rescue team,” said Mr Carr.

“That dog has passed multiple assessments and training courses. His retirement is not just a loss for the Galway team, it’s a loss for the rescue services all across the country. It’s hard to imagine how such a valuable member of our team can be replaced.”

Mr Carr said that it took “tremendous commitment” from Jarlath and his family to look after Hugo and maintain his fitness throughout the past eight years.

“I have him since he was a pup and would walk him twice a day,” his owner Jarlath told the Connacht Tribune. “I thought we would get another couple of years out of him, but we had no choice but to retire him after the x-rays showed he was suffering from arthritis.

“He’s the only dog of his type in the West of Ireland and some of the searches he was involved with lasted up to three days.”

Both Hugo and Jarlath featured in a film by Niamh O’Riordan entitled ‘Rescue Me’, which explored the unbreakable bond between them.

“After many years of loyal service, our beloved Hugo has decided to hang up the collar, put the rescue jacket away, and live a well-deserved life in retirement,” said a statement from SARDA this week.

“From everyone in SARDA, past and present, we wish Hugo all the best in retirement and hope to see him out for a visit on training weekends.”


‘Daredevil’ swimmers are a fatality waiting to happen

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – ‘Daredevil’ winter sea swimmers who dive or jump into the water in places like Blackrock during adverse weather are putting their own lives at risk – and possibly those of rescuers – by their actions, it was warned this week.

Water Safety Ireland have cautioned that the biggest single contributor to drownings in Ireland is what is known as ‘cold water shock’ – a condition caused by the sudden entry into a cold body of water.

There is now growing concern that a copycat trend is emerging with young people – without wet suits – diving or jumping into the sea in stormy or icy-cold weather.

Several people have been filmed on social media in the sea at Salthill during storms – with a number of them taking ‘running jumps’ off the diving tower at Blackrock.

Roger Sweeney, Deputy CEO of Water Safety Ireland, told the Galway City Tribune that people jumping into the sea during storms showed at best a reckless disregard for their own safety and in a worst-case scenario represented ‘a fatality waiting to happen’ for the jumpers – or the persons trying to rescue them.

“Jumping into cold water puts you at risk of cold shock which can result in immediate incapacitation and doing so in storm conditions can make it difficult to get back out of the water safely and promptly before hypothermia sets in.

“Hypothermia leads to the cooling of the muscles needed in the arms and legs to stay afloat. Drownings typically happen when someone over-estimates their ability and under-estimates the risks,” said Mr Sweeney.

Galway Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mike Swan, told the Galway City Tribune, that the key thing for all people who enjoyed the water and the sea was to carefully plan their exercise or hobby.

“Cold water shock is a real danger at this time of year for all swimmers. Be prepared – have your cap, ear plugs, mats, woolly cap [after leaving the water] and towels all in place. Check the weather forecast and check the tides – and never, ever just jump straight into the water during the colder season.”

(Photo: Diving into the water at Blackrock during Storm Bella in December)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Developer banks on boom in rental property market

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The backer of the Crown Square scheme in Mervue is planning an increase in the number of apartments in the development following a review of the economic viability of the project.

The 345 apartments will specifically target the rental market.

Crown Square Developments Ltd, which is operated by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has told Galway City Council that the amended plans will form part of a new planning application to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála under ‘Strategic Housing Development’ legislation.

According to the company, the property market has changed since it was granted permission in November 2019 for 288 apartments in three blocks ranging from five to eight storeys in height.

Mr Rhatigan has now sought planning permission for an 18% reduction in the overall size of basement levels and a reduction in car parking from 1,377 to 1,012 spaces. Cycle parking spaces will increase from 1,110 to 1,200.

The plan also involves the relocation of the vehicular and pedestrian access to the development on the Monivea Road, which will now be closer to McDonagh Avenue. The existing planned access is at the south-easternmost point of the site, but is now planned to move further west.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Former hurler has words of wisdom to help through absence of sport

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The sports psychology advice dispensed by performance and wellbeing coach, Tony Óg Regan, is not just geared towards elite and non-elite athletes – it is relevant to a virus-weary general public, too.

Take, for example, the former Galway hurler’s thoughts on the need to be proactive during this global pandemic.

“We have to be proactive around our own health and wellbeing, rather than waiting for a vaccination to drop on your lap or for things to change really quickly around the economy or whatever,” he says.

And his thoughts on consumption of news on social media will be familiar with anyone who has wasted hours down virtual rabbit holes scrolling through threads on Twitter or Facebook or videos on TikTok during lockdown.

“It’s okay to be aware of the news and the case numbers and vaccinations but we can’t be putting 90% or 95% of our energy and focus on that every day, because depending on how we are interpreting that information it could be driving stress and anxiety levels,” he says.

The advice is to be aware of the requirements around restrictions but ‘just don’t let it take up every waking hour and every waking thought’.

“Consciously and subconsciously we could be taking in a lot of news sources. When we scroll online, they reckon we take in 174 newspapers’ worth of information every day. Some of that could trigger anxiety and stress levels so it’s important we’re aware of that, and maybe don’t do things unconsciously.

“So recognise that you’re going on the phone now for 20 minutes, and you’re not on it for two hours and you’ve forgotten what you’re doing and it’s triggered anxiety.

“Focusing on things that we can control and influence and being proactive around health and movement and our conversations, what we’re listening to, what we’re reading. Those elements are so important to regulate stress and anxiety at this time,” says Tony Óg.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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