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Galway mountain rescue dog forced to retire



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.”


Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport



From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.

The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.

According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.

Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.

Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.

A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.

However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.

In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.

Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.

Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.

The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.

Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.

Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.

Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Pamela’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Racecourse Park and Ride a non-runner for Christmas in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The lack of a park and ride service this Christmas will drive shoppers out of town at a time when businesses are struggling to recover from months in lockdown, the Mayor has warned.

This is after it was revealed that the City Council has failed to secure an alternative location for the service – with its usual base at Galway Racecourse out of action due to the ongoing vaccination programme.

The service, which had previously operated for the three-week period in the run up to Christmas, enabled motorists to park their cars in Ballybrit and take a return trip by bus to town at a cost of just €2 – taking hundreds of cars out of the city centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Colette Connolly, said it was ‘completely ludicrous’ that it would not be in operation this year, in a city that was already gridlocked with car traffic.

“I think that it is a retrograde step not to proceed with the Christmas Park and Ride because we know what will happen – we’ve seen before what happens at the Corrib Centre around Christmas where traffic backs up and people get stuck in the car park,” said the Mayor.

This would result in shoppers from outside the city avoiding coming in, while others would go to other towns and cities to avoid traffic misery.

“They will go to Limerick or to Dublin, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. They will go to Athlone, because they may as well go there, rather than spend two hours sitting in traffic on Lough Atalia,” added the Independent councillor.

In Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath’s report to councillors, it is stated that “it is looking unlikely that Galway City Council will be able to run the Christmas Park and Ride in 2021”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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