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Connacht Tribune

Galway school’s sailboat found washed up in Norway!



Kilglass NS sixth class students Sophie Kelly, Rosie Dolan, Ruby Glynn, Naomi Faulkner, Olivia Cotton delivering their 1.5 metre unmanned mini sailboat called ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’ to the Marine Institute’s research vessel, RV Celtic Explorer, in Galway Harbour. Photo: Andrew Downes xposure

A mini sailboat made by a group of sixth class students in Ahascragh made it all the way to the Arctic Circle – to deliver Tayto crisps and other goodies to the pleasantly surprised Norwegian family who found it!

The miniature unmanned craft – called Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe (the Galway Sailor) – was given to the pupils of Kilglass NS as part of the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme.

And after travelling over 3,000km from Irish waters to Norway, the one and a half metre craft was found on the Bunes Beach – above the Arctic Circle in the Lofoten Islands – by the Bjørnsen family and friends while on holidays there over the summer.

Lars said his daughters were thrilled to discover the mini boat washed up on the remote Bunes Beach.

“Our neighbour had found the boat and my three girls were so excited to join him to open the hatch of the boat to see the Irish messages and ‘treasures’ inside,” he said.

The Bjørnsen family and friends discover the treasures inside the mini-boat ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’, after finding it washed up on Bunes Beach above the Arctic Circle in the Lofoten Islands, in Norway. Photograph: Lars Bjørnsen

“We were able to read most of the letters that had been written by the students at Kilglass National School in Galway, although some were a little wet.  The girls were also delighted with the Irish candy and crisps – which survived the voyage,” he added.

Lars revealed that Bunes Beach was quite isolated on the western side of Reinefjorden on Norway’s Moskenesøya island.

“You can only get there by ferry and then have to walk 3km to the beach.  It is a beautiful beach in a bay surrounded by mountains and steep ridges. However, not many people get to go there on a regular basis.

“Therefore, the fact that we found the Galway Sailor mini boat, that had made its way into the bay and then washed up on the shore with little structural damage is amazing for such a small boat,” Mr Bjørnsen further explained.

The ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’ was provided to Kilglass National School, as part of a collaborative school project, coordinated by the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme and supported by the international Educational Passages programme in the USA.

The project was also funded by EU Interreg iFADO (Innovation in the Framework of the Atlantic Deep Ocean) project, in which the Marine Institute are partners. The mini boat was equipped with a sail and a satellite tracker, which allowed the students at Kilglass NS to track it as it sailed across the ocean, using the international Educational Passages tracking system. Peter Kane, the teacher leading the project at Kilglass, was thrilled with the news from Norway and he thanked the Bjørnsen family for their lovely message sent to the school children in Galway.

“It is truly a mini-summer miracle!  Everyone at Kilglass National School are so delighted with the news that our mini-boat ‘Seoltóir na Gaillimhe’ has been found in Norway. When the mini boats are found after their travels, this highlights how the ocean connects us all,” he said.

The Explorers Education Programme’s marine project involved over 100 children taking part in science, geography and art activities learning about the ocean; as well as preparing the mini boat for its journey.

The students painted and decorated the boat, created artwork and good luck messages, and named the boat ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’, which recognises the tradition of fishing in Galway.  The mini boat was launched by the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer near the M6 Data Buoy, in the Atlantic Ocean during a scientific survey in June.

Peter Kane also commented on the collaboration with the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme, highlighting the importance of marine themes used on the curriculum in Ireland.

“The Educational Passages mini boat programme brings children, schools and countries together in so many different ways, from building the boats, tracking them at sea, to finding them in new countries when they reach land,” he said.

“When the ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’ last reported its GPS location near the Faroe Islands in June, we didn’t know whether the boat had been damaged or was still drifting with the currents and winds.

“We were therefore thrilled to get a call from Cassie at Educational Passages to let us know that ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’ made it back to land in Norway,” Mr Kane added.

The teacher and students were also excited to find out that their boat had also set a new record for the most northern journey ever made by one of the unmanned mini-boats with Educational Passages.

“We now look forward to the next stage of working with the Explorers Education Programme and linking our students with the local Norwegian Primary School, who have taken over the boat’s next new adventure,” he added.

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland’s state agency for marine research and development.

Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area



A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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Connacht Tribune

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised



Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Anger over ANC ‘snip’



Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue

ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.

Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.

In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.

Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.

At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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