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Connacht Tribune

Galway woman celebrates her centenary – with her first flight



Seatbelt and headphones on, Nonie McTiernan was a picture of contentment as she waited for the rotor-blades to increase their speed and for the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter to take off.

But this was no ordinary chopper trip; because Nonie was celebrating her 100th birthday and this was her first flight.

“It was wonderful”, she said. “We must have been up for 15 or 20 minutes. It was lovely to see all the houses and fields down below. I really enjoyed it.”

Nonie Larkin-McTiernan pictured with her letter and cheque from President Michael D. Higgins which was read to her by her grand-niece, Angela Larkin. EIREFOTO

Nonie’s brother, 86 year old Francie Larkin of Lisdeligna, Killimor, organised a big birthday celebration for his sister.

“She’s the best sister anyone ever had”, he said. “Nonie was the third eldest of our family of twelve and she was always there for the rest of us. There’s only the two of us left now”.

And what a party they had. Two marquees were erected on Francie’s farm for 175 invited guests. The day began with mass celebrated by Killimor parish priest, Fr. Ciaran Kitching who gave a warm talk about Nonie and the Larkin family.

He was assisted by Fr. Christy O’Beirne – as well as a small choir who sang beautifully, accompanied by organist Noreen Shiel and John Keane on guitar.

Following the mass, Nonie’s grand-niece Angela Larkin from New York, read a letter from President Michael D. Higgins in which he congratulated Nonie on reaching her 100th birthday and enclosing a cheque for €2,575.

A full dinner was then served to all the guests and this was followed by dancing to the music of K2 led by John Keane. During the evening there were numerous musical guests who contributed to the festivities.

Following her maiden flight, Nonie spoke for a while about her life. Born in 1918, she grew up on the family farm and went to school in Coola, three miles away. In her early 20s, she moved to Dublin where she worked for a few years.

In 1951, Nonie took the long voyage from Queenstown (Cobh) to the USA as she had some relatives there.

“I promised my mother that I would come home in five years and I did that” she said. “On holidays in Dromahair, County Leitrim in 1956, I met John McTiernan and two years later, on 12th February 1958, we married in St. Iomar’s Church, Killimor. We settled in Roughan, Riverstown, County Sligo and raised two children, a son, Pat and a daughter Ann-Marie. I have three grand-children and two great-grandchildren”, she added.

Her husband John died suddenly at the young age of 54.

When asked the inevitable question, to what did she attribute such a long and healthy life, Nonie replied: “I never drank or smoked and I worked hard all my life”.

She finished by entertaining the crowd with two wonderful recitations, ‘The Noble Boy’ and ‘My Dog Trey’ to huge applause.

To round off the celebrations, Nonie took to the floor with her son-in-law, John Francis Fowley and was soon joined by all the guests.

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

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

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base



The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.


Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number



Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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