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Connacht Tribune

Galway’s Atlantic adventurers aim to break 124 year old world record

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Damien Browne and Fergus Farrell out on the high seas.

Two Galway ironmen, both of whom have faced up to the most incredible challenges in their lives already, have unveiled their latest adventure – to row the Atlantic in their quest to smash a world record that has stood for 124 years.

Former Connacht rugby star Damien Browne from Renmore and his lifelong friend Fergus Farrell from Athenry will take on the might of the ocean in an unsupported row of 4,937 km across some of the wildest, most unforgiving seas on the planet.

They are attempting to finally break the record set by George Harboe and Frank Samuelsen, the first people to row successfully across the Atlantic from New York to The Scilly Isles in 1896, in an incredible 55 days and 13 hours.

Many adventurers have made the crossing since – but never unsupported.

That’s why, 124 years later, that original record still stands after eleven pairs have attempted to better it – and failed. In fact, only six of those eleven boats even completed their crossings.

Damien and Fergus will make their attempt in 2022 in a boat that will stick closely to the traditional values of ocean rowing, with respect for all those who have gone before them – especially the historic ocean-row of Harboe and Samuelsen, where they had no water makers or satellite phones, GPS, EPIRBs or even a lift raft on board.

Project Empower was officially launched this week, with the two men rowing in a traditional Currach from Inis Oirr to Galway city to begin their 24-month studied endeavour in human empowerment.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download a digital copy from our website www.connachtribune.ie

Connacht Tribune

Hospitals cope with overcrowding and staff shortages as Covid crisis peaks

Dara Bradley

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Confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to skyrocket in Galway, as virus-related frontline healthcare staff shortages persist and now overcrowding emerges as a new threat.

Galway experienced four days of record-breaking positive case notifications in the past week, as hospitalisations grew exponentially and pressure was heaped on the critical care units at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Portiuncula.

Hospital management said it was unsure whether community transmission had peaked locally yet – and they expect hospitals to be under ‘significant pressure’ from Covid admissions well into February.

Nurses have highlighted how overcrowding in the Emergency Department of the county’s two main public hospitals has returned – some 112 patients were stuck on trolleys awaiting admission to UHG and Ballinasloe on five mornings in the past week. Meanwhile, it hasn’t yet been officially confirmed that the new UK variant of Covid is present in Galway, but authorities believe it is.

The latest data shows there has been no let-up in new cases notifications in Galway – 604 confirmed cases were notified for Monday, the highest in Ireland and Galway’s worst ever day by a long shot.

It was a frightening figure but it was not for one day and was part of clearing the backlog of cases over Christmas and New Year, the HSE said.

That pushed Galway’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 to 1033.9 more than double what it was a week ago and eight times what it was a fortnight ago. Some 2,668 new Galway cases were notified in the fortnight to midnight Tuesday.

Read the full story and comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Suffer little children – report shines a light into shameful past

Dave O'Connell

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Baby clothing hanging from a tree branch in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home burial ground this week. PHOTO: Joe O'Shaughnessy

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The final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes shines a light into the darkest recesses of our shameful past; young women and tiny babies neglected by Church and State – fellow, frail human beings whose lives and deaths somehow didn’t matter at all.

These women and their children were punished, hidden out of sight; mistreated at best; physically and sexually abused at worst – and way, way too many were left to die without a shred of dignity in their lives or in their passing.

The Trojan work and dedication of people like Catherine Corless lifted the stone on the shame – but it is only in their shocking stories, as we’ve read and heard this week, that we can get any sense of the depths of this depravity.

Many of the mothers were little more than children themselves, who had their little babies taken from them and given away with even a sliver of consent.

There were no records of their adoption, and no willingness, even decades later, to help those babies to find their birth mothers. Because to do so would have exposed the cruel and heartless manner of their forced adoptions in the first place.

And yet exposing this scandal is only the first step; an apology was the very least they were entitled to. Now we as a nation, and particularly those religious orders who ran the homes, must do everything to redress this wrong.

We must open the files so that they can discover their full life stories, find their living relatives, and be compensated so that at least the rest of their lives are in complete contrast to all they’ve endured until now.

We need to look at how we can give hundreds of innocent babies a proper burial – however belated and insufficient that may be.

Nothing will undo the damage – but now that the depths of this depravity have finally been laid bare, there must be no equivocation, no prevarication; just a commitment to doing whatever it takes to try and right a terrible wrong.

See full coverage of the Commission’s Report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway couple celebrate a remarkable 75th wedding anniversary

Francis Farragher

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Martin and Kathleen McEvilly, pictured with their son John, who was home from Boston.

THEY are without doubt the King and Queen of Rosscahill – 104-year-old Martin McEvilly and his 96-year-old wife, Kathleen – who last week celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

Both Martin and Kathleen still live at home as part of the Killannin community, and although Covid has presented its difficulties, they still managed to have a small anniversary celebration on January 7 last.

The couple tied the knot back on January 7, 1946, just three months after World War II had ended, when Martin was 29 and his bride – also a McEvilly (from nearby Oughterard) – was just 21 years of age.

Seven children later – three boys and four girls – there are now also many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to carry on the McEvilly lineage, and hopefully too, the genetic gift of longevity.

Two of ‘the lads’ – Pat and Mike – still live locally as do daughters Noreen (now a carer for her parents) and Madge, while John (the youngest) is in Boston, with daughters Mary and Christina in Sydney and Australia.

Son Pat, who lives in Knockferry, said that the 75th diamond wedding anniversary, was still a very special occasion for the family and one of great happiness.

“You don’t hear of them too often – 75th wedding anniversaries – and it was a very special occasion for all of us, to have our parents still alive and well,” said Pat.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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