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Helmet might have saved cyclist from fatal injuries



The Coroner for West Galway has urged cyclists to use helmets at all times, following the inquiry into the death of a father of two, who would probably have survived an accident if he had taken this safety precaution.

Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin made his remarks at Galway Courthouse after a lengthy inquiry into the death of Kevin Smith (43), from Ballyvaughan, Co Clare. He was struck by a car outside Kinvara last summer, sustaining fatal head injuries.

“This is possible,” was the reply from consultant pathologist, Dr Birgid Tietz, when asked if Mr Smith’s would have survived had he been wearing a helmet.

“Most fatalities are around injuries to the head and neck,” the Coroner added.

Mr Smith had been in the area on August 6, as he was constructing a porch for friends in Kilcolgan. He had cycled from home the previous day, the Inquest heard, and decided to stay overnight as it was a two-hour journey by bike. They shared two bottles of wine with dinner, before he went to bed at about 11pm.

His friend told the inquiry that he set up his work space on the morning of August 6, but left the house without explanation at 10am.

She said that he would often go for a swim, and had possibly gone out to revive himself, as he had been feeling tired and recalled him saying that he “felt like he’d been hit by a truck.”

A driver encountered him near Dunguaire Castle, outside Kinvara, at about 1.30pm, and said that as he approached, the cyclist swerved without explanation across the road in front of him. The accident occurred about one mile further along that road, on the way to Ballindereen.

Another driver remembered seeing Mr Smith around that time. She was parked in a layby, but recalled him cycling past her and then crossing the road, seconds before he was struck.

The driver of the oncoming vehicle said that the cyclist ‘shot out’ into her path from behind bushes. A witness, who was a passenger in an oncoming car, told her that there was nothing she could have done.

“It was literally the blink-of-an-eye stuff,” the driver recalled.

She also said that Mr Smith’s fiancée, Danielle Dodds, had approached her at the scene, saying: “You look after yourself, this is part of a bigger picture.”

A witness driving in the opposite direction told the inquiry that the traffic had slowed down to get past Mr Smith, who was cycling alongside a female pedestrian with a dog – incidentally, Gardaí were unable to get a statement from this woman.

“The guy on the bike seemed to be swerving in and out on the road… the pedestrian stayed on the left, he cycled across the road, he was cycling erratically,” she said.

“I was glad that there were other cars in front of me, I wouldn’t have liked to come up on that cyclist at any speed. You don’t do stuff like that on a busy road, especially at the height of the tourist season.”

Mr Smith was airlifted to University Hospital Galway, where he died two days later, on the evening of August 8. He had been kept alive so that his heart, liver, and kidneys could be donated.

Garda Tom Kavanagh, who attended the scene of the accident, told the inquiry that despite making numerous enquiries, he had been unable to trace Mr Smith’s movements between 10am and the time of the accident.

“Several business premises were visited in Kinvara, but we were unable to establish where he was,” he said.

Dr Tietz carried out a post-mortem examination on Mr Smith’s remains, and found that he had sustained some broken bones to his right leg, but it was the lethal brain injury that had caused his death.

She said it was possible that a helmet could have saved his life.

The jury of five men and one woman deliberated for five minutes before unanimously returning a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, that death was due to a skull fracture, subdural and subarachnoid haemorrhage, and cerebral oedema, sustained in a road traffic accident.

The jury also endorsed the Coroner’s recommendations about cyclists wearing helmets.

“I would like to advise the general public who cycle – it has become an increasing pastime and hobby – that on roads where they may encounter traffic, to wear safety headgear,” Dr MacLoughlin said.

“It doesn’t go without notice that the late Kevin Smith and his family donated his organs, so although life was becoming extinct for him, it could begin for someone else… it was a gracious quality.”

Connacht Tribune

Confusion reigns – but publicans continue serving pints outdoors



Galway City publicans continued this week to serve alcohol in newly created on-street outdoor dining sections – despite warnings from Gardaí that it was against licensing laws.

The local branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said it is hoping Government will, if necessary, introduce legislation that facilitates pubs serving alcohol in public spaces reclaimed for outdoor hospitality.

On Friday last, our sister newspaper, Galway City Tribune revealed that Gardaí had visited a number of city pubs warning they were not legally permitted to serve alcohol outdoors in temporary on-street seating areas created by Galway City Council.

Publicans were told that if they continued to flout the rules, files would be sent to the DPP.

When the crux subsequently hit the national headlines, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys urged Gardaí to ‘use their discretion’.

“The overwhelming majority of licensed premises are operating safely, and we in Government are determined to continue to support them. If local issues arise, I would urge local authorities, Gardaí and businesses to engage.

“However, I will also examine whether further measures are required from Government. Licensing law is a complex area but I have spoken to the Attorney General this morning and we will take further action if necessary,” Minister Humphreys said.

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Connacht Tribune

Apple plans second bite at Athenry data centre



An artist's impression of the proposed Apple Data Centre.

Apple intends to have another bite at plans to build a data centre in Athenry.  Apple Operations Europe has applied to Galway County Council for more time to construct a controversial data centre on a greenfield site at Derrydonnell.

The company said it will identify “interested parties to develop the project” between now and 2026 to meet global growth in demand for data storage facilities.

It will spark hope in the County Galway town of a revival of the €850 million project that was dogged for years by planning delays and court appeals and was subsequently shelved. It may also attract fresh objections.

The world’s largest technology company was granted planning permission to build a €850 million data centre near Athenry in 2015.

An appeal to An Bórd Pleanála by a handful of local residents was not successful, and the planning appeals board confirmed the local authority’s decision in 2016.

But the company ultimately aborted its plans for County Galway in 2018 after three objectors sought a review of the decision through the courts.

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Connacht Tribune

Mum’s dream holiday turns to nightmare after cancer diagnosis



Julia McAndrew, in hospital in Mexico.

A mother who went to Mexico on a dream holiday to spend Christmas with family is too weak to return home after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

From the minute Julia McAndrew landed in the South American country, her health took a major downward spiral.

Her son and daughter were shocked when she asked for a wheelchair to make it through the airport.

She and daughter Eliska had flown out to see her son Patrick, who had relocated to Mexico to run an online learning business.

They initially thought she had fallen ill due to the rigours of a 22-hour, multi-stop flight.

But when her stomach problems did not improve and she began to lose a lot of weight and suffered from very low energy, they sought medical help.

This had to be done privately and without the financial help of an insurance company, Patrick reveals.

She was initially diagnosed with anaemia and kidney failure and underwent various treatments, including blood transfusions that appeared to be working.

But three weeks ago, medics discovered that what she had was Stage 4 breast cancer. Julia had cancer a decade ago but was given the all-clear after receiving treatment and a major change in lifestyle.

“It’s returned with a vengeance this time around. It’s spread to her pelvis, ribs and lungs,” reflects Patrick.

The cost of the treatment is $40,000 (€33,000) a month. Her family are hoping to build up her strength enough to endure the long flight home to Oranmore.

They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise €280,000 to pay for her treatment and in less than a week a phenomenal €36,000 has been donated.

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