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CITY TRIBUNE

Historic Galway mass rock believed to 350 years old

Dara Bradley

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A national monument that is around 350 years old has been re-discovered in Coolough.

The mass rock, which possibly dates back to 1650, has been located at the end of the cul de sac in Crestwood.

A survey was carried out in 1992, and the information gathered was used by the National Monuments Service to draw maps of where national monuments are located.

The original map placed the mass rock of Coolough in the back garden of a home in Crestwood.

Locals knew that that location was incorrect, however, and the true location of the mass rock was only confirmed this week.

“We are delighted that that the National Monuments Service has confirmed that we have found the mass rock of Coolough. It’s of huge importance,” said historian Damien Quinn.

Mr Quinn is chairperson of Coolough 365: People and Place, a committee established last September to document and protect historical sites in the area.

He said the mass rock was located on the estate of landlord Clan Rickard.

It was in use in Coolough probably between 1650 and 1750 after the Cromwellian campaign and during the Penal Laws in Ireland.

Though they were forbidden by the English, up to 1,300 people would attend ‘secret’ masses at the mass rock, oftentimes at night.

“In 1670, some 190 priests were deported from County Galway alone. They feared a Catholic invasion of Protestant Ireland backed by Rome and Spain. At the same time as they were being deported, more priests were being sent here from Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. The priests back then were what you might call ‘on the runs’,” said Mr Quinn.

He has established that Fr Walter Burke, a Dominican Friar from the Claddagh, celebrated masses at the mass rock for about 20 years during the 1700s.

The rock was the priest’s altar, and he would say mass with his back facing the crowd, explained Mr Quinn.

But it was much more than a place to say mass. “They had hedge schools there as well, marriages and it was a multi-purpose Catholic cultural centre,” he said.

Mr Quinn added: “We’re delighted with the find. This is the second national monument in Crestwood – we also have the Kiln – and that’s quite significant for a place of this size.”

The committee is planning to have the mass rock blessed at a ceremony this August and signs will be erected to note the significance of the mass rock, in English and as Gaeilge.

As well as the mass rock and kiln, the National Monuments Service lists three other historic sites in the area including a ringfort, enclosure and lime and architectural fragments located in Coolough Church

The committee is committed to upgrading the historical pathway that runs through Coolough village, skirts Carraig Bán and Ballinfoile/Crestwood playing pitches, to full national monument status.

As well as Mr Quinn, the committee includes Trudy Fallon (secretary), Irene Hynes (treasurer), Michelle Utley (project manager), Jarlath Kemple (archivist), city councillor Frank Fahy (Irish officer) and Laura Thomas (graphic design).

CITY TRIBUNE

Brave Holly’s battle against leukaemia

Denise McNamara

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A keen young camogie player from Knocknacarra diagnosed with leukaemia at the start of the first lockdown has now learned that she has lost her sight in one eye due to a rare complication.

Holly McAlinney was the picture of health at age seven. Her mother Sharon remembers the day schools were closed last March that her teacher had remarked that Holly had difficulty hearing in class.

She took her to the GP, thinking it was an ear infection and then her jaw swelled up so she thought it may have been her adenoids acting up. When medication did nothing to relieve the symptoms, they sent off a blood test.

“I went to the doctor with her on my own, you were only allowed one parent in at a time. They asked if I could call my husband so I knew things were bad. They confirmed it was leukaemia on a Wednesday and on the Monday we were in Crumlin Children’s Hospital getting chemotherapy – that’s how quickly it’s all been.”

Holly is now in the middle of her fourth round of chemo, which she undergoes weekly one day a week in the Dublin hospital. When she finishes this, she will have a fifth round given over two years to ensure the cancer doesn’t return.

Her medical team are extremely positive about her prospects. There is currently a 98 per cent survival rate with leukaemia, which is of course a huge relief to family and friends.

But things haven’t gone plain sailing throughout the treatment. Holly developed ulcers on her duodenum which left her in intensive care for a spell. And then last week, the family learned that the leukaemia had infiltrated her left eye, leaving a gap which could result in permanent blindness.

“We’re seeing a specialist in University Hospital Galway (UHG) next week but we don’t hold out much hope the sight will come back. Holly’s the most upbeat of all of us because she’s so young – she can’t see the repercussions into the future.

“That’s the way she’s been throughout the treatment. The first two rounds were heavy and the third quite light so she bounced right back. She was in school September and October, you wouldn’t know she was sick, and we felt she was safe because everything was so clean and with all the bubbles.

“It was right back down with the fourth round which was the heaviest so she can’t go see anyone just her brother – it’s heart-breaking.”

Her school friends have been keeping in touch by sending videos and cards to Holly to cheer her up.

While camogie and swimming will be out of the occasion for the foreseeable future, Sharon is confident they can find other hobbies that will enthral Holly, who is a very sociable and sporty girl. Sharon trains Holly with the U-8 camogie team with Salthill-Knocknacarra GAA.

The frequent trips to Dublin and hospital appointments has meant that Sharon has had to give up her job working in the Little Stars Montessori on the Cappagh Road, where son Alex still attends afterschool. Dad Rob works as an alarm engineer.

New mothers that Sharon met in Holly’s parent and baby group in Knocknacarra have organised a fundraiser to help the family get through the financial stress of coping with cancer.

They are planning a hike on December 6 at Diamond Hill, Connemara and have already raised €16,000 in donations.

“Rob and I are both from Salthill, but it’s been amazing the amount of people we wouldn’t have heard or seen in years who have contacted us to offer support. It’s only when you’re in trouble that you realise how good people can be.”

■ To make a donation, log on to GoFundMe

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CITY TRIBUNE

Proposals to change speed limits in Galway City are voted down

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Planned speed limit changes for Galway City are stuck in the slow lane after councillors rejected a proposal for new bylaws.

The bylaws would have introduced a 30km/h zone in the city centre and 19 other changes, including increased speed limits in areas such as Bóthar na dTreabh to 80km/h.

Management at City Hall have now been sent back to the drawing board to draft new speed limit bylaws after a majority of elected members voted against them – it could at least two years before new proposals are ready.

At a meeting this week, several councillors spoke out against plans to increase speed limits to 80km/h on approach roads into the city.

Many of them criticised the system of selecting roads for speed limit changes, lashed the public consultation process and decried the lack of input from councillors, despite speed limits being a reserved function of elected members.

Councillors were particularly peeved that the proposal had to be accepted in its entirety, without amendments, or rejected outright – they could not pick and choose individual changes.

Deputy Mayor Collette Connolly (Ind) led the charge against the bylaws, which she described as “idiotic”.

She lambasted the “incomprehensible decision” not to lower speed limits to 30km/h outside schools and she said it was “utter raiméis” (nonsense) that speeds can’t be lowered to 30km/h, if 85% of the traffic on that road travels at 50km/h.

Cllr Connolly said the bylaws were “flawed”, and cited the decision to leave Rahoon Road/Shantalla Road at 50km/h, despite a crèche and two schools on other roads like Lough Atalia remaining at 30km/h.

(Photo: A speed van on Bóthar na dTreabh on Thursday morning)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, including how each councillor voted and a map of the proposed changes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Corrib to be opened up as new tourism and leisure blueway

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first steps are to be taken next year to explore the development of a ‘blueway’ tourism and leisure trail along the River Corrib, from Nimmo’s Pier and onto the lake itself.

This week, Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that monies had been set aside to begin exploratory work on what will be known as the Great Western Blueway.

A figure of €65,000 has been allocated in the City Council’s 2021 annual budget to commission an initial study of what’s involved in the setting up a blueway trail on the Corrib.

“The Corrib river and the lake are a most wonderful natural asset for the entire western region and I have no doubt that this project has fantastic potential in terms of enhancing the tourism pulling power of the city and its environs,” Mr McGrath told the Galway City Tribune this week.

Should the project come to fruition, it would be the fifth such waterway attraction to be developed in the island of Ireland.

Already there are Blueways on the Shannon, from Drumshanbo to Lanesboro; the Shannon-Erne project from Leitrim village to Belturbet (Cavan); the Royal Canal at Mullingar; and at Lough Derg from Portumna to Scariff in Clare.

According to Mr McGrath, the attractions developed along the Great Western Blueway would be environmentally friendly, featuring such attractions as kayaking, paddling, adjacent cycle trails as well as scenic walkways and visitor centres.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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