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Connacht Tribune

Hundreds of Whooper Swans swoop on Kilconnell

Declan Tierney

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There has been a mass influx of visitors to a small Galway village over the last couple of weeks, setting up home much to the delight of their neighbours.

Kilconnell may not be the usual stop-off on the West’s tourist trail, but it has proven to be a huge draw for the Whooper Swan.

This particular breed of swan fly here from Iceland on an annual basis – but this time they have specifically settled on Lake Calla in Kilconnell . . . at least for the time being.

Normally, around 20 or 30 of the Whooper Swans would descend on the lake – but clearly the word has spread among their number because the last couple of weeks have seen almost 200 arrive from Northern Europe.

And as local farmer Peter Lynskey explained, it is down to the fact that Lake Calla is one of the few bodies of water in which they feel safe.

It is all attributed to our scorching summer which has seen water levels on the River Shannon and Suck remain at historic lows – which leaves the Whooper Swans feeling vulnerable to attack from the river banks.

According to Peter, that is why they have chosen Lake Calla for their winter holiday.

“Our lake is now a sea of white with the amount of ducks and swans that it has attracted. Never before have we witnessed anything like this.

“Even though our lake is at an all time low – normally it covers an area of around 27 acres but it is now down to 20 acres – but the swans still feel safer there at night,” Peter explained.

The Whooper Swans make the 1,000 mile journey from Iceland – and some even come from Russian Siberia – and their arrival at the end of October has seen the lake become something of a local attraction.

According to Peter, they following the warmer climate at this time of year and during the day time they feed on the grasses at the edge of the lake and then congregate around the middle of the lake at night where they are not vulnerable to attack.

Peter is a local farmer and AI technician but he, along with local resident and former Galway East TD Joe Callanan, keep a close watch on everything that happens on Lough Calla – once home to a Baron who resided on a man-made island on the lake.

“The swans normally arrive on the last week in October or early November and usually there would be a handful but we have never witnessed anything like this.

“There are now people calling to the lake every day to see the number of swans and ducks that have arrived. It is an attraction in itself,” Peter added.

The lake is home to the traditional Mute Swan while a small number of the Bewick Swan often arrive from Eastern Europe but the latest influx has taken locals by complete surprise.

Connacht Tribune

Student nurses face all the risk – for no reward

Dara Bradley

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Working on the children’s ward of a busy hospital during a global pandemic is no joke; less funny still when you’re not getting paid for your toil.

All the risk and none of the rewards of qualified staff – that’s the lot of Edel Moore, a student nurse who is currently on placement at University Hospital Galway.

Edel, and hundreds of student nurses like her on placement in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, want more than a round of applause and platitudes from Government.

“None of us want a pat on the back for struggling. We’d just like to be recognised,” she said.

“The Government are full-time talking about front-line workers, and they want to give them a ‘clap hands’. Then you see Junior Ministers getting massive raises. For what? What have they done for us, the student nurses, that they’re getting a €16,000 wage increase?

“We’ve put ourselves through a four year degree but all I’m worth is a clap? Thanks! It’s ridiculous. They say that front-line workers deserve all the help they can get but it just seems that the ones who are able to give us the help we need are not going to give us the help that we deserve.”

Edel Moore is a mature student originally from Westmeath but living in Leitir Mealláin in Connemara with her husband and three children.

A third year student nurse of NUIG, she is currently on placement at the paediatric ward at UHG.

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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Connacht Tribune

Island museum gets the green light

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Inishbofin museum.

Work is expected to begin shortly on the construction of a museum on Inishbofin after planners gave the green light to the project.

The museum at Middlequarter is being developed by local historian and photographer Marie Coyne – and when completed, it will be home to items of historical significance from both Inishbofin and Inishark.

There is an existing museum on the island but it is too small to house the amount of artefacts, photographs and family histories that have been assembled over the years.

The new building will also include a photographic exhibition room, restoration workshop along with a gift shop and coffee dock. It is proposed that the new 3,400 square feet museum will be built on a site at the rear of Ms Coyne’s home.

Eamon Gavin of Eamon Gavin Architects based in Cornamona told the Connacht Tribune that this was an important project for the island and it was a welcome decision.

And he said that the green light would kickstart the process of conserving the vast and unique artefacts and archives built up over the years.

“As a practice, we have a long history of dealing with planning consultancy on unique rural sites in Connemara and the islands, therefore we fully understood how sensitive the proposed location of the project would be – the site is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Heritage Area,” he said.

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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Connacht Tribune

Tuam woman a picture of health a year after Covid crisis

Declan Tierney

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Tuam's Kitty Farrell with her dog Lulu a year after her Covid diagnosis.

Last year was a Mother’s Day like no other for Kitty Farrell who spent it in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital with Covid – but the 80 year old Tuam woman can look forward to a more sedate celebration this time out….thankfully restored back to full health.

Kitty, from Ballygaddy Road, had developed a debilitating cough the previous week – and when she was admitted to UHG on Mother’s Day, she tested positive for the coronavirus despite a lack of symptoms.

The retired businesswoman spent the next nine days seriously ill in isolation – and all alone as her four children could not visit her.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come through it but I was so sick that at times, it didn’t really matter. But the thought of passing away in isolation made a bad situation even worse,” Kitty said at the time.

A year on, she is back to full health, and while she restricts her movements, Kitty told The Connacht Tribune that she is just happy to be alive and she spends her days ‘pottering about’ and looking forward to the arrival of family members.

“Even though I don’t particularly agree with the current lockdown because everyone should be responsible for their own behaviour, I am living a life of relative isolation at the moment,” she said.

Read Kitty’s 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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