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Connacht Tribune

Iconic country house looks set to lie empty after HSE pulls out

Declan Tierney



One of the most impressive country houses in Tuam, which is to be vacated shortly by the HSE West, is set to lie empty – because nobody wants to buy or lease it.

Toghermore House in Tuam, which was owned by the Burke family, has been used as a residential mental health centre for many before the HSE decided to close it down and move the residents out.

This is despite the fact that, in recent years, the HSE spent some €2 million in refurbishing the house by providing expensive chandeliers, murals and paintings along with the establishment of a workshop.

Local councillor Donagh Killilea has described it as ‘a disgrace’ that an iconic building that dates back to the 1700s has been ‘abandoned’ by the HSE without any confirmation of its future use.

“They have offered it to sporting clubs who are no interested and there was talk of it becoming an administrative centre for the HSE but this seemingly is not the case either. It is a great building and grounds going to waste.

“I have asked the HSE and they have currently no plans for it. I have a great fear that, similar to other buildings in Tuam that have been vacated, they will go to wrack and ruin. They will just become derelict sites,” Cllr Killilea said.

Several years ago, it was announced by the HSE West that they would spend around €1.5 million in acquiring three houses for mental health patients in Tuam – at the expense of one of the most iconic buildings in the town.

In recent years €2 million was spent in refurbishing Toghermore House, which used to accommodate eleven residents but now, according to Cllr Killilea, it houses just three.

The house boasts some exquisite chandeliers and over the past few of years has been transformed into one of the most luxurious centres for residential accommodation in the whole of the country.

Its impending closure has sparked outrage in the local community – especially as the house was donated by the then owner Bobby Burke to the town so that it could provide residential care for those with intellectual disabilities.

The house was threatened with closure back in 2013 when fire safety issues were identified but these were resolved after a short period of time but now Toghermore House is set to close permanently early in the New Year. There are fears that it will be left to fall into a dilapidated state.

Under the new move, it is planned to move the remaining residents from Toghermore House into a house in the town. However, this is the subject of a planning appeal by neighbouring residents.

Cllr Killilea has described the move as ‘a complete waste of public money’ and said that Toghermore House was in perfect condition to house the residents and he now fears for the future of the building.

Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune tributes to loved ones




These past few months have seen so many communities left to silently mourn family members and friends, whose funerals they would have attended in such numbers, were it not for the current Covid-19 restrictions.

But those that are gone have not been, and will not be, forgotten – which is why we want to open the pages of the Connacht Tribune to you to tell their stories.

If you’ve lost a loved one, whether to Covid-19 or not, or if your community or organization or sports club is mourning the death of a valued member and friend, you can email us your tribute and we will publish it in our papers.


All you have to do it to click on the above link, and it will take you to a short set of questions which you can fill in – and then add whatever you feel tells the story of the life of your friend, family member or colleague.

You can email that with a photograph to us, to or you can post it to ‘Obituaries’, Connacht Tribune, 21 Liosban Business Park – and please enclose a contact number in case we have any queries.

We sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one at this awful time, particularly given that so many people were unable to mourn with them and their family in person – and we hope that this will help in some small way to show those family members that we are all united in grief, even from a distance.

This is an additional feature we are providing alongside our long-established weekly Family Notices section where loved ones are remembered immediately by Months Mind Notices and annual anniversary remembrances.  You can contact our team for further details at

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Connacht Tribune

Alison’s Euro Award for Covid information project

Dave O'Connell



Mike Feerick...found of Alison.

The Galway-established online course providing information about coronavirus in more than 70 languages – reaching over 350,000 people worldwide – is among 23 projects from the EU and the UK recognised for their outstanding contribution to fighting COVID-19 and its disastrous consequences.

The European Economic and Social Committee has awarded the Civil Solidarity Prize to the Irish learning platform Alison – founded by social entrepreneur Mike Feerick and based in Loughrea – for its free online course which was developed and published at the very start of the pandemic to educate as many people as possible about the virus, its spread and its effects.

The EESC, an advisory body representing Europe’s civil society at the EU level, selected the learning platform Alison as the best Irish candidate for the Prize, saying that its project “Coronavirus: What you need to know” stood out as a shining example of solidarity and civic responsibility during the COVID-19 crisis.

The online course was launched in February 2020 when the knowledge about the virus was still very scarce and the governments were still struggling with how to respond to the looming crisis.

With its training programme, based on WHO and CDC guidelines and continuously updated to include the latest information, the Irish platform has given people free access to potentially life-saving knowledge.

Translated in less than four months into more than 70 languages, with the help of 5,000 volunteers many of whom were immigrants, it had been completed by approximately 350,000 people as of September 2020. Some 100,000 people signed up for it in a single day.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www/

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Connacht Tribune

Covid a whole different ball game for Galway camogie nurse

Dara Bradley



Pictured at the presentation of a Galway jersey and message of thanks from Galway GAA to frontline workers at UHG this week were (from left) Galway Senior Camogie player and nurse Emma Helebert, Galway GAA Chairman Pat Kearney, Galway Senior Ladies Football player and nurse Tracey Leonard, Galway Bay FM commentator Tommy Devane, and Eoin McGinn, Assistant Director of Nursing.

Galway camogie star Emma Helebert doesn’t shy away from a question about Covid-19 anti-vaxxers and their online conspiracy theories.

“Personally, since this pandemic has hit, I’m allergic to social media over the whole thing,” she says.

A midwife at University Hospital Galway, the 2019 All-Ireland winner agrees that vaccines involve personal choice.

But that choice should be informed by trusted sources of information, such as the HSE or NHS websites – and not random often nefarious and anonymous contributors on social media.

“There are more reliable sources of information than turning to places like Facebook or whatever online forums are talking about it,” she says.

“What’s scaring people more than the actual thought of the vaccines is these opinions that are being forced down people’s throats and they’re seeing it every time they go on Facebook and scrolling on social media.

“My only advice to people who are scared is to do your own research. Go to the reliable sources of information and don’t believe what you see on Facebook.

“Unfortunately, there are people out there who create pages that are full of negativity or full of lies. It only takes one scary thought or piece of information you’ve heard to cling to you that’ll make you not want to get it,” she adds.

Read the full interview with Emma Helebert in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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