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All-Ireland winning captains set for Galway charity event

Dara Bradley



It will easily set a new world record – up to seventy senior All-Ireland winning hurling and Gaelic football captains, whose success spans eight decades, will descend on Galway this week for a unique walk for charity.

The All-Ireland winning captains are one of the highlights of what will be the greatest gathering of past and present GAA legends ever when hundreds of the all-time greats of Gaelic football, hurling and camogie take part in the 100,000 Steps for Cormac.

The three-day event, in memory of the late Cormac Connolly, is in aid of Pieta House and takes place next weekend from Thursday to Saturday, August 28-30.

Brian Smith, Meath’s All-Ireland football captain in 1949, and Jimmy Finn, who led the Tipperary hurlers to glory in 1951, are among the earliest captains to agree to take part.

Last year’s senior All-Ireland winning hurling captain, Clare’s Pat Donnellan, is also on board for the event which highlights the work of suicide prevention charity, Pieta House.

The captains’ gathering, on Saturday week is the third leg and culmination of the three-day monumental event that aims to raise awareness, as well as €100,000 for Pieta House.

The driving force behind the event, Cormac’s uncle, Galway All-Ireland winning captain in 1980, Joe Connolly, explains that exactly 100 All-Ireland winning captains are alive today.

Of these, seven from Kilkenny – including current manager Brain Cody and six of the panel – as well as three from the current Dublin football squad and Michael Murphy from Donegal, are unable to attend due to commitments on the field of play.

“As of now, we have between 60 and 70 All-Ireland captains who are coming. It is absolutely unbelievable. A gathering of all living All-Ireland winning captains has never been done in the history of the GAA. I got a letter from Tommy Wall, 1958 Tipperary winning captain who was on the millennium team and he said, ‘It should be great’. Everyone is really looking forward to it,” said Joe Connolly.

Saturday’s Walk with the Captains starts at 1pm in Athenry, through to Oranmore, on to Castlegar and finishing at Ballybrit Racecourse.

Fittingly, legendary RTÉ broadcaster, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh will be at Galway Racecourse to MC and interview on the night. Ollie Turner, of Galway Bay FM, and Jim Carney of the Tuam Herald, will be involved in interviews over the three nights.

The event begins next Thursday, August 28 at 1pm with the Walk with the Clubs starting in Portumna and heading to Killimor, Mullagh and finishing at Kiltormer pitch.

The special guests are representatives from all Galway GAA clubs that have won All-Ireland titles including seven hurling clubs, three football clubs, five camogie clubs and one ladies football.

The organisers hope that representatives from every GAA club in Galway will participate in this leg, and will wear their club colours to show support for the work being done by Pieta House, to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts and mental health difficulties, a problem that afflicts all parishes.

The final leg of the first day’s walk, from Mullagh to Kiltormer, will be particularly poignant. Cormac Connolly won medals at U16 and minor for Castlegar and he played against Kiltormer in the final; and so Castlegar and Kiltormer will join forces on the day and walk the last leg together.

Cormac died of an inoperable brain tumour at the age of 24 on July 25, 2011, but his family chose to support Pieta House in this event, to help prevent other families from going through the pain and suffering of losing a loved one.

The Walk with Champions is on Friday, August 29 at 1pm from St Thomas’ pitch in Peterswell to Loughrea, on to Sarsfields and from Bullaun to New Inn. Pupils at New Inn primary school are dancing 100,000 steps for Cormac to raise funds for the event.

The special guests on this ‘champions day’ are representatives of Galway’s All-Ireland winning  senior teams including six football, three hurling, two camogie and one ladies football from 1956 to 2013. The 94 Galway All-Stars from 1971 onwards in all GAA codes have been invited to walk on Friday, too.

Joe Connolly stresses that all clubs – not just GAA clubs – are welcome, and encouraged to participate, be they bridge clubs or rugby clubs or whatever.

“It is open to everyone. It is built around the captains but we want everyone to take part. The GAA isn’t in competition with other sports – the competition is drink and drugs and mental health,” he says.

For more information on how to get involved on make a donation:
Visit or visit the Facebook page.
You can also register to do the walk here or make a donation here or call Joe Burke on 085 7388908 or email


Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
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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GMIT warns partying students they are delaying return to campus

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Partying students have been told their actions have impacted GMIT’s plans to re-start practical classes on campus – and Gardaí are monitoring the city’s bus and train stations to catch those breaking the 5km travel restriction by returning home for the weekend.

College authorities said the current “extremely serious outbreak” of Covid-19 among students in Galway City was caused by a small minority who are “moving and mixing between different households”.

Following a meeting with Gardaí last week, GMIT contacted all students to clarify that because there are no ‘onsite’ classes, there should be no need to travel for educational purposes.

“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” students were told.

In a separate communication issued this week, the college’s Covid Officer appealed to students to abide by the rules.

“This outbreak has had an impact on our plans with regard to return to onsite practical work, with consequences for all students.

“We are appealing to all students to comply with all Covid restrictions and in doing so, to help ensure that those students who have to return to onsite practical work can do so,” the email read.

Many students from outside the city have opted to stay in their accommodation for access to better broadband.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more coverage of Covid figures and vaccinations, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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