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CITY TRIBUNE

Ironman Higgins shows no sign of slowing down at the age of 70

Stephen Glennon

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Corofin's John Joe Higgins, who at 70 years of age, is still tearing it up on the triathlon scene both at home and abroad.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

TRI Lakes triathlete John Joe Higgins – who just last month won his age category in the half-ironman event at Dun Laoghaire 70.3, completing the combined 1.9km swim, 90.1km cycle and 21.1km run in just over seven hours – may have turned 70 earlier this year but he is showing no signs of slowing down.

In fact, the Corofin man is already gearing up for a full Ironman in Cork next year – his first as a septuagenarian – before he tackles the half-Ironman again at the World Championships in Nice, France next September. Already he is in training, having recently begun a gym programme under Michael Comer in Velocity Fitness in Tuam.

An evening spent in the company of Higgins at his beautiful home is, to say the least, enjoyable. While it is his feats on the triathlon circuit over the past 10 years that is supposed to be the driving force behind the interview, Higgins lead the conversation on a merry dance over the ensuing hours.

He chats about his family – his wife Mary, who makes one hell of a cup of tea, his five children and nine grandchildren – his passion for bee-keeping, his love of local history and a number of other sporting endeavours he has pursued over the years, including handball, Gaelic football and badminton.

The latter, no more than triathlon, he also enjoyed much success at, with one of his proudest achievements being part of the Corofin team that won the club’s sole county badminton championship in the 1970s. “I spent half my life playing badminton when I was younger,” he notes.

“To be honest, I don’t really like talking at all about triathlon. Everyone wants to talk about it but my life is totally different. My life has nothing at all to do with it, really. My life is about other things altogether.”

Yet, Higgins, a postman who served North Galway for 47 years before retiring, recognises there is something fascinating about a man turned 70 taking on one of the toughest endurance sports – a sport he only took up a decade ago – and, once he warms up to the subject, he is in his element.

His triathlon story arc began 10 years ago, by which time he had already run a number of marathons, including the Dublin City Marathon on several occasions and the New York City marathon, which he undertook for Croí.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Covid could leave Galway City Council with €25m budget hole

Stephen Corrigan

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Shop STreet this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is facing into a “potential crisis scenario” with a forecasted €25 million black hole in its budget, unless the Government comes good on a promise to plug the gap left by Covid-19.

That’s according to City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath who told councillors this week that the commercial rates waiver introduced by Government and a drop in income from goods and services provided by the local authority could slash their forecast annual revenue by 25%.

Mr McGrath said the last Government, when it introduced the rates waiver for cash-strapped businesses in March, had committed to €260 million to be put aside to bolster local authority finances, but no detail of how that will be rolled out had been provided.

“We are hoping as part of the July stimulus package, the new Government will give us the detail we so desperately need,” he said.

“Our rates standing orders have been wiped out to the tune of 90%.”

Tourism was crucial to the economic success of Galway, he continued, with approximately 80% of city businesses reliant on tourists to stay afloat.

“We have the highest percentage dependency of any local authority on rates from the tourism and hospitality sector,” said Mr McGrath.

It was for that reason that the Executive was seeking councillors’ approval to free up €485,000 of the so-called ‘Marketing Sinking Fund’ to finance a raft of tourism initiatives aimed at boosting the local economy by attracting domestic tourists as Covid-related restrictions are eased, in what Mr McGrath referred to as “temporary internal borrowing”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, and more on the tourism promotion plans, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Seafront prom and new train station planned for Murrough

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A vision of a new urban district on GMIT lands at Murrough – including a seafront promenade and new train station – has been submitted to Government for funding approval.

Galway City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath has outlined a plan to ‘leverage’ land and resources of the third level institute to create a new East City Urban District.

Mr McGrath has included the plans in an application for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).

The total value of the project would be €61 million, he said, which values the land at Murrough at about €14 million.

“We are seeking URDF investment to activate these sites as catalysts to boost population and economic output for the city and region,” Mr McGrath told city councillors.

He said that by leveraging the lands at GMIT, the Council was delivering on a target in the National Planning Framework 2040, which states there should be “special focus on capitalising on the potential of underutilised and publicly owned and centrally located sites”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Plans to double size of Galway City student complex

Enda Cunningham

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A computer-generated image of how the new Cúirt na Coiribe would look.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The investment fund which owns the Cúirt na Coiribe student accommodation complex on the Headford Road is planning to more than double the number of bed spaces there to 920.

Exeter Property Group, one of the biggest property investment groups in the world, has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission to demolish a two-storey building to the front of the development and to remove the existing fifth floor attic level from the next block.

The proposal involves extending upwards and outwards to create a total of 920 bed spaces in 868 bedrooms in a single building with nine linked blocks ranging from two to six storeys.

The project includes a gym/fitness studio in the basement, a games room, library/study spaces, café/restaurant and lounge spaces.

There will be 59 carparking spaces and 656 cycle spaces included. A total of 398 of the 405 existing bed spaces will be retained.

It is proposed that the existing bed spaces will retain their original planning permission which allows for short-stay lets throughout the year, and the additional 515 spaces would only be permitted to be used as short-stay lets during the summer months.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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