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Jimmy left fighting for life after conger eel attack

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It’s a good job city businessman Jimmy Griffin is such a calm person. A freak encounter with a six foot conger eel during a day out scuba diving in Connemara last month took a huge chunk out of the side of his mouth and almost cost the award-winning baker his life.

A less experienced diver would have panicked, and probably drowned, after being bitten by such a huge creature 25 metres underwater. But his cool reaction after having the regulator knocked out of his mouth, allied to the quick thinking of support staff at Scubadive West, near Killary, averted a near certain tragedy.

The owner of Griffins Bakery on Shop Street had not been underwater for two years when staff at the North West Connemara centre invited him out for a free dive during a ‘try out’ day when three major suppliers were showcasing new equipment to experienced divers.

The weather was good, he brought his seven years-old daughter and Polish mother-in-law along for a day at the beach, and the 48-years-old – a Divemaster with more than 200 dives logged – was ‘buddied up’ with another experienced enthusiast for a boat dive at a place called Inis Bearna.

After jumping in off the boat, they had spent over 40 minutes underwater. A pod of dolphins had passed just before they got into the sea and, familiar with the site, he knew that there were plenty of conger eels in the area.

“All of a sudden I felt I got hit by a freight train. That’s the only way to describe it. I got hit by this thing, it had me by the face and I was being tossed around like a rag doll. It hit my head really hard. My regulator was knocked out of my mouth. I knew something was after hitting me and biting me, but I didn’t know what it was. I couldn’t get my hands around it, it was so big. I managed to wrestle it off and the pain started to set in on my face.”

Calmly, drawing on his experience, Jimmy put the regulator back in his mouth. He watched the giant eel, which was at least six feet long, swim away as he signalled to his buddy that something was wrong and gestured that they should return to the surface.

For more on this story, see today’s Galway City Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.

The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.

“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.

He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.

Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.

The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.

Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.

Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.

He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.

“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.

“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.

In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.

Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place

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The helipad on the former Shantalla pitch.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
BY ANDREW HAMILTON
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.

Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.

The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.

Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.

Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.

Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.

Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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