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Jimmy left fighting for life after conger eel attack

Ciaran Tierney



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


Missing man may be in Galway City

Enda Cunningham



Gardaí in Cork believe that a man missing from Midleton since last week may be in Galway City. are renewing their appeal for assistance in locating 53-year-old French man Christophe Goutte, is missing from his home in O’Brien Terrace, Midleton since Wednesday 15th January.

From enquiries to date it is understood that Christophe took a bus from Cork Bus Station that Wednesday and disembarked at 5.35pm in Galway City. He is living in Ireland for a number of years.

Christophe was last seen leaving work in Carrigtowhill, Co. Cork at approximately 11am on Wednesday 15th.

He is described as being 5″ 8′ in height, of stocky build with brown short hair and white skin with a sallow complexion. When last seen he was wearing a black coat, black pants, a black woollen hat and a brown pair of boots, he was carrying a dark coloured overall bag.

Gardaí are particularly appealing to those in the Galway city or surrounding areas to report any recent sightings of Christophe.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact Cobh Garda Station on 021 – 4908530, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station

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City Council planning €2.5m bailout for Galway 2020

Dara Bradley



Galway City Council looks set to bail out Galway 2020 – with an additional grant of €2.5 million to cover the European Capital of Culture programming costs.

The local authority has already allocated €6 million for the project, which officially launches on Saturday, February 8, with an event in South Park, Claddagh.

But city councillors will be asked to approve a further €1.25 million in both 2021 and 2022, at a special meeting next Monday.

The city’s ratepayers may ultimately have to cover the extra costs. A 3% higher commercial rate, introduced in the build-up to this year, and retained in 2020 with agreement of business representatives, may be maintained into 2021 and 2022 if management City Hall has its way.

As well as having to find €2.5 million extra for Galway 2020, Chief Executive of the City Council, Brendan McGrath, will ask councillors to sanction a grant of €80,000 to Druid Theatre for a production it is planning for March of this year, which was not part of the original Galway 2020 programme.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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Sandy Road regeneration heralds new dawn for city

Francis Farragher



Shaded in red is the 20-acre Sandy Road site that has now been earmarked for a major urban regeneration programme to provide 1,000 new homes close to the city centre.

THE first steps have been taken this week in what promises to be the biggest ever single urban regeneration project in the city – a potential half-billion-euro development of the 20-acre Sandy Road site.

A design review of the site has begun this week to be conducted by the Royal Institute Architects of Ireland with a brief to set out an outline vision strategy for the provision of 1,000 new homes as well as employment units and leisure facilities.

Property owners on the site earmarked for development include the City Council, the ESB, Galway County Council, the Galway Education and Training Board and the Connacht Tribune-owned Galway Bay FM premises.

The initial stages of the project – being driven by the State funded Land Development Agency (LDA) – will also have a strong ‘green element’ to it in what is being termed a ‘non-car’ development.

Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, told the Galway City Tribune, that it was a most exciting project for the city given its location within one kilometre of Eyre Square and its ready access to roads and public transport.

He said that the main thrust of the development would be housing-orientated, with a variety of residential units including affordable, social, rental and private sale properties.

“What’s happening this week is the important first step in what can be a very real achievable project for the city in the short- to medium-term period with the first phases coming on stream in the next three to five years,” said Mr McGrath.

The panel of architects [chaired by former senior Bord Pleanála planner, John Martin] will have its review completed by the end of March [this year] with the project in a position to go the detailed design stage some time in 2021, according to Brendan McGrath.

“We would hope that – all things going well – this project would be going on site by the end of 2022, with the first phases to be completed 12 to 18 months later,” Brendan McGrath said.

He stressed, however, that there would be a detailed and lengthy consultation period with all of the property-owners and tenants on the 20-acre site before the project would proceed.

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

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