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Connacht Tribune

Mastering the art of walking and cutting in straight lines





Sinking sourdough and DIY haircuts aside, TESS FINCH-LEES is viewing lockdown in a positive light – and won’t let up until she’s told she has to.

“Who’s that?” says Gobnait (not her real name) whose house I used to pass on my pre-lockdown walk. “It’s me,” I’d say, lifting my sunglasses to prove I’m not Lady Gaga incognito.

It’s her way of telling me I should catch myself on for wearing sunglasses in the middle of January. I could tell her I have light sensitive eyes but she doesn’t suffer fools gladly and I admire her astuteness.

I’ve changed my route since lockdown because the road isn’t wide enough to accommodate my ego and social distancing. That’s what Gobnait would say and I miss our daily dalliance.

Despite that, and with the easing of lockdown imminent, I find myself reluctant to relinquish my newfound bubble, for various reasons.

My DIY haircut with blunt scissors didn’t go as planned. Just cut in a straight line, what could possibly go wrong?


One side was shorter than the other and in a scene reminiscent of Father Ted’s dented car sketch (I’ll just give it one more tap), I kept cutting until one side was aligned with my upper ear while the other hovered in follicular limbo just below the chin.

Panicking ahead of a Zoom meeting, my options included the following: a bandana (a la Duran Duran), a balaclava (a la bank robber) or a baseball cap (a la who’s that eejit?). I went with the latter and kept my head down until someone said: “who’s that in the baseball cap”?

I also haven’t mastered the art of making sourdough bread (my heart’s not really in it) and, while the rest of the country has been spring cleaning since March, I haven’t even started.

I’m not ready to stop listening to the sound of the cuckoo, carried in the wind from the Burren across the bay and the butterflies of giddiness it unleashes, leaving endorphin infused contrails in their wake.

Whilst I cling to lockdown like Paschal Donohoe clings to his ministerial salary, many are chomping at the bit for freedom.

A vexed psychologist on RTE, warned of the psychological impact of children not being able to hug their grannies.

If there’s a second wave, as already seen in Germany and China, what about the psychological impact on the child if granny dies of Coronavirus?

What about the psychological impact on the doctor working with dwindling resources who has to decide who gets the last ICU bed and/or ventilator?

And what about the psychological impact on the nurse who has to tell the family that their loved one has died?

At time of writing, 30% of the people diagnosed with Coronavirus are previously healthy Health Care Workers. What of the psychological impact on them and their families who risk their lives to save ours?

The shortage of PPE is an ongoing worry for healthcare staff with reports of post-traumatic stress disorder emerging, unsurprisingly. If there is a second wave, our capacity to respond could be significantly depleted.

Meanwhile, having spent six weeks in lockdown, leaving many financially destitute, it emerged that people continued to enter Ireland and the safeguards, such as self-isolating and filling in contact tracing forms, weren’t actually mandatory and therefore as effective as a chocolate tea pot.

Data from one week alone revealed that more than a third of passengers arriving at Dublin Airport and a quarter of those coming in at Dublin Port who were asked to self-isolate did not respond to follow-up calls, many were untraceable.

When confronted with this revelation in the Dáil last week, Leo Varadkar said that mandatory quarantine might be forthcoming but warned about the impact on tourism.

The elephant in the room of course is Britain. Our nearest neighbour, which has the second highest death rate from Coronavirus in the world.

In non-lockdown conditions, one contagious person can infect, on average three people, who will then potentially infect another three.

By the time you multiply that variable ten times, exponentially the original person could have infected over 88,000 people.

That’s why New Zealand’s premier, Jacinda Ardern locked down early, quarantining everyone entering the country and rolling out rigorous contact tracing and testing regimes.

After one month and twenty deaths, she reduced the infection rate to zero enabling the safe easing of lockdown.

As long as Ireland’s border strategy against Coronavirus remains that of voluntary quarantining, I’m staying in lockdown.

Gobnait and I have started a Zoom Book Club and our first book is, “Who’s that” by D.O Lally.

It’s about a girl with lopsided hair who wears dark glasses in January and goes cuckoo trying to make sourdough bread in a ramshackled kitchen, somewhere in County Galway (recommended reading age 0-3 mths).


Connacht Tribune

Galway’s newest garden centre has arrived at McD’s in Galway Crystal




Garden Centre in Galway City located in the iconic Galway Crystal Building

For over 10 years people have been flocking to McD’s Garden Centre in Loughrea to get the very best range for garden, home and much much more.

This weekend McD’s are proud to announce the opening of a brand new Garden Centre in Galway City located in the iconic Galway Crystal Building.

Nicely located with good parking and serviced by the 404 Newcastle to Oranmore bus, McD’s Garden Centre at Galway Crystal is a must visit location if you need anything from plants, shrubs, pots, garden furniture and more. They have a dedicated solar garden lights section, gorgeous array of water features and garden ornaments and practically everything you need for your garden.

Visit their Facebook today where they are running competitions and keep track of other promotions too. You can visit their website online at

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Connacht Tribune

UHG nurse battles for her life in ICU

Dara Bradley



Leona Paula ICU.

UHG remains braced to rapidly respond to any rise in Covid-19 patients as a result of a second surge – but the plight of one of their own colleagues this week showed just how precarious this pandemic can be.

Because while senior management at the Saolta Group vowed to stay ‘vigilant and alert’, a staff nurse at UHG was battling for her life in the hospital’s own ICU.

Leona Paula Leoncio, a 36-year-old mother of two boys, tested positive for Covid-19 last week, and was moved to ICU on Monday where she was intubated and ventilated.

The staff nurse, who had no underlying health conditions, is now battling for life in ICU at UHG, according to the Philippine Consulate in Dublin, which has urged people to pray for her.

Ms Leoncio moved to Ireland in 2017, with her husband and two children, to work in the country’s health system.

“We might have different faiths and beliefs but can I ask of you . . . to take a pause and say a prayer of healing and strength for her and her family,” said Chuck Giner, her nursing colleague at UHG, in a posting relayed on the Philippine Consulate’s social media.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune – along with all of the latest news on the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re on sale in all newsagents and supermarkets, and you can also order the Tribune with your home delivery; buy a digital edition here, or avail of the new An Post service to deliver to your door at no extra cost to the cover price.

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Connacht Tribune

Gort boy reunites Tipp star with broken hurl from famous point

Dara Bradley



Liam Linnane from Gort holding Brendan Maher's broken hurley from the All-Ireland semi-final club game. Photo: Hardiman Photography.

Tipperary All-Star hurler Brendan Maher has revealed that a young lad in Gort has found his long-lost hurl – the one he used to score one of the points of the last sporting year.

The broken hurl, the one that broke the hearts of St Thomas’ fans back in January, was used to fire over a point in Borris-Illeigh’s All-Ireland semi-final victory over the Galway club at the Gaelic Grounds.

Maher revealed last week that he tried to retrieve the hurl after the match to keep as a memento, but couldn’t find it. He subsequently got a letter from twelve year old Liam Linnane from Gort, who had found it.

“After I scored the point I got kind of carried away and I threw it over my shoulder into the open stand in the Gaelic Grounds. After the match, I thought I would really like to have that hurley but we could not find it and the club even contacted the Gaelic Grounds afterwards to see if it was found.

“Several weeks had passed and I’d given up on it when I got a letter from a young fella in Gort and I read down through it. He said he was twelve years old and that he was at the game where I scored the point with the broken hurley and that he had the hurley.”

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune – on sale in all newsagents and supermarkets, and you can also order the Tribune with your home delivery; buy a digital edition here, or avail of the new An Post service to deliver to your door at no extra cost to the cover price.

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