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Connacht Tribune

Medtronic gives back to Galway



Medtronic chairman and CEO Geoff Martha with Gerry Greene, who has become famous within Medtronic and beyond as the face of ventilator manufacture. Gerry even signed a copy of the image for Geoff. Photos: Andrew Downes, Xposure.

One of Galway’s biggest employers is to give away more than €900,000 to various local initiatives in recognition of the contribution made by its employees in increasing ventilator supply for the fight against Covid.

Medtronic’s Giving Back to Galway initiative will support a pandemic preparedness research project at NUI Galway; the commissioning of a legacy artwork with GMIT; and the development – with Galway City Council – of Mervue United’s home ground, O’Sullivan Park, which is adjacent to its plant.

The announcement was made at a special event at NUIG to mark Galway’s response to the pandemic, which was addressed by Medtronic CEO and chairman Geoff Martha and attended by key local politicians, community groups and Medtronic partners.

The additional €270,000 in Medtronic funding follows previous recognition of more than €600,000 made to staff during 2020 to acknowledge the pandemic response and grants from the Medtronic Foundation to underserved communities.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst for a significant ramp-up of operations at Medtronic in Galway at the height of the crisis.

At the manufacturing plant in Mervue, the production of ventilators increased by two-fold initially, and then five-fold in less than five months, operating on a 24/7 basis.

The company also released the full design specifications for the Puritan Bennett 560 ventilator, which is manufactured in Galway, to competitors and new entrants as part of the fight against the pandemic, and also rapidly mobilized funds and other supports to help local staff and communities.

Medtronic’s Mervue operations, in collaboration with partnerships across the Galway community, were at the very heart of the local response to the crisis, as well as the company’s global healthcare efforts.

Geoff Martha said he was honoured to be in Galway ‘to recognise the commitment and determination shown by our staff and the wider Galway community in the face of this crisis’.

“We learned that, in the most difficult of times, great things are possible when our staff and their communities rally together,” he said.

“Medical technology and healthcare services, together with third-level colleges and local groups here in Galway, joined forces in an unprecedented way at the height of the pandemic.

“When the pandemic hit, our employees doubled down and came into work each day to deliver for patients. They embodied the Medtronic Mission to contribute to human welfare in more remarkable ways than we could have ever thought possible,” he added.

NUIG President, Professor Ciarán hÓgartaigh, welcomed the opportunity ‘to deepen the engagement’ Medtronic which he said ‘complements our values of excellence and openness…as we pursue learning, research and innovation with a commitment to making a difference locally and globally.’

Medtronic’s Giving Back to Galway support for NUIG includes funding and expertise that will go towards analyzing the performance of ventilator supply chains during the pandemic, developing tools to enhance supply chain resilience for the next pandemic, and enhancing the rapid upskilling of nursing staff in mechanical ventilation.

The Ireland-U.S. Council also presented its 2021 Global Achievement Award to Geoff Martha to mark his role in overseeing Medtronic’s significant contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.


Connacht Tribune

Radio series a first for new An Spidéal production company



Liam Ó Maonlaí (centre) with guests Barry Kerr and Síle Denvir from the first programme of Cuan an Cheoil.

A host of Ireland’s finest musicians gathered in Galway’s new intimate arts space – and recorded ten weeks of special programmes that will go out on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta every Thursday, starting tonight.

Cuan an Cheoil is the first radio series produced by Stiúideo Cuan, the new arts venue and production company in the heart of An Spidéal.

The new ten-part series, kicking off tonight at 7pm, will feature ten of the country’s best-known musicians, who will join Hot House Flower Liam Ó Maonlaí each week to play and to chat with him about various aspects of music and life.

Liam describes the programmes as ‘a musical conversation’ between himself and his guests.

They were recorded in Stiúideo Cuan in An Spidéal in a relaxed and open atmosphere, an attempt to recreate the informality of a group of musicians playing together at home, as opposed to a concert setting. The idea is to allow the musicians the space to be creative, to improvise and to compose on the spot, and the musicians who took part in the series got great satisfaction and enjoyment out of the process.

Síle Denvir and Barry Kerr will join Liam for the first programme of the series on January 20. Síle, from Conamara, is a member of the group Líadan, and has also performed with the Chieftains.  Barry Kerr, musician, composer and painter, is originally from Armagh but now living in Conamara.

Other musicians taking part in the series include Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh & Nia Byrne, Peadar Ó Riada & Mick O’Brien, Mary Bergin & Conor Connolly, Johnny Óg Connolly & Liam O’Connor, Róisín Chambers & Maitiú Ó Casaide, Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich & Niamh Varian-Barry, Rónán Ó Snodaigh & Myles O’Reilly, and Caoimhe & Séamus Ó Flatharta.

A visual stream for this programme will also be available online every week.

Stiúideo Cuan is a new creative arts and music centre based beside Ceardlann an Spidéil craft village in An Spidéal.

Founded by composer, fiddle-player and pianist Charlie Lennon and his daughter, fiddle-player Éilís Lennon, the studio has recently been redeveloped to enhance the facilities there which now include a performance venue, with rehearsal and production space, as well as recording and audio-visual post-production facilities.

Cuan an Cheoil will be broadcast on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta every Thursday from 7pm to 8.30pm, starting tonight.  See for further information or to listen back.


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Connacht Tribune

Athenry student makes wheelchair waves to create unique artwork



Joshua Whelan proudly poses beside his artwork, an abstract interpretation of the Athenry town map.

A young Athenry student has been making waves after his artistic endeavours endeared him to the nation.

Joshua Whelan, a First Year pupil at Clarin College in Athenry, has cerebral palsy – and a passion for art, which was revealed when he joined Serena Joyce’s art class a few months ago.

And he has now produced his first large artwork – an abstract interpretation of the Athenry town map, which he produced by using the wheels of his wheelchair to apply the paint.

It was testimony to Serena’s determination to find a way for him to make his mark – and she found inspiration from other wheelchair artists, like American artist Tom Hollenstein.

Serena enlisted the help of Martin O’Connell, Joshua’s special needs assistant, to produce the painting which now hangs proudly in Clarin College for all to see.

Martin steers the chair, but at Joshua’s direction as he tells Martin how he wants the wheelchair to move across the canvas.

When the painted was posted on social media, it drew a huge reaction and led to Joshua featuring on RTÉ News last week.

And Joshua’s mother Ingrid was understandably proud of her son.

“He’s amazing. It’s a credit to the school and Serena and Martin, and the support he’s had to help realise his skills and abilities,” she said.



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Connacht Tribune

NUIG distributing Covid test kits to students



Breda Smyth, HSE West Director of Public Health Medicine and Personal Professor of Public Health Medicine, NUI Galway pictured with Professor Charles Spillane, Director of NUI Galway's Ryan Institute and PhD students Lorene Lefebvre and Gilles Dupouy and Master's students Killian Marlborough and Brian Joyce at the launch of UniCov in semester one 2021. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

Tens of thousands of antigen test kits are being provided to NUIG students alongside Project UniCoV as part of public health efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19.

From Monday 17 January, students will be able to collect packs at four locations across campus.

Professor Breda Smyth, Chief Investigator of Project UniCoV and HSE West Director of Public Health, urged students to avail of the kits as well as additional testing, by signing up to take part in Project UniCoV.

“Everyone attending campus needs to adhere to the basic public health measures in the first instance – including not coming to campus if you have symptoms and are supposed to be self-isolating or restricting movements.

“Being able to offer free antigen test kits on campus at NUI Galway and giving students the opportunity to take part in Project UniCov demonstrates how we can take a layered approach to public safety and the welfare of students and staff.”

Students can collect five tests at a time. They are being advised to test twice a week, three days apart. They are also being advised to self-isolate if they test positive or develop symptoms and to follow public health advice.

Students are also being encouraged to avail of the option for further free antigen and/or salvia PCR testing for twelve weeks in semester two. A special QR code is being made available to students to support the research.

NUI Galway students are also encouraged to get the vaccine booster, to continue to wear face coverings and sanitise hands. The University saw high levels of compliance from students with public health guidelines during the academic year and we thank them for that.

The distribution of free antigen test kits is funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.


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