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Mervue to get a second 1916 memorial

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Plans to dig up an unofficial 1916 stone in Mervue have been shelved – for now – but the area is set to get another commemorative plaque, after City Councillors voted in favour of erecting an official one.

A motion calling on Galway City Council to remove the “unauthorised structure” at Connolly Avenue in Mervue was deferred last week.

Councillor Pádraig Conneely (FG), the proposer, demanded its removal but his colleagues ‘kicked to touch’ and instead sought a report from Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath.

Meanwhile, a second motion, calling for a “plaque or memorial garden” to commemorate the 1916 centenary, to be installed at the green area opposite the shopping centre in Mervue, was unanimously agreed. This motion, proposed by Independent Terry O’Flaherty, was on the agenda long before the controversial stone in Connolly Avenue surfaced over Easter.

Councillor Conneely reiterated his opposition to the Connolly Avenue stone. He said it was installed without permission on Council lands and nobody was taking responsibility for it. He again accused “Sinn Féin/IRA” of erecting the stone “in the dead of the night”.

He said it was disingenuous now of Sinn Féin to claim they didn’t know about it, even though it was Sinn Féin Councillor Maireád Farrell who circulated invites to the unveiling; and it was a Sinn Féin Oireachtas member who was asked to launch it.

Cllr Farrell again told her colleagues that it was not a Sinn Féin stone and she felt it was an appropriate way to celebrate the 1916 Rising, 100 years on. She saw no reason why it should be removed.

The Chamber heard that the Easter lily on the stone has since been painted over, and not “daubed in graffiti” as had been suggested in some reports.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) noted during the discussion that the city’s mayor, Frank Fahy, and the office of mayor, was ‘snubbed’ by not getting an invite. Most councillors who spoke said that it was handled badly. They said there is procedure and protocol in place for public areas and they feared that this might set a precedent if it was allowed to stay.

Fianna Fáil’s Michael Crowe said the stone controversy had consumed far too much of Councillors’ time. “I’m not losing sleep over it,” he said, adding that nobody in the area has contacted him about it.

Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said that last Monday week, he was of a mind to remove the stone because it was erected without permission, and no one had claimed responsibility or ownership of it.

At the end of last week, however, the resident’s association wrote to him claiming ownership and calling for it to be retained. Mr McGrath said he would meet with residents and report back to members. Councillors agreed to decide what to do then.

Meanwhile, there were concerns about procedure and protocol in relation to Councillor O’Flaherty’s proposal for a plaque opposite the shops in Mervue.

This proposal had missed the deadline for applications for funding under the Council’s 1916 commemoration budget. The meeting heard however, that in the context of the Central Ward (Shantalla) and West Ward (Knocknacarra) both receiving funds for 1916 commemorative gardens, it would be appropriate that the East Ward (Mervue) would be funded too.

Senior Executive Officer, Gary McMahon, said: “There would be a certain symmetry to it”.

Mr McGrath said there might be some money for the Mervue proposal but councillors or the community would have to come up with the shortfall. Councillor O’Flaherty’s motion was supported by all councillors.

 

Connacht Tribune

US basketball champion boasts impeccable Galway roots

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Galway roots...Pat Connaughton.

An Irish American basketball player with impeccable Galway roots helped end a 50-year NBA famine for the Milwaukee Bucks last week.

Boston-born Pat Connaughton, whose grandparents hail from Clostoken, Loughrea, played a pivotal part in his side clinching the NBA championship final series over the Phoenix Suns.

The 6ft 5in shoot guard was involved in all six games of the final series, including the last, which the Bucks won 105-98.

Afterwards, the 28-year-old said: “It’s incredible. The fans supported us through thick and thin. They’ve had our backs. To be able to do it and to win it and to be able to call ourselves World champions in front of our own fans . . . it’s incredible. The city of Milwaukee deserves it and I’m just proud that I could be a part of a team, with my teammates, that gave it to them.”

One of his cousins in Loughrea, Madeleine Connaughton, told the Connacht Tribune that his relations in Galway were incredibly proud of his achievement.

“It’s absolutely brilliant; he’s a celebrity in our eyes because he has done so well,” said Madeleine.

“It’s brilliant that Pat is flying the flag for us over there. He was the only person to play both professionally, baseball and basketball with Notre Dame. He was as good a baseball player as basketball and had to choose.”

Madeleine joked that there ‘is a clatter of us’ in Loughrea related to Pat Connaughton, including the Connaughtons, Tierneys, Keanes and Burkes.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway duo make sporting history as out first Olympic medallists

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Ireland rowers (from left) Aifric Keogh from Furbo, Eimear Lambe from Dublin, Fiona Murtagh from Moycullen and Emily Hegarty from Cork celebrate on the podium with their Olympic bronze medals after the Women's Four final at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The motto of the Ireland Women’s Coxless Four team, which includes Galway’s first ever Olympic medallists, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh, has been drilled into them by coach Giuseppe De Vita: ‘Winter miles makes Summer smiles.’

At twenty-three minutes past two on Wednesday morning Irish time, during the Tokyo Olympic medal presentation ceremony at a windswept Sea Forest Waterway, the rowing quartet’s smiles beamed from ear-to-ear.

It was a testament to the hard graft they’ve put into the sport over many years, especially the past 18 months, and the last eight weeks in particular in the build-up to the biggest six minutes of their careers to date.

Keogh (29) from Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, Fiona Murtagh (26) from Gortachalla in Moycullen, and Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty were well entitled to smile after a remarkable rowing performance that earned them bronze medals in the Women’s Fours Final.

As they presented each other with their medals, in keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, and waved their bouquets into the air, back home, their smiles lit up the television and computer screens in living rooms of their family, friends and new legion of fans throughout the land.

It was a history-making feat – Galway’s first Olympic medallists, Ireland’s first women rowers to win Olympic medals, and the nation’s first at Tokyo 2020.

Both women were ecstatic afterwards as they spoke with the Connacht Tribune via Zoom from the media centre in the Olympic Village.

Read the full interview with Galway’s Olympic heroes in today’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie   

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Connacht Tribune

Olympic dream comes true for Galway sprinting star

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Cillín Greene's parents Sinead and Cole and sisters Iarlaith (left) and Miriam above the Olympic flag on the Nine Arches in Claregalway. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It was March, 2019 when the Olympic dream of Cillín Greene went up in smoke – or so everyone thought.

On day one of the European Indoor championships in Glasgow, the Claregalway sprinter was progressing nicely in a 400m heat.

He was in lane two, minding his own business, when, all of a sudden, he was ‘bounced’ by a Polish competitor on his inside.

Cillín steadied himself after the collision but was unable to react quick enough to hop over a Czech runner who tumbled in front of him. Both hit the deck. Bad enough that his race was run; worse again, afterwards it emerged he’d sustained a serious injury.

“He was knocked on the track and broke his elbow,” recalled his father, Colman.

“I think it put his whole make-up out of line for a long time. He started pulling hamstrings after that, and things like that. It took a long time to get it right. It’s like a fine-tuned sports car, everything has to be right. Last year, he had a lot of injuries and he wasn’t really going anywhere,” he said.

Glasgow was just over a year out from the Tokyo Olympic Games, and almost certainly wiped his chances of qualification.

But then Covid-19 delayed the Games, giving time to rehab; and the Galway City Harriers clubman worked relentlessly in Lockdown to get back on track.

The result? This Friday, along with another Galway man, Robert McDonnell (19) from Knocknacarra, 23-year-old Cillín Greene will become an Olympian when he competes in the mixed 4x400m relay heat at the Olympic Stadium at 12 noon Irish time.

See the full story – and comprehensive Olympic coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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