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On crest of wave with model ships

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Boat-builder Jim Horgan with his scale model of the Santa Maria, the flagship vessel of Christopher Columbus's expedition to the Americas in 1492. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Lifestyle – Making scale models of historic boats is a skill master craftsman Jim Horgan has perfected over the years. Examples of his work, ranging from the vessel in which Columbus sailed to the New World to a post-Famine coffin ship, are displayed in the Galway Crystal shop on the outskirts of the city. The aim is to establish a museum to house these and more historic models, as BERNIE NÍ FHLATHARTA learns.

Galway based boat-builder Jim Horgan is considered to be one of the finest craftsmen in the trade here in Ireland – and another string to bow is his ability to make scale models of traditional Irish vessels. He plays down his skill in this regard, implying that anyone could do it. Indeed, he shares his knowledge through classes and many other people are now building their own models as a result of this.

But Jim has a real talent in being able to scale down naval architectural boat plans so that the end results reflect each boat perfectly.

And anyone with an interest in boats, especially in historical vessels, can see three of Jim’s models in the foyer of the Galway Crystal building on the city’s Old Dublin Road. These exhibits were made to commission and the long-term aim is that they’ll be part of a bigger permanent exhibition of Galway’s maritime history, dating back to the 1400s.

Jim’s model of the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus’ flagship vessel on his journey to the Americas, depicts Galway’s wine trade with Spain and Portugal. Columbus himself is believed to have prayed in the city’s St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church in 1477, 15 years before he took the voyage which led to the European discovery of the Americas.

The second model, the Brig St John was a ship which left Galway in 1849, in the aftermath of the Famine, bound for Boston. She dropped anchor at Leitir Mealláin in South Connemara, taking on additional passengers. Her master was Martin Oliver from the Claddagh. The ship reached Boston a month later but a storm drove her out to sea where she was battered and, despite rescue attempts, 120 passengers perished. Only 22 people survived.

Built in Canada as a cargo ship, she was sold in 1848 to Henry Comerford of Merchants Road and subsequently used to transport some of the thousands of people who emigrated to America from the West of Ireland after the Great Famine.

The third model on display is of the PS Connaught, a paddle-steamer which was the second-largest and most luxurious liner of her time. In her second trans-Atlantic crossing from Galway in 1860, she was carrying 50 first-class passengers, 470 in steerage and 125 crew. She was also carrying a consignment of gold coins.

She sprang a leak when she was only 150 nautical miles from Boston but unfortunately the pumps on board were unable to cope and she sank after one of the boilers on board exploded. However, everyone survived after the Minnie Schiffer, a small cargo ship nearby, managed to rescue all on board. The wreck of the Connaught which went down 160 years ago this week, was discovered by a US salvage company in 2016 and work is still underway to recover the gold coins which had then been valued at about $15 million.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars

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Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.

That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.

Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.

Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.

Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.

“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.

“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.

Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year.  Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.

Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.

Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.

“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.

Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team

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Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78

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Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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