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Connacht Tribune

On crest of wave with model ships

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



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

Armed Garda unit involved in five-hour stand-off

Francis Farragher



A siege-type situation that developed at a house in Connemara was brought to a peaceful conclusion by Gardaí after a five-hour stand-off.

The Connacht Tribune understands that the Gardaí had been trying to execute a bench warrant in relation to the arrest of a woman in her 30s.

However, when Gardaí called to a house at Bealadangan near Leitir Mór at around 9pm on the Wednesday night of last week – where they had established the woman was located – they failed to gain entry despite repeated requests.

Gardaí were concerned that the woman may have been armed, leading to the call-out of the Garda Armed Support Unit.

The stand-off is understood to have lasted for about five hours but came to a conclusion at around 2am on the morning of October 15, when a specialist Garda unit forced their way into the house – the woman, who was alone in the house, was then arrested by the Gardaí.

Inspector Peter Conlon, confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that a stand-off situation that had developed in the Bealadangan area had been brought to a peaceful conclusion.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

77-year-old Peadar in training for his 41st Dublin City Marathon

Francis Farragher



Peadar Nugent pictured with Máire Treasa Beatty after collecting their medallions on completion of the 40th Dublin City Marathon in October, 2019. They are now gearing up for the 41st virtual running of the event on Sunday week next.

The show must go on – even if it’s the Dublin City Marathon, you’re 77-years old, and you have to fast-walk the event on the roads surrounding the fields of Athenry.

Peadar Nugent from Moyvilla, Derrydonnell, does intend to retire from the marathon circuit. But not just yet. He’s planning to hold on for another three years, until he reaches his 80th birthday.

Not for one moment did Peadar have any doubts over participating in his 41st successive Dublin City Marathon, once he knew for definite that the event was going ahead – in virtual format.

The virtual bit means that the marathon field will run their 26 miles and 285 yards in their home areas all across Ireland and be satellite tracked on their mobile phone or Garmin devices.

Despite shoulder, hip and knee surgeries down through the years, Peadar is one of an elite group of 13 athletes who has managed to complete all 40 of the Dublin City Marathons.

Those surgeries and an osteoarthritis diagnosis haven’t diminished Peadar’s enthusiasm for the road by one whit – although he has heeded the surgeon’s advice to walk, rather than run the event, over recent years.

“In previous years, I’ve come in around the five hours and 20 or so minutes mark (roughly 12 minutes a mile) but that’s with a big crowd around and the atmosphere of the occasion.

“This year [the October Bank Holiday Weekend], I’ll be walking it around my own area along with fellow Athenry club member, Máire Treasa Beatty, and I’m hoping to come in at six hours – or maybe just a bit under,” Peadar told the Connacht Tribune this week.

Needless to say, Peadar lives a healthy life. He never drank nor smoked and has hardly ever missed a morning in his life without his usual breakfast – a big bowl of porridge.

“Even on marathon days, my diet has never changed. The bowl of porridge is the perfect food for the marathon – you’re not too full and yet it sustains you.

“During the races themselves, it’s just a case of regular water intakes and about half-way through, one banana. The banana is easy to absorb and it helps to replenish the sugar levels,” said Peadar.

(Photo: Peadar Nugent pictured with Máire Treasa Beatty after collecting their medallions on completion of the 40th Dublin City Marathon in October, 2019. They are now gearing up for the 41st virtual running of the event on Sunday week next).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Health official worried Galway reaching Covid crisis point

Dara Bradley



Coronavirus has ripped through Galway, with an ‘explosion’ of positive cases among the 18-24 age group, as the threat of infection moves ‘closer to home’.

A total of 400 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Galway in a fortnight; 264 of them came in the seven days to Sunday October 11, the worst week on record, when a new daily high for confirmed cases was set.

Among the new cases were staff and children of a city crèche, and an outbreak associated with GAA county final celebrations in Moycullen.

Dr Breda Smyth, Director of Public Health in the West, said there has been a “dramatic increase” in infected young people, which “is a cause for concern”.

She said that the virus was “coming closer to home” for everyone because compared with the Spring, now “we all know of cases within our social networks, or within our communities”.

Wave one in March and April primarily impacted an older demographic and healthcare workers. This second wave is different, with a surge in infection among young people in particular. This has been developing since mid-September, but is not confined to third level students.

“What we’re seeing now, is people who are vulnerable realise that and are protecting themselves more than they did earlier. We are seeing this explosion in infection in the younger population and I think it’s really important that they are mindful of the effect of that.

“We have a young population from 18-24, maybe just thinking that ‘I’m not going to get that sick’. But if they have a part-time job they must remember they could be positive and not know it and bring it into that setting, a restaurant, a bar, a childcare facility, a nursing home. They may be positive because of their activities over the weekend and not know it, because 40% of cases are asymptomatic and they could be spreading it,” she said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the latest facts and figures on Covid-19 in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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