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Connacht Tribune

Oughterard’s earliest settlers – going back 7,000 years

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by Bill Daly

It’s a village with a proud history, but even the most learned of historians wouldn’t anticipate that the story of Oughterard goes back almost 7,000 years… way back before the beginnings of written history – into prehistory and the realm of archaeologists.

The village’s ancient history was established after microliths (small stone tools) which were found in 1975 at River Island, where the Owenriff River flows into Lough Corrib.

That allows Oughterard to claim a pedigree to be amongst a very small number of places in Ireland where the first settlers to this country came to live and build their homes, almost 7,000 years ago.

Mesolithic Oughterard is the theme of a presentation that I will deliver on Friday week, April 27, at the Oughterard Courthouse at 8pm, hosted by The Oughterard Heritage Group.

We will look at the geology and landscape the first settlers came into, and also their culture and lifestyle.

However, it will not just be a presentation, because we will be bringing it to life by also presenting physical reconstructions of a Mesolithic house, tools, weapons and artifacts.

To put this into context it is 12,000 years to the end of the last Ice Age. The era between the retreat of the ice and the development of farming is called the Mesolithic, or the Middle Stone Age.

This phase – the one we’re looking at on Friday week – lasted from 8,000BC to 4,000BC, which is over 40% of our recorded time on this Island.

Ireland at that time was completely different than it is now and everywhere was covered in a thick canopy of trees.

The new settlers could move more easily on rivers and lakes, and sought out these places for their refuge. A good supply of water was very important, for drinking purposes and also to attract wild game.

They were the last of the hunter-gatherer people, before humans were to become involved in farming (Neolithic) or metal-working (Bronze Age), but they were also very creative and inventive.

And because they did not grow any crops, or have the ability to store their produce, they had to become very skilled at hunting and fishing.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Biden is a Maree man!

Keith Kelly

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US President-election Joe Biden.

The connections of incoming US President, Joe Biden, to Mayo and Louth on his mother’s side of his family have been widely reported – but it has emerged that he has just as strong links to a small townland outside Oranmore through his father’s side…as recently as four generations ago.

And the news has led to hopes that the President-elect will include a trip to Galway in any itinerary for a visit to Ireland during his presidency – and it is being reported this week that the incoming president will make Ireland his first state visit when he assumes office.

Contact had been made with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office with the news of the President-elect’s Galway links ahead of his visit to Ireland in 2016, but Liam Hanniffy – who has uncovered the link between his family and that of Mr Biden, was told that the itinerary had already been planned, and a visit to Galway was not possible.

Liam Hanniffy, who is from Ballinacourty in Maree, has been researching his family tree since been contacted by a man from America in 2014 saying they were third cousins, and both were also related to the then US Vice-President, Joe Biden.

Research by Liam has discovered that a man called John Hanniffy, who was born just over 200 years ago in Ballinacourty Hill in Maree, is actually the great-great grandfather of the President-elect – and to make the Galway link even stronger, John Hanniffy married a woman whose parents was also born in the same townland, meaning two of his great-great-great grandparents also came from the same townlands nestled on Galway Bay.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Galway all set to re-open for business

Dara Bradley

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Shop Street...business will be back.

Galway has earned the right to re-open – local lockdown sacrifices have suppressed the virus in the community, the latest figures confirm.

The collective effort of city and county residents over six weeks drove down the infection rate to one of the lowest in the country.

Gyms, all retail, hairdressers, personal services and possibly religious services and some entertainment are on course to re-open next week.

Government will announce plans for hospitality, with publicans, and in particular those who don’t serve food, hopeful they won’t be left behind. Plans to ease Christmas visiting restrictions will also be unveiled Friday.

Galway had one of Ireland’s highest Covid-19 figures when the country entered Level 5 lockdown in October but the latest stats reveal a massive turnaround.

Galway recorded 168 new confirmed cases in the fortnight to Monday, which equates to a 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of 65.1, compared with the national average of 107.8. The incidence rate peaked at 313.9 per 100,000 in October when the number of weekly cases in Galway hit a staggering 500 – ten times this week’s total of 50 cases in the seven days up to Monday.

In the week to Saturday, 28 Covid outbreaks were recorded in the West, down from 36 the previous week. Eighteen of the new clusters were in private homes and nine were in extended family and community.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway mum’s support from home as toddler battles rare cancer

Denise McNamara

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Little fighter...Grace Bridges.

A Galway woman living in Sydney has been overwhelmed by the support shown by family and friends in her native Loughrea since her toddler Grace was diagnosed with a rare cancer last January.

“One of my friends said you can see Ireland with all the candles lighting for Grace,” reflects Emma Bane, over the phone from her child’s hospital bed which has become an all-too-familiar second home for the pair.

Yet still Grace fights, beating all the odds, as she approaches her second birthday on December 11. Metastatic Hepatoblastoma is so rare it affects one in a million children.

They returned to Westmead Hospital in the western suburbs of Sydney over a week ago after catching the common cold as her immune system is so compromised after 40 doses of chemotherapy.

Another 30 doses are planned.

“We call her our little warrior princess. She’s had three life-threatening trips to intensive care. When pathology looked at her blood sample her tumour markers were so high they couldn’t quantify them – they’d never seen anything like it. This is the third time we’ve been told she wouldn’t make it.”

Grace gets very sick when undergoing the chemo in 21 days cycles and usually has to be admitted due to severe diarrhoea and dehydration.

After her fifth surgery in September, oncologists warned that this latest round of chemo is her last chance at survival.

“They tell us to be hopeful and so far she’s beaten all the odds. That’s how amazing she is. She’s had 500 needles from February till October and 60 blood transfusions – she’s really been through the mill.”

As have Emma and her husband Adam Bridges.

 

There is a GoFundMe page set up to help with the cost of medical expenses. To contribute go to https://au.gofundme.com/f/grace-bridges

This is the correct address; there was a typographical error in the one which appears in this week’s paper and on the digital edition.

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

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