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Connacht Tribune

Pumpkin farm turned into a haven for Halloween




Caroline Whelan at the Pumpkin Patch in Ardrahan.

An enterprising Galway couple are turning their farm into a Halloween haven for youngsters – by getting their Pumpkin Patch ready for another busy season!

Galway Pumpkin Patch – the first of its kind in the West – proved a big hit with the public last year . . . and it is now set to open for its second season this Halloween.

The Pumpkin patch, which is operated by Caroline Whelan and her husband Gerry Quinn in Ardrahan, opens on six dates later this month.

Adults and children can come along for a Halloween-themed day-out, which includes much more than just pumpkin picking. There is fancy dress, Halloween themed games, farm animals on site, and lots more.

The Patch is located on Caroline’s family farm at Castletaylor Demesne in Ardrahan, and she is really looking forward to the event.

“Last year we were procrastinating about opening the Pumpkin Patch – we could see they were so big in the States, and Halloween was getting a lot more popular here, but we thought maybe we were a bit far of the beaten track and needed to be nearer the city,” she said.

“However I think the fact we are quite rural is all part of the allure – it is an excursion for families to come and visit us.

“People are enthralled by the space available for the kids to run around. We have customers come from all over the country, and are so grateful to everyone who takes the time out to visit us,” she added.

The Ardrahan woman believes that we are all now living such fast-paced lives, the Pumpkin Patch is a bit of a reprieve for a few hours.

“I always say what we are offering families is a very simple, rustic, outdoor experience,” said Caroline.

“There are no bouncy castles or computer games – its simple fun – farm animals on show, lots of amusing decor and picture opportunities, old Halloween games like Snap the Apple and Toss the Beanbag through the pumpkin.

“There is so much stimulation for children nowadays – sometimes it’s nice to pare it back to basics.”

She also thinks that people like the idea of authenticity.

“My husband, who works full-time in his father’s Fruit and Vegetable business, trades at a number of Farmers Markets weekly – they have got so popular; people love to come for their home grown veg. Now they are being offered a home grown pumpkin,” she said.

“We are not one of the big supermarket chains – people can follow us on social media and see Gerry takes great pride in his crop. Our pumpkins are grown and harvested with love.”

Castletaylor is a working farm and the animals proved a huge hit with the kids.

“Last year we showcased our vintage tractor, along with some sheep, goats and a Shetland pony,” continued Caroline.

“This year we are hoping to add a rabbit or two to the mix! We also have two special guests who make random appearances – a pair of Alpacas!

“When you grow up on a farm, you forget yourself how much of a novelty that animals are to other children who don’t. We are really looking forward to the events and all we are crossing our fingers for now is for the rain to stop and a bit of fine weather to come our way!”

Galway Pumpkin Patch will open this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 18, 19 and 20 – and again the following Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.

Tickets must be booked in advance at

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell



Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

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

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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