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Race helps fund care for Galway man devastated by fall

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They say that good friends are hard to come by – but Ollie Burke, a young Galway man who suffered severe head injuries due to a fall nine years ago, is lucky to have some of the best.

Ollie fell from a ladder while carrying out electrical work in 2007 – resulting in an acquired brain injury.

He was left in need of round-the-clock care due to the severity of his injuries and the incapacitation they caused.

As with all medical care, this came at high cost, and the lack of an insurance policy to cover these expenses made life even more difficult for Ollie and those who care for him.

‘Friends of Ollie’ was set up by friends of the former GAA player to help meet the mounting costs and at 3pm on June 11, they will hold their seventh annual ‘Run for Ollie’ in Milltown – all in an effort to ease the heavy financial burden of his daily medical care.

Last year, over 600 people took part in the 10km charity run and organisers are hoping to recreate that same success this year.

Gerard Bowen, a friend of Ollie, explained that they could see the strain being put on the family to cover the €3,000 a month they needed for Ollie’s care.

“Myself and a few friends went over to visit Ollie when he came home to the house, and the family said that things were very tough – so we said amongst ourselves that something had to be done,” said Gerard.

Ollie lives at home with his mother and his brother and requires ongoing rehabilitation – with even simple tasks presenting huge difficulties.

“Unfortunately there was no insurance in place to fund Ollie’s care so we need to raise money to look after him. He needs 24 hour supervision and has difficulty doing ordinary tasks.

“He recognises his family but can’t communicate how he feels. Ollie is blind in one eye and has limited use of his left hand. He can walk which is great but he’s unable to leave the house unaccompanied. He has also developed serious epilepsy and is prone to regular seizures.

“It simply goes without saying that we, and Ollie’s family, need all the help we can get,” said Gerard.

‘Friends of Ollie’ is calling on all athletes, runners and walkers to come to Milltown on the day and support this very worthy cause.

Gerard said that the support that they receive from the, community and further afield, is hugely appreciated and makes what is a very difficult situation just a little more manageable.

“We are very fortunate that this has gone so well; seven years on, we hope that we can keep up that support.

“As long as we can keep the numbers up, we can maintain his care – and this really is our only option,” said Gerard.

The event is sponsored this year by Health West Pharmacy and the first 100 participants to register will receive a free care pack – courtesy of the pharmacy.

Entry to the run costs €25 with every cent going towards Ollie’s care. Participants can register at runireland.com or visit friendsofollie.com for more information.

Connacht Tribune

Confusion reigns – but publicans continue serving pints outdoors

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Galway City publicans continued this week to serve alcohol in newly created on-street outdoor dining sections – despite warnings from Gardaí that it was against licensing laws.

The local branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said it is hoping Government will, if necessary, introduce legislation that facilitates pubs serving alcohol in public spaces reclaimed for outdoor hospitality.

On Friday last, our sister newspaper, Galway City Tribune revealed that Gardaí had visited a number of city pubs warning they were not legally permitted to serve alcohol outdoors in temporary on-street seating areas created by Galway City Council.

Publicans were told that if they continued to flout the rules, files would be sent to the DPP.

When the crux subsequently hit the national headlines, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys urged Gardaí to ‘use their discretion’.

“The overwhelming majority of licensed premises are operating safely, and we in Government are determined to continue to support them. If local issues arise, I would urge local authorities, Gardaí and businesses to engage.

“However, I will also examine whether further measures are required from Government. Licensing law is a complex area but I have spoken to the Attorney General this morning and we will take further action if necessary,” Minister Humphreys said.

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

Apple plans second bite at Athenry data centre

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An artist's impression of the proposed Apple Data Centre.

Apple intends to have another bite at plans to build a data centre in Athenry.  Apple Operations Europe has applied to Galway County Council for more time to construct a controversial data centre on a greenfield site at Derrydonnell.

The company said it will identify “interested parties to develop the project” between now and 2026 to meet global growth in demand for data storage facilities.

It will spark hope in the County Galway town of a revival of the €850 million project that was dogged for years by planning delays and court appeals and was subsequently shelved. It may also attract fresh objections.

The world’s largest technology company was granted planning permission to build a €850 million data centre near Athenry in 2015.

An appeal to An Bórd Pleanála by a handful of local residents was not successful, and the planning appeals board confirmed the local authority’s decision in 2016.

But the company ultimately aborted its plans for County Galway in 2018 after three objectors sought a review of the decision through the courts.

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

Mum’s dream holiday turns to nightmare after cancer diagnosis

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Julia McAndrew, in hospital in Mexico.

A mother who went to Mexico on a dream holiday to spend Christmas with family is too weak to return home after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

From the minute Julia McAndrew landed in the South American country, her health took a major downward spiral.

Her son and daughter were shocked when she asked for a wheelchair to make it through the airport.

She and daughter Eliska had flown out to see her son Patrick, who had relocated to Mexico to run an online learning business.

They initially thought she had fallen ill due to the rigours of a 22-hour, multi-stop flight.

But when her stomach problems did not improve and she began to lose a lot of weight and suffered from very low energy, they sought medical help.

This had to be done privately and without the financial help of an insurance company, Patrick reveals.

She was initially diagnosed with anaemia and kidney failure and underwent various treatments, including blood transfusions that appeared to be working.

But three weeks ago, medics discovered that what she had was Stage 4 breast cancer. Julia had cancer a decade ago but was given the all-clear after receiving treatment and a major change in lifestyle.

“It’s returned with a vengeance this time around. It’s spread to her pelvis, ribs and lungs,” reflects Patrick.

The cost of the treatment is $40,000 (€33,000) a month. Her family are hoping to build up her strength enough to endure the long flight home to Oranmore.

They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise €280,000 to pay for her treatment and in less than a week a phenomenal €36,000 has been donated.

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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