A Galway native and former national rally champion – who also scaled mountains and ran Ultramarathons for charity – is undertaking his biggest challenge yet…. to become a horseracing jockey and ride on three of Ireland’s most famous tracks.
Rally driver Frank Byrnes is opting for a different type of horsepower as he takes on the Curragh, Navan and Leopardstown in order to raise funds for the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund.
The Oranmore businessman – Managing Director of Frank Byrnes Autobody Repairs Ltd – has been awarded his jockey’s licence by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.
And this will enable him to participate in the 2018 Corinthian Challenge Horse Racing Series in aid of the Irish Injured Jockeys and to race on some of the most famous race tracks in the horse racing world.
In order to obtain the licence, Frank was examined thoroughly on all aspects of horsemanship and equine care at the Irish Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE) based at The Curragh.
Intense preparation both through riding out at the facilities of Ranch Racing in Kilcolgan under their trainer Stephen Mahon and physically enduring road running combined with intensive gym sessions ensured that Frank was successful in the recent assessment.
The Irish Injured Jockeys provides support through financial means, assistance in recovery and, if necessary, retraining in a prompt and sympathetic manner to those jockeys past or present who are injured, unable to ride or generally in need. Raising public awareness with activities such as The Corinthian Challenge Series is a top priority so that the urgent need for extra funds is highlighted.
Between July and October, Frank will ride in three horse races on Ireland’s top racetracks.
First up is the Curragh on July 22 for the Kilboy Estate Stakes day. This will give Frank the opportunity to ride over the famous Derby track which has seen horses like Nijinsky, Galileo and Montjeu win on its soil.
The second leg will take place in Navan on September 23, their first National Hunt card of the season – with the final leg on Tote Handicap Day in Leopardstown on October 27.
The Corinthian Challenge Series is the latest charity project which Frank has undertaken however, to date Frank and his Company have raised €100,000 for a variety of charities, both local and national.
These started in 2011 and 2012 with charity fun days on his premises, followed in 2014 by Santa’s Grotto!
Climb4Cancer was his 2015 initiative, where a group representing the Irish accident repair industry and their motor trade partners took on the gruelling four peaks challenge to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society by climbing the highest mountains in each of Ireland’s four provinces over three days.
Then 2016 saw his most arduous undertaking – Never Give Up – where through a set of endurance runs ranging from a marathon to two marathons back to back on the same weekend to the Wicklow Way 50 mile Ultramarathon, Frank highlighted awareness and raised funds for Oranmore Maree Coastal Search Unit of which he is a member.
Now Frank will be fundraising in aid of the Irish Injured Jockeys over the coming weeks and months. Donations can be made online HERE
Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars
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.
Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team
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.
Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78
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