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Rescue service seeks public’s help in training of specialist dogs



An increase in the number of missing persons in Galway has prompted the Galway Dog Search and Rescue Unit to appeal for volunteers to help them with the training of their rescue dogs.

The unit has been involved in the search for more than ten missing persons in Galway City and county and from Sligo to Athlone.

GDSRU was instrumental in recovering the body of missing person Mags Berry, who was found in Merlin Woods area of the city last February.

The search and rescue unit – founded by Barry Breen – has been in operation for over two years. The unit’s lead trainer is Lucy Callaly – and her dog, Asha, is currently the only fully-trained dog within the unit.

“It started off with my partner, she was pushing me to basically train her dog for search and rescue. She had an interest in search and rescue and cadaver,” explained Barry.

“I did some training for about five or six years, where I trained her dog which is our only qualified dog at the moment. There are four other dogs currently in training right now,” he added.

The training initially is quite basic, such as getting the dog to obey certain commands – for example simply getting the dog to bark.

Following this, the search training begins, with the dog attempting to sniff out training volunteers who are feigning difficulty or hiding in a specific location.

The training area gradually becomes larger in scale, thus increasing the difficulty on the canine until their training is eventually complete.

“We are looking for people who want to work with dogs – and they would be the person hiding. Then the second thing is for people who would be interested in actually training their dogs for search and rescue.

“I’d be training their dogs obviously but they would have to be willing themselves,” said Barry.

The group are looking for people who are comfortable around animals and won’t be put off by close contact with the dogs.

“There is no specific breed but it’s preferably larger dogs. It’s all down to the temperament of the dog.

“We need to factor the probability that the dog is possibly bold and boisterous and that kind of thing,” explained Barry.

For those interested in volunteering for the unit or for more information, visit


Galway is seventh-worst city in Europe for car traffic congestion



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Car traffic congestion in Galway is quickly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, with commuters spending up to 94 hours caught on the city’s gridlocked arteries last year.

According to data compiled by INRIX, a world-leader in mobility data, Galway is the seventh-worst city in Europe for congestion, an 84% increase on its position in 2021.

The data shows that Galway places in the worst 50 cities in the world for congestion – taking 39th place, with Dublin the only other Irish city placing higher at Number 12.

While the figures show that car traffic has not fully returned to pre-Covid levels, the 2022 figures came within 13% of 2019 congestion rates.

This was despite vast numbers continuing to work from home last year, a worrying trend according to the local People Before Profit representative Adrian Curran.

In Cork, Limerick and Dublin, there had been a more lasting effect, showing decreases of 20%, 26% and 29% respectively, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Galway 2020 paid €110,000 for PR while cutting spends on arts events



From this week’s City Tribune – Galway 2020’s bank account statements for five months of 2020 reveal thousands of euro were spent on public relations firms and media advertising when its cultural programme was being cut and ‘revised’ during the upheaval at the onset of Covid-19.

The AIB statements date from April to September of 2020, when Covid-19 had seriously curtailed cultural activities of Galway 2020, the company behind the city and county’s European Capital of Culture. They show more than €110,000 was paid to Dublin-based public relations firm Q4 PR, in three separate payments in April, May and June of 2020.

Thousands more were paid to other public relations firms, radio stations and, to a lesser extent, newspapers.

In March of that year, Galway 2020 announced it was reviewing its programme of events due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Government after a global pandemic was declared, curtailing all events.

On April 7, it confirmed it was laying off staff and had ended its agreement with Helen Marriage and Artichoke which was providing creative direction.

Later that month, it issued statements to say it was exploring a ‘re-imagined’ programme of events to take place at the end of 2020 and 2021.

Although the amounts paid to media and PR companies other than Q4 PR are relatively small, compared with expenditure on other headings, the payments suggest the importance Galway 2020 placed on image and public perception around that time.

The bank statements were released to the Galway City Tribune following a protracted Freedom of Information request and after an appeal to the Office of Information Commissioner.

Many of the payees in the bank statements were redacted but the names of several PR and media organisations are listed as having been paid by Galway 2020.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article with details of the spending, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also coverage of this week’s rebranding and new vision of Galway 2020. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Plans for major upgrade of community centre to benefit Mervue



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Plans for a major overhaul of the community centre in the basement of Mervue Church – including activity rooms, a meeting room, training space and a hairdressing salon – have been lodged at City Hall.

It will employ more than 20 people on a full and part-time basis – including Community Employment Scheme workers.

COPE Galway has sought planning permission for a series of changes to the Holy Family Church including alterations to the basement layout; a new main entrance; concrete stairs from the carpark and the reopening of windows at basement level.

“The proposed refurbished and upgraded community centre will provide a vibrant and dynamic space for the community of Mervue. The space will act as a central hub and meeting place which can be used for a variety of community activities, meetings and events,” the application reads.

It notes a series of “typical occupants” including: reception;  an information hub; general activity room (arts and crafts, games and light exercise); sensory/meditation room; clinic room for health checks and physiotherapy; space for people with dementia; toilets and shower room; pet therapy area; space for teens/young adults; laundry; hairdressing salon; computer training room; meeting room (with possibility of rental to local groups); small café and kitchen, space for a men’s shed and an outside garden with seating area.

“The centre will also provide employment and will be staffed with a diversity of employees, including Community Employment Scheme workers and volunteers of differing age and other social demographics,” the application reads.

Image: An artist’s impression of the cafe in the proposed centre.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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