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Connacht Tribune

Show to summit all up

Judy Murphy



Lifestyle – He has explored some of the most inhospitable places on Earth, but extreme climber Andy Kirkpatrick says Galway is one of the coldest places he has ever been. The adventurer and comic will talk about his experiences in The Town  Hall Theatre next month,  and ahead of that show, he  sat down and spoke to  Judy Murphy

Extreme climber Andy Kirkpatrick has been to the most inhospitable reaches of Antarctica. He has spent 15 days during Winter on a solo climb of The Dru, a vertical mountain in the French Alps. He made the first ascent of the South ridge of the Ulvertanna in Antarctica, spending 14 days climbing in minus 30 degrees to reach the top.

So, the 46-year-old is a hardy soul. But despite first-hand experiences of some very chilly spots, Andy regards his wife Vanessa’s homeplace of Galway as one of the coldest places on Earth. That was his opinion in 2015 on his first visit here, and it’s a view he still holds.

“It’s the wind,” says the English adventurer and comic who will be at the Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday, April 3, to present his show Psychovertical: A Higher Education.

Despite that, Andy would live in Galway if he had his way but Vanessa hates the rain, so while they are based in Ireland, Bray is home.

Not at the moment, though, as the pair have leased their house to go travelling and enjoy more rocky adventures worldwide. And there’s Andy’s tour, in which he shares his experiences of climbing in some of the world’s most dangerous places, adding a dash of humour to his tales of derring-do.

Everest may be the world’s highest mountain, but it doesn’t interest him because it’s not vertical and it doesn’t have an overhanging rock; “it’s a walk”, he remarks.

Andy’s speciality is vertical climbing on rocks of more than 1,000 metres in height – the equivalent of two and a half World Trade Centers. And he tends to climb them in winter, in temperatures of minus 30 degrees,

He has scaled the 1,000-metre high El Capitan in California’s Yosemite Park more than 24 times, including three solo ascents and a one-day ascent, which lasted 18 hours.

Growing up in a block of flats in the English city of Hull might not seem like a usual background for a rock-climber, but as Andy points out, people are often drawn to what they don’t have.

“People in the desert might like to go and live in Galway where it rains all the time,” he says with a laugh. In his case, his love of the great outdoors developed via his father. His parents were separated and when “I’d go to see my dad, he’d take us into the country and the hills”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Biden is a Maree man!

Keith Kelly



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

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Connacht Tribune

Galway all set to re-open for business

Dara Bradley



Shop 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

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Connacht Tribune

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

Denise McNamara



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

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

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