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Sole trader Tony a sought-after shoemaker

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Fifty five years of shoemaking has resulted in a Ballinasloe businessman becoming one of the country’s most sought-after traders when it comes to specially-made footwear.

At 70, the service that Tony Murphy provides is in great demand and particularly from those who require orthopaedic shoes.

He worked in some of the big name companies in shoemaking over the years but is happy to continue in the profession which he learned as a 15 year old.

Tony designs and manufactures shoes for those requiring orthopaedic footwear and the business has been operating in Ballinasloe for the past 30 years.

It has been a profession that has taken Tony to many parts of the country during his long career in shoemaking.

He took to the craft because of his father Kevin, who, at the age of 97, still offers him advice on a weekly basis.

The Dundalk native has spent most of his life manufacturing shoes and at one time was employed by Dubarry in Ballinasloe.

Tony started off with Clark’s in Dundalk, his home town, as an apprentice designer at the age of 15 and as his knowledge and experience grew he moved to Dublin to join James Winstanley Ltd.

During his time at James Winstanley he won the award for ″the potential bestseller″ shoe design and was presented with a trophy by the then Minister for Industry, David Andrews.

Tony’s passion for shoemaking continued to grow and he moved on to take up a position with Lee Boot in Cork, where he spent five enjoyable years.

He was then head-hunted by Dubarry Shoes in Ballinasloe and came to live in the town in 1977. Tony’s position as Chief Designer took him all over the country and the continent to attend shoe exhibitions and leather merchants.

Tony had always dreamed of opening his own business and, with the encouragement of his wife Ann, he took a leap of faith and decided to set up his own bespoke and orthopaedic footwear business in 1983.

It was located in what was then known as Cullen’s Yard in the heart of Ballinasloe, a place which he decided to make his home.

The business began to expand and Tony developed a loyal client base through his attention to his customer’s needs and his inherent love of his craft.

In the year 2000 Tony and Ann purchased the site and built a permanent new premises from where they continue to work at the moment – they have no plans of retiring.

Tony worked in conjunction with the Health Service Authority making footwear for client’s who had medical cards.

In 2007, as the recession took hold, this contract was rescinded by the HSE and consequentially Tony’s clients were unable to have their footwear made by him.

Tony recalls that this has caused great distress to many of his clients. One of Tony’s clients has not had a pair of shoes that she can wear in seven years.

Tony has loyally been repairing the shoes he made for her in 2007 on a yearly basis.

“This situation illustrates that some decisions made by the Government with the intention of being ‘cost saving’ turn out to be more expensive in the long run, as they have a detrimental effect on the overall health of our clients,” Tony said.

Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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Prizewinners at Ballinasloe Show on October 5, 1970. From left: Matthew Conneely, Kilconnell, Matthew Conneely (Junior), John Callanan, Calla, Kilconnell and Seán Conneely, Kilconnell.

1921

Grim legacy

“What did we get from the Government in the Famine?” asked the Most Rev. Dr. Duggan. And the answer was, “The Poorhouses.” They came as a legacy of these grim years, a miserable palliative instead of a radical cure.

When 1845 opened, there were 114 of them throughout Ireland, and impoverished ratepayers had to pay for their upkeep. Their erection was, indeed, in some measure, instituted as a relief work.

The famine had swept over the land, leaving us the most tragic chapters in our history. Grim, black death in a country where there was plenty, if only it had been efficiently distributed, and kept for the hapless people at home.

The Irish Poor Law was rooted in misery, and continued throughout all these years as a cumbersome degradation, designed for the encouragement of the mendicant and the wastrel, to crush the last vestige of self-respect from those whom it once caught within its toils.

With the exception of the admirable boarding-out systems instituted by some of our more humane boards – notably Galway Guardians, whose clerk took a keen personal interest in making some of his charges into good citizens – we know no instance in which the vicious Poor Laws as operated in Ireland did anything but harm.

They ground down the ratepayers; they did not serve the poor in any measure commensurate with the expenditure involved in an army of officials, an array of buildings that badged with poverty one of the finest agricultural countries in the world.

Unions amalgamated

On the motion of Dr. Walsh, Galway Co. Council at its quarterly meeting on Saturday finally adopted a scheme for “the amalgamation of the county unions” – in reality, for doing away with the unions altogether as such.

The scheme under which the Poor Laws of the country will be administered on an entirely new basis, will be as follows: One central hospital for Galway with motor ambulances; one central home for the old and infirm in Tuam or Loughrea; children to be sent to an institution for which one workhouse may be used; unmarried mothers to be divided into two classes – first offenders to be dealt with in the same institution as the children and old offenders to be sent to the Magdalen Asylum; insane and epileptics to be put in a county home at present until they can be specially dealt with.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Preying for success

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John Carrig with Erin. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Lifestyle A voluntary group working to ensure the survival and success of Ireland’s endangered barn owl is getting a positive response from landowners and schools throughout Galway. Its founder, wildlife photographer John Carrig, tells STEPHEN CORRIGAN how small changes can make a big difference and how the Barn Owl Project plans to spread its wings and work with community groups nationwide.

When wildlife photographer John Carrig founded the Barn Owl Project in 2019, what was known about this endangered species of bird’s presence throughout Galway was limited to say the least.

Official records from BirdWatch Ireland documented just six or eight nesting sites around the county, but since John and the team behind the project got to work, up to 50 have been identified.

While some of these have been created through the placement of nest boxes by this team of local volunteers whose work extends beyond just Galway, many more nests were there just waiting to be discovered – and protected.

The Barn Owl Project’s work is not limited to the location of unregistered sites, though. A huge part of what the volunteers do is education, through visiting schools and community groups and through talking to landowners who, in many ways, hold the fate of these mesmerising creatures in their hands.

One of the main threats posed to the barn owl is secondary poisoning with rodenticide – when the owl feeds on rats and mice that have been poisoned, causing them to die as a result.

This, coupled with a lack of suitable nesting sites and road collisions, has led to a declining population, to the point where the barn owl now has ‘red conservation status’.

“The barn owl has always been well-known in Ireland, but most people have never seen one. It’s called the ‘scréachóg reilige’ in Irish and 150 years ago, people would have known them as ‘the Banshee’, because of the noise they make,” says John.

“They were very prevalent in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s and were known as the farmer’s friend because they were a way of controlling rodents. Farmers would leave a hole in the apex of the barn because they knew it would attract them in,” he adds, although despite their name, they don’t necessarily nest in barns.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Revive Active launches a supplement for menopause

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Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

A lot of us got in on the Revive Active supplements when they were the brainchild of Galway man Dáithi O’Connor in 2011.  Hot on the heels of its supplements specifically formulated for juniors and teens – and following two years of research – the Galway-headquartered company has launched a new super supplement range for women to take during and after menopause.

Meno Active has a sachet and capsule to be taken together once daily containing 30 vitamins, minerals, omega 3, digestive enzymes, plant extracts and strains of live friendly bacteria.

Ingredients include Vitamin B6 to regulate hormones, biotin, magnesium, thiamine and iodine for the nervous system, omega 3 for brain function, vitamin C to counteract tiredness, and the plant extracts ashwagandha for stress, sage for perspiration and memory loss and green tea to help with blood pressure.

When I went to see a practitioner for symptoms of perimenopause, I was prescribed about 10 different supplements, many of them these ones, which cost a small fortune. I needed a reminder on my phone throughout the day to remember which ones to take and when.

Meno Active costs €60 a month and is recommended for at least three months to help ease the long, long list of horrible symptoms that the change of life may bring.

I’ve been taking this for nearly a month and it’s very easy to take – the only rule is take it 30 minutes before food. It tastes pleasant enough, kind of citrusy, I just mix it in a glass of cool boiled water.

I’ve definitely had a burst of energy with it and it’s helped with night sweats already. Not so sure whether it will help with the mood swings, which my family tell me are shocking, but I will give it another two months to see if that miracle is going to bless this house.

Available from most chemists and health food shops.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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