Dozens of enterprising students are making a break for the border this weekend – trying to cross a substantial part of Europe without spending a cent.
Among them will be Meabh Tarpey from Bushy Park and Róisín Dunne from Furbo, who will be aiming for success in this Jailbreak Charity Challenge, an annual student-run, travel contest.
The concept sees students compete in teams, making their way across borders to a set destination they will only discover shortly prior to setting off on their 36-hour adventure this Saturday.
They have to raise money to enter, and from there on they must depend solely the kindness of others – and their innate blagging skills to reach their target.
All proceeds raised are split between charities St. Vincent de Paul and Amnesty International.
Róisín and Meabh – both former Jes girls – are freshman students with Trinity College, Dublin. Róisín is studying for her B. Sc. in Clinical Speech and Language Studies whilst Meabh is taking her undergrad studies in B.E.S.S. (Business, Economics and Social Studies).
And they know that their quest is a test of endurance – those engaging in the trial have accepted their fate of no sleep for the forthcoming days.
“We have already accepted that we’re not going to sleep over the duration of this challenge,” Róisín confesses.
For many, lack of sleep coupled with planes, trains, buses, taxis, hitching and walking may sound like an absolute nightmare.
But not for the young and buoyant like Róisín and Meabh. “We can’t wait; it’s going to be so much fun,” says Róisín.
So far, the girls have raised over €1,000 for charity, through coffee mornings fuelled by donations of cake from local bakeries and shops. They also received support from local businesses Aró Digital Strategy and O’Leary Insurance.
And they won’t stop there. “We want to continue to fundraise as much as possible to meet this year’s goal,” says Róisín.
Overall the students have set themselves the ambitious target of raising €50,000, with €15,000 collected so far.
Jailbreak 2016 is set to be the most exciting and most challenging yet. Not only must contestants meet at ‘Location X’ as in previous years – they must also meet at ‘Location Y’ and compete in four charity challenges along the way.
The girls will join their comrades and competitors – including other Galway entrants Stephanie Coll and Sophie Kinerns – for a Friday briefing, outlining the parameters and challenges for the competition.
Last year, the competition sounded at 9am on a Saturday morning; with the final destination only being announced at midday.
The target was Lake Bled, Slovenia – a stunning glacial lake in the Alps – deliberately chosen to make it difficult for challengers, who had to make way to this off-the-beaten-track location without spending any money of their own.
The 2015 event included 88 teams, all of whom raised €300 pre-departure. This year 100 teams are reportedly taking part and each team must raise a compulsory €400 pre-departure.
Jailbreak has altered its format once again with extra locations, challenges and flight restrictions being introduced.
Four rules apply: no money is permitted – students must fundraise and blag their way; flights over two hours are disallowed, as are flights out of the same country they flew into.
And this year, participants are also saddled with a further challenge which states they must complete four charity challenges before their team finishes.
Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Management at University Hospital Galway have been asked to investigate ‘as a matter of urgency’ an allegation that a security employee at the hospital returned to work within the 14-day restriction period after coming back from a ‘red-list’ country.
The person has already worked at least two shifts at the hospital – including looking after an elderly patient – despite the fact that the restriction period would not have expired until this Sunday, September 20.
The Galway City Tribune can reveal that in a letter from SIPTU official to a senior UHG manager, it is alleged there was breach of protocol over recent days by an employee of an outsourced security company.
According to the letter to Services Manager Geoff Ginnety, while the worker was not covered under HSE employee rules, “they still must comply with the Government issued protocols”.
The letter from SIPTU states that the worker in question had told his colleagues that he was in a red-listed country and that ‘he did not have to restrict his movements’ for 14 days and could return to work.
“I request that you [Services Manager at UHG] address these concerns as a matter of urgency and provide clear guidance on how to deal with the issue,” the SIPTU letter states.
According to information accessed by the Galway City Tribune, the employee in question returned from a red-listed country on September 6 last and underwent a test for Covid-19 five days later on September 11.
Shortly after that, according to his employers, the results of his Covid tests came back as negative. The Galway City Tribune understands that he returned to his night-shift work on Tuesday night, September 15, and also worked the Wednesday night shift of September 16.
This newspaper has also been informed by reliable sources that on his first night back on duty the employee was left in charge of an elderly patient, while on his second night back at work, he was dutied to the Emergency Department.
When contacted by the Galway City Tribune, a spokesperson for the HSE said that they could not comment on issues relating to individual staff.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Leisureland sinks with €20,000 per week losses
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The plug is being pulled on Leisureland – leaving hundreds of swimmers, mostly children, and trainee lifeguards, high and dry.
Galway Salthill Fáilte CLG, the company that operates the publicly-owned facility, has confirmed it plans to shut down its swimming pool and gym, leaving members of six aquatic clubs, hundreds of schoolchildren, and the general public, without an amenity for the foreseeable future.
Swimming clubs fear they will lose a whole generation of young swimmers in Galway if the pool closes. And they have warned that it could end up costing €1 million to repair and reopen the pool after a prolonged closure.
Leisureland blamed the impact of coronavirus for its financial woes, with losses running at an average of €20,000 per week.
The company said that by August it had already spent its annual €300,000 subsidy subvention from Galway City Council, and the local authority has indicated it is not in a position to increase the subsidy further in 2020.
The planned closure – which could result in the furloughing of over 20 staff from next month – has shocked the local aquatic community.
A lengthy hiatus with Leisureland closed will mean Galway will lose a ‘whole generation’ of swimmers, according to Eamon Caulfield, President of Galway Swimming Club and member and former chairperson of Corrib Water Polo Club.
“We’re particularly upset and aggrieved that this is going ahead, it’s shocking. They should be looking to reverse this decision,” he said this week.
The majority of the five aquatic clubs that use the facility (Galway SC, Shark SC, Laser SC and Tribes and Corrib water polo clubs) are made up of children aged 10-18, including some international athletes. Hundreds of children from Galway schools also learn to swim there.
A water safety group has been using the pool every Sunday morning since it opened in 1973, he said.
“Historically it is where Galway gets its lifeguards from. How can you not have swim lessons in a public pool? How can you not have water safety taught in a pool in Galway?
“It beggars belief, we’re on the sea. The water safety people, where are they going to go, how are we going to get lifeguards for beaches? How are we going to get teachers for teaching swimming?” asked Mr Caulfield.
The clubs have roughly 150 members each and generate €150,000 revenue annually for Leisureland.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full version, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Galway Gardaí get more than 1,000 house party calls
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway Gardaí have responded to more 1,000 house calls relating to house parties during the pandemic from mid-March to early September – the vast majority of them in the city area, it was revealed this week.
Chief Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Galway City Tribune, that the figures for house party Garda call-outs were ‘startling’ and a source of major concern.
“This is a no-brainer. For anyone thinking of a house party, the simple message is – don’t do it. A serious amount of Garda time is now being spent dealing with house-party related incidents,” he said.
Between March 18 and September 1 this year, the Galway Garda Division responded to 1,034 house-party related calls, most of them in the city area.
“This a real and pressing issue not only for the Gardaí and the health authorities but also for the general public at large.
“Large numbers of people gathering in an enclosed house setting can be potentially disastrous in terms of our efforts to contain the spread of this virus. House parties are out – it’s as simple as that,” said Chief Supt Curley.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read more on Covid in Galway, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.