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Connacht Tribune

Taking to the hills for mind and body

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Members of the Moycullen club, overlooking Ballynahinch Lake en route to Benlettery (577m) in the Twelve Bens.

Lifestyle – Excercising in the fresh air while enjoying great scenery and living in the moment while stepping out of your comfort zone are just some of the benefits of hillwalking. In Galway, many of these these hiking trails are on people’s doorsteps. Several in Connemara have now been mapped for a local publication as BERNIE NÍ FHLATHARTA learns.

Haulie Dowd used to hate walking – and he still hates walking on roads or footpaths. But in the past three years, after joining a local walking club, he has climbed the highest peak in Morocco, the second highest in Ethiopia and summited Scotland’s Ben Nevis in the snow.

Haulie has discovered that he’s a hill-walker as opposed to a rambler on the flat. He thrives on the sense of achievement gained by scaling heights, overcoming discomfort and enjoying fresh air and exercise, not to mention the mindfulness aspect.

A psychologist by profession, he especially appreciates the value of mindfulness and now speaks from experience and with conviction when he advises others to “get out and walk”.

As chairman of the Moycullen Walking Club, he laments the group’s diminished activities in 2020, the year when the club should have been celebrating its tenth anniversary.

To be fair, the club did launch a bilingual ‘Walking Guide’, embracing the 15 most scenic walks in the Moycullen and Killannin area, at a function in a local pub just before the first lockdown. However, like many other walking clubs in Galway and countrywide, the organisation couldn’t fulfil its programme of walks, which normally take place every second Sunday.

Members did manage to get a few walks in when Covid-19 restrictions were eased last summer and Haulie looks back on those outings with happiness.

“I’ve never smiled as much as I did on reaching the top of Lackavrea, (a 396-metre hill in Maam in the heart of Connemara). There’s a great sense of achievement and especially for someone like me who never walked and hated walking,” he says.

“I only joined the club three years ago and have since joined a few other walking clubs which have opened up other options, such as giving me the opportunity to go hill-walking abroad. I have reached the highest peak in Morocco, the second highest in Ethiopia and spent nine torturous hours walking up Nevis in the snow.

“By joining my local club, I’ve ‘found’ Connemara which is on our doorstep and provides so many fantastic walking trails with great views. I use maps or apps on my phone, when there’s service. I’ve made new friends locally too, through the club, so it’s a good way of socialising,” adds Haulie, whose regular walking companion is Paul Brown, one of the club founders.

Haulie has his sights on climbing in the Himalayas and/or peaks in South America when the Covid-19 virus is under control.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí seek help in locating missing man

Enda Cunningham



Gardaí have sought help in locating a man missing in Galway since the end of December.
34-year-old Luke Davoren was last seen in the University Road area on December 30.

He is described as having fair hair, 6ft in height and having an athletic build. He was last seen wearing a grey hoody, brown leather jacket, blue jeans and brown leather boots. He also had a black back pack in his possession.

Gardaí and Luke’s family are very concerned for his welfare and have urged him to make contact.

Anyone with information, particularly any road users with dash cam footage of the Newcastle/University Road areas between 1am – 2am on December 30, is asked to contact Galway Garda Station on 091 538000.

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Connacht Tribune

Hospitals cope with overcrowding and staff shortages as Covid crisis peaks

Dara Bradley



Confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to skyrocket in Galway, as virus-related frontline healthcare staff shortages persist and now overcrowding emerges as a new threat.

Galway experienced four days of record-breaking positive case notifications in the past week, as hospitalisations grew exponentially and pressure was heaped on the critical care units at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Portiuncula.

Hospital management said it was unsure whether community transmission had peaked locally yet – and they expect hospitals to be under ‘significant pressure’ from Covid admissions well into February.

Nurses have highlighted how overcrowding in the Emergency Department of the county’s two main public hospitals has returned – some 112 patients were stuck on trolleys awaiting admission to UHG and Ballinasloe on five mornings in the past week. Meanwhile, it hasn’t yet been officially confirmed that the new UK variant of Covid is present in Galway, but authorities believe it is.

The latest data shows there has been no let-up in new cases notifications in Galway – 604 confirmed cases were notified for Monday, the highest in Ireland and Galway’s worst ever day by a long shot.

It was a frightening figure but it was not for one day and was part of clearing the backlog of cases over Christmas and New Year, the HSE said.

That pushed Galway’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 to 1033.9 more than double what it was a week ago and eight times what it was a fortnight ago. Some 2,668 new Galway cases were notified in the fortnight to midnight Tuesday.

Read the full story and comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Suffer little children – report shines a light into shameful past

Dave O'Connell



Baby clothing hanging from a tree branch in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home burial ground this week. PHOTO: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Tribune Comment

The final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes shines a light into the darkest recesses of our shameful past; young women and tiny babies neglected by Church and State – fellow, frail human beings whose lives and deaths somehow didn’t matter at all.

These women and their children were punished, hidden out of sight; mistreated at best; physically and sexually abused at worst – and way, way too many were left to die without a shred of dignity in their lives or in their passing.

The Trojan work and dedication of people like Catherine Corless lifted the stone on the shame – but it is only in their shocking stories, as we’ve read and heard this week, that we can get any sense of the depths of this depravity.

Many of the mothers were little more than children themselves, who had their little babies taken from them and given away with even a sliver of consent.

There were no records of their adoption, and no willingness, even decades later, to help those babies to find their birth mothers. Because to do so would have exposed the cruel and heartless manner of their forced adoptions in the first place.

And yet exposing this scandal is only the first step; an apology was the very least they were entitled to. Now we as a nation, and particularly those religious orders who ran the homes, must do everything to redress this wrong.

We must open the files so that they can discover their full life stories, find their living relatives, and be compensated so that at least the rest of their lives are in complete contrast to all they’ve endured until now.

We need to look at how we can give hundreds of innocent babies a proper burial – however belated and insufficient that may be.

Nothing will undo the damage – but now that the depths of this depravity have finally been laid bare, there must be no equivocation, no prevarication; just a commitment to doing whatever it takes to try and right a terrible wrong.

See full coverage of the Commission’s Report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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