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Connacht Tribune

Teachers’ tales of Everest climb will ensure students’ attention

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Telling tall tales in the staff room doesn’t usually involve memories of scaling Mount Everest – but two Gort teachers will have plenty of adventures to recount as they return to earth after they scaled the world’s highest summit.

It all began over the Breakfast Club at Gort Community School when PE teacher Aoife Lynskey Keane convinced her fellow fitness fanatic, school SNA Gina Casey, that the only way was up.

BY SIMON FLATLEY

The seed was sown after adventurer Peter O’Connell from Killererin – who also happened to be best friends with Aoife’s brother in law – had given a talk to the school about his Everest summit success from 2013.

Both Gina, from Gort, and Aoife, from Ardrahan, had previously run marathons together, although they knew this would be a different kettle of fish.

To put it in perspective, Ireland’s highest mountain is Carrauntoohil and stands at 1,038m while Base Camp on Everest is over five times that, at 5,364m.

Still, they decided to give it their all, and in the months leading up to the trek, the two south Galway women left no stone unturned in preparation.

Doc Fitness Gym in Kilcolgan became a regular haunt to prepare them, with special emphasis on strength and conditioning.

Then, at the end of March, the two made their way to Katmandu – armed with a few unusual items for Everest adventurers.

Keen camogie player Aoife brought a hurley or two and a few sliotars with her – and about half way to their destination, they passed a town called Namche Bazaar, with some shops for equipment and essentials for climbers, some sherpas with their yaks and what do you know, an Irish Bar!

They went in for a look, got chatting to Evan and donated a hurl all the way from Galway to presumably take pride of place amongst the various county jerseys on the walls.

Aoife Lynskey Keane gets ready to strike from Everest.

On reaching the summit, despite the ordeal, they got a new lease of life and delight in what they had done – but they hadn’t much time to hang around as the weather had deteriorated, with snow storms and freezing cold.

Some special mass cards were delicately placed in respectful spot, with the names of their great friend, former Gort Community Centre Manager Jamesie Lee, Aoife’s mam Mary, Maggie Hynes, Pat Casey, Pateen Fahy and Vincy Lynskey, to name a few.

Of course, Aoife hadn’t brought the hurls and sliotar for nothing – so in her longest ever puck out, she blasted the sliotar through the rarified air, to the delight and wonder of some onlookers.

She also donated to the mountain, a special hurl made by the late Ardrahan hurley maker Paddy O’Dea with the name of her late uncle Vincy Lynskey of Ardrahan on it.

After many photos and with the sounds of a nearby avalanche and a snow storm, they spent just twenty minutes there, and decided to descend the now slippery route in minus 30 degrees of cold.

All through the descent, thoughts rushed through their heads, about the beauty, kindness and humanity of where they were, their achievement and of course getting home safely to their family and community.

The experience for both Gina and Aoife will make them stronger but also reinforce their focus on what’s truly important in life such as love and family.

Aoife and Gina with Mount Everest in the background.

“The thoughts of my husband Alan Keane and children Caoife and Iarla along with my dad and all my family kept me going on an incredible difficult emotional and physical journey and that no matter how high you climb or far you run grief stays with you,” admits Aoife. “Family and your health is the most important thing in the world.”

Now back on terra firma, their thoughts turned to the highlights of a trip that will live with them forever.

The proud Gort teachers showing why their school is Ireland’s fittest.

The first was the obvious success of reaching where they intended – but the other was the joy they saw on the kids’ faces, in such a poor region, when they gave them colouring pencils and a colouring book.

Students and staff in Gort Community School had raised some money for this and had such fun and delight to see a video the two trekkers had recorded of school kids there, giving a Kathmandu chorus of thanks and greeting to the South Galway school.

Connacht Tribune

Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars

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Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.

That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.

Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.

Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.

Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.

“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.

“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.

Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year.  Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.

Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.

Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.

“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.

Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team

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Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78

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Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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