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Telling his story helps survivor Mike rebuild life

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Michael Gibbons with niece Ciara and nephew Oisín. All royalties from his book will go towards Ciara medical bills. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – Judy Murphy meets Mike Gibbons who nine years ago was in a helicopter crash that left his best friends dead
On a sunny July morning nine years ago, Mike Gibbons and his friends, Mark Reilly and Damien Bergin, were on top of the world as they embarked on a flight to Galway City from Waterford.
The three, with Castleblakeney man Damien at the controls, had flown to the Munster city by helicopter the previous day to see the launch of the world-renowned Tall Ships Race. They had hoped to view the ships from the air that Saturday morning, but poor visibility locally meant they couldn’t. So they set off for home, where Mark’s three children were waiting for him to join them to celebrate his 49th birthday.
Damien had checked the weather at Galway Airport, and it was good. A few hours later, Mark and Damien were dead, and Mike was critically injured, after the helicopter flew into cloud at Derrybrien, in the Sliabh Aughty Mountains. Damien attempted to fly through the dense mist – as he had been taught during training – but the single-engine helicopter was flying over a giant wind farm with 71 turbines, which were spaced about 225 metres apart. Disaster struck when the helicopter clipped one of the 49-metre-high windmills and crashed from the sky into dense forest.
Damien, who survived for several hours after the crash, had the presence of mind to call for help, although the site made it almost impossible for emergency services to reach them. The three were airlifted to UHG, by which time Mark – who had been in the rear seat – was dead.
Damien died shortly afterwards. That Mike emerged from the horrific crash still alive, although badly injured, was extraordinary and for years he didn’t discuss what had happened, not wanting to be known as “the man who survived the helicopter crash”.
However, another tumultuous event in his family led him to change his mind.
Six years ago Mike’s niece Ciara Brown was born, but this joyful occasion was tempered by the fact that her lower limbs had not developed while she was in the womb. For this beautiful, lively child to be able to walk properly, she needed specialised prosthetic limbs. These legs, which have to be changed as she grows, are not available in Ireland, and require Ciara to travel to Florida twice a year.
She is the apple of Mike’s eye and he decided to pen his story of the crash and its aftermath, to help raise funds for her treatment. The result is Survivor, a raw, honest book that’s not just about the helicopter crash, and that’s as life-affirming as it is sad.
In it, Mike documents his childhood in Galway’s Westside, including a period in the now demolished Rahoon flats – and his schooldays in the Bish (St Joseph’s College, Nun’s Island) where his entrepreneurial nature first came to the fore. He had a lucrative sideline running school discos with a fellow student. Mike and his two sisters, Karen and Norrie were reared by their mother, Carmel, after her marriage broke up.
Carmel is an immensely strong woman, and, with his sisters, played a vital role in his recovery from the crash, he says. Women are central to his story and it’s obvious that he and Damien enjoyed a good social life in Galway and further afield, even when money was tight.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Living with the ignominy of anonymity on social media

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Technically, I am on Facebook and Twitter, but I can never seem to quite motivate myself to tell all my virtual friends that my dog has overeaten today; that the cat has disappeared again without a word of explanation; or that the neighbour down the road is driving out in a brand-new car.

At times, I imagine that I’m suffering from some type of serious personality disorder because of my failure to get excited about sharing the most boring details of my daily chores with a cohort of people, some of whose names I am familiar with, while others could have no possible connection to my existence on this planet.

Mind you, I bear no animosity towards those people who want to befriend me via the world of fibre optics and instant communication from any part of the globe, but neither do I harbour any great desire to start up conversations about the banalities of life.

It really is bad enough to have to endure and survive those tribulations every day without having to trouble my newly-acquired set of friends – that I don’t know – with the details of how good or bad my day has been.

I’m sure that there are super ‘shrinks’ out there who will make a case for the virtue of being able to share your daily woes and wonders with those in the world of cyber space, but a thousand Facebook communications (not that I’ll ever make them) just can never compensate me for a face-to-face interaction with an old friend or even a regular verbal sparring partner in the local watering hole, who can jibe me about some alleged minor transgression on my part over recent times.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Huge study gives thumbs up to dairy in the diet

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Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Every time I go to a café, I am amazed by the offering now available for people who no longer want to add milk to their brew. Even in the tiniest of coffee kiosks, they stock oat, soy or almond milk as an alternative to cow’s milk, usually for a surcharge of around 50c, reflecting the high cost of these alternatives.

The big food companies have lately got in on the act, offering non-dairy yogurts in the convenient small pots in most supermarkets. Customers no longer have to head to the health store for these premium, specialist products.

The trend to non-dairy and vegan diets – which means no animal products at all – has certainly become mainstream among Generation Z and Millennials.

But is it good for your health?

A comprehensive new study originating in Sweden would suggest otherwise – at least when it comes to the consumption of dairy.

The international team of scientists studied the dairy fat consumption of 4,150 adults aged 60 living in Sweden which has the world’s highest levels of dairy production and consumption.

They measured blood levels of a particular fatty acid that is mostly found in dairy foods rather than relying on people recording the amounts and types of dairy foods eaten, which may be unreliable given that dairy is commonly used in a variety of foods.

Experts then followed this group for an average of 16 years to observe how many died, had heart attacks, strokes and other conditions indicating cardiovascular disease (CVD). After statistically adjusting for other known CVD risk factors such as age, income, lifestyle, dietary habits, they concluded that those with higher intakes of dairy fat had a lower risk of CVD compared to those with low intakes.

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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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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At the official opening of the new tile factory in Portumna on January 13, 1967.

1921

Tenants’ desperation

That the land question is far from settled in certain areas is obvious to those who have been reading the series of articles contributed to these columns by a correspondent in South Galway. The slowness of the Congested Districts Board has been proverbial.

Our correspondent suggests that failure to effect local settlements within a reasonable time, coupled with the inefficiency he charges, have brought about a condition of discontent which may result in a violent explosion at any moment.

No one could contemplate with equanimity such an outburst, for it might have an effect far beyond that intended and might endanger national peace at a period when its preservation is of supreme moment to the Irish people.

But it would seem indisputable that the Congested Districts Board is taking risks that no public body is entitled to take; and the completion of the division of the estates involved should be pushed forward in the public interest without further unnecessary delay.

The tenants on the Ardilaun estate at Cong have already taken the matter into their own hands. At a meeting attended by congests, some of whom walked fifteen miles to be present, it was declared that all confidence had been lost in the Congested Districts Board “which has long since practically ceased to function on this estate” and the tenants requested Dáil Éireann to take over the administration.

The facts in regard to the Ardilaun property are sufficiently remarkable to afford in themselves a damnatory criticism of the Board’s methods. It contains seven hundred householders, whose average valuation is from 15s. to £3. Congestion and poverty is abound; there is little untenanted land to relieve either.

Migration of bodies of tenants is the only real and permanent remedy. But nine years after the late Lord Ardilaun expressed his desire to sell, the Congested Districts Board has not, it would appear, put forward any real effort to relieve a distressing situation.

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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