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Connacht Tribune

Tourism visionary who left a lasting legacy

Judy Murphy

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Lifestyle: The Doonmore Hotel on Inishbofin turns 50 this weekend. Margaret Murray founded the family business and was its driving force for decades. Her son Andrew tells JUDY MURPHY how Margaret’s foresight and work ethic ensured its success.

As Margaret Murray stood in front of her family home on Inishbofin Island in 1968 and watched the roof being demolished, the mother-of-six was overwhelmed.  Knocking in the roof of her husband Paddy’s ancestral home had been her decision. The dream was to build a hotel. But at that moment, Margaret truly realised the enormity of the challenge ahead.

Inishbofin was an offshore island with no electricity or mod-cons and with a limited boat service. What if she had been wrong?

Some years previously, Margaret and Paddy had added on four bedrooms to their house and operated a successful B&B, but maybe this was a leap too far. As doubts filled her mind, a visiting priest from Clifden who was walking past, stopped to chat to Margaret. He reassured her that letting go of the past was vital in order to create something new. His words gave her courage.

The priest was right. The Doonmore Hotel opened in early June 1969 and this weekend, generations of the extended Murray and Mansfield families will gather to mark the golden anniversary of the thriving family business.

Margaret (née Mansfield) and Paddy Murray have both passed on, but their seven children (the youngest was born after the Doonmore opened), with their children and grandchildren will celebrate the couple’s achievement and legacy. The Doonmore, now under the management of Margaret and Paddy’s son, Andrew, and his partner, Donna, remains a family operation.

Seated on a bench across from the Doonmore, on a glorious Summer’s day, Andrew, a former primary school principal, recalls his mother’s vision and work ethic. Given his own passion and commitment, it’s clear that on his watch, the Doonmore – with its magnificent views over the ancient monastic settlement of High Island – will continue to thrive.

Andrew’s great-grandfather, Patrick Murray, built the original house where the hotel now stands, in the early 20th century.  Like several other locals, Patrick had a shop, explains Andrew, and judging by his receipt books, he was quite an entrepreneur.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this feature, see this week’s Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Limited go-ahead for marts

Francis Farragher

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Marts: Individual sales to be allowed.

MART managers and staff across the county are busy this week preparing operating protocols for approval by the Dept. of Agriculture that will allow for the limited sale of livestock during the current COVID-19 emergency.

On Tuesday, the Dept. of Agriculture confirmed that they would be allowing marts to handle livestock sales in a limited way – marts will liaise with buyers and sellers; arrange for the weighing of the animals; and process payments.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said that the Dept. had issued guidance to marts for ‘a very limited range of essential services’ that would not require people to assemble: the transactions would include calf sales, the weighing of livestock, and an online or brokerage service.

Ray Doyle of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) this week thanked the Government for their announcement, adding that ‘it was reasonable’ for a form of trading to continue to alleviate the current economic burden on farmers.

He pointed out that only mart staff would handle the animals; the buyer and seller would not have contact with each other; each could observe the weighing data; the buyer could view the animals from a distance; the sale would be completed electronically; no visitors or members of the public would be admitted; full sanitisation protocols would be observed; with the sale to be completed electronically.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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Self-isolation success staves off Covid-19 surge – for now

Dara Bradley

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Anaesthetic Registrar Dr Robbie Sparks with Clinical Facilitator Claire Lavelle simulating an intubation of a patient with COVID-19 in the ICU at UHG. (Photo supplied by UHG because of visitor restrictions)

The predicted surge in Covid19-related admissions to Galway’s hospitals has been delayed – for now – giving much-needed breathing space to ramp-up preparations and increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity and beds for when it does hit.

But hospital management remains concerned in particular with the ‘significant’ number of staff in the West who have been taken off the frontline because they are ill from coronavirus, or self-isolating as a precaution after coming in close contact with an infected person.

And as the latest figures show 86 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Galway – seven times the figure from a fortnight ago – the HSE has conceded that local testing for the virus was suspended Sunday due to a shortage of testing kits. Limited testing resumed on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, although hospital chiefs in the West insist they have sufficient levels of personal protective equipment (PPE), nursing homes across Galway are facing a shortage of basic equipment such as masks, and many have appealed to the public for donations.

Chief Clinical Director Saolta Group, and consultant cardiologist, Dr Pat Nash, said UHG, the main Covid-19 hospital in the West, has experienced increased activity but ‘not a huge surge in admissions’.

“The hospital still has significant capacity available both on wards and ICU,” he said.

But Dr Nash stressed there was no room for complacency and the public needed to continue to observe social distancing, stay at home and practice hand hygiene.

 

See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website www.connachttribune.ie. The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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Loan sharks prey on families hit by pandemic

Denise McNamara

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Moneylenders have been targeting working class areas in Galway where hundreds of people have lost their jobs in the lockdown, encouraging them to take out loans with exorbitant interest rates.

Deputy for Galway East Sean Canny said he had received several reports of estates in the city where leaflets had been distributed recently by legitimate loan sharks.

“These people are licensed so they are not doing anything illegal but I do think it’s immoral in these times and my advice is to ignore money lenders,” he stressed.

“We have credit unions where people can go to for advice and for loans and we have MABS [Money Advice and Budgeting Service] which can provide advice that maybe they don’t need more money but may need to manage their budget better.

“People don’t make the best decisions when they’re stressed but I would really urge them not to go down this road because they can charge interest rates of 187% which is really fleecing people.”

Paul Bailey, Head of Communications at the Irish League of Credit Unions, said they have also been getting reports of leaflets being dropped by moneylenders in working class areas.

 

See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website www.connachttribune.ie. The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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