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Connacht Tribune

Tragic end for tourist visiting for stag party

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Coroner for Galway West Dr. Ciaran MacLoughlin: sympathised with family over tragedy.

A man who was visiting Galway as part of a stag party died because he went the wrong way after leaving a city pub, Galway Coroner’s Court heard.

Sam Rowlands (30) had arrived in Galway on Friday, June 16, 2017 for a stag weekend, but died after being hit by a taxi at Bushypark on the N59 Moycullen Road in the early hours of June 18.

Coroner for West Galway Dr Ciarán MacLoughlin heard how Mr Rowlands had been staying in the Victoria Hotel and had been socialising in the city with friends, but “disappeared” from the King’s Head pub at 12.15am on Saturday, June 18.

In CCTV footage shown to a jury at an inquiry into his death, Mr Rowlands was seen exiting the High Street pub before walking in the direction of Cross Street. In the footage, Mr Rowlands was seen to be unsteady on his feet.

Cameras at various locations showed Mr Rowlands as he walked down Mill Street, before heading out Presentation Road and across Newcastle.

The last footage of the 30-year-old was captured by cameras at NUI Galway as he continued to walk out of the city through Dangan – in the direction of the location where he would die after being struck by a taxi driven by Imran Khan.

The inquiry heard from James McGrath, who lives in Galway and knew Mr Rowlands through a relation who lived in Wales, that he joined the stag party at around in the King’s Head at 11pm, by which time, they were “fairly drunk”.

Mr McGrath said he did not see Mr Rowlands leaving, adding “I have no idea what time he left”.

Adrian Richardson told how he had been travelling from his home on the Barna Road, Moycullen, into Galway to collect his wife between 12.45 and 1am when he saw a male at Dangan Nurseries who matched the description of Mr Rowlands.

“He stumbled out on to the road and I had to swerve the car to avoid hitting him,” said Mr Richardson. “On the way home, I saw the same man and he was now on the opposite side of the road, just past the Bushypark Road.”

Mr Richardson’s wife called the Gardaí to alert them of his presence.

That same night, Imran Khan was returning to Galway after dropping a fare off in Corcullen.

Mr Khan described how Mr Rowlands appeared to “jump” from the ditch about 800 metres from the Glenlo Abbey Hotel.

Mr Khan said he was in total shock after the impact. He recalled that he was driving at 50 to 55 km per hour in the 100 km per hour speed zone as there was a bend in the road and he was “in no rush”.

He voluntarily surrendered his phone to Gardaí who, on inspection, found the only call made around the time of the collision was to the emergency services at 1.28am.

“I swear to God, he was not on the road,” said Mr Khan, in response to questioning from the Rowlands family’s solicitor, Brendan Donnelly. “He just appeared from the ditch”.

Qualified nurse Colette Cullinan was driving back to Moycullen from Tuam at the time and was first on the scene.

She described how she, with the help of Liam Carroll who also came on the scene, put Mr Rowlands in the recovery position. She said he was still breathing, but she noticed his head felt soft.

She recalled how the taxi driver was “paralysed” with shock and handed his phone to Mr Carroll to speak to emergency services.

Garda Pat Costello attended the scene and in his evidence to the court, described how Mr Rowlands was being treated by paramedics when he arrived – and that Mr Khan had been sick a number of times while in his presence.

Mr Khan was questioned under caution and informed Garda Costello that a male appeared to jump from the left hand side of the road into his path.

A breath test returned negative for the presence of alcohol and the silver Volkswagen Passat taxi he was driving was seized for technical examination.

Garda Ollie White, a road traffic collision forensic specialist, gave evidence that there was no street lighting nor footpaths where the collision occurred.

Garda White said he was confident the vehicle was travelling at no more than 70 or 80 kilometres per hour.

He said the Volkswagen badge from the front of the saloon car was found approximately 10 metres from the point of impact.

There was indentation on the front grill and the windscreen was shattered, which he said would fit the hypothesis of solicitor Brendan Donnelly that Mr Rowlands was hit by the front of the vehicle and thrown over the windscreen – meaning the first impact was with his lower leg.

Mr Rowlands was brought to UHG where he later died from his injuries.

Consultant Pathologist Dr Mary Casey who carried out a post mortem examination found a laceration to his right leg which she concluded was the “probable site” of initial impact – and that Mr Rowland had suffered significant fracturing of the skull.

The jury found, in accordance with the medical evidence, that the cause of death was a fracture at the base of the skull, with subsequent brain-stem death sustained in a road traffic collision.

The Coroner Dr MacLoughlin extended his sincere sympathy to Mr Rowlands’ wife Lowri, his son Joseph, mother and father Margo and Alun, and his brothers Adam and Ben.

“What should have been a weekend of celebration and fun turned out, for the Rowlands family to be a very tragic and unfortunate event,” said Dr MacLoughlin.

Connacht Tribune

Fuel for thought as we try and energise our wheels

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

A good few years back . . . well probably even decades . . . I remember asking quite a knowledgeable motoring correspondent, long gone to his eternal reward, about the pros and cons of staying with petrol or switching to diesel. By the time his reply had finished, nearly 20 minutes had elapsed, and I was avalanched with so much data that I was no wiser at the end of the conversation than I was at the start.

I thought of that a few weeks before Christmas when I happened to tune in to a programme on Channel 4 – Dispatches – which examined the practicalities of owning and driving an electric car across the roads of the United Kingdom.

There is a wish amongst all of us to pursue a more environmentally friendly way of life. At this stage, we all probably know someone who has purchased a fully electric car and certainly many more who have dipped their toes into the waters of the hybrid models.

Anyway, the main theme of the Dispatches programme was that after 10-years of investment by the UK authorities in the infrastructure needed to support electric cars, quite a shocking number of charging points were either out of action or were not working to their full efficiency.

Nearly 10% of the ‘rapid chargers’ sampled across the UK were found not to be working properly, while 30 new ultra-rapid charges were also found to be dysfunctional to varying degrees. Some of the charging points had been out of action for six years and a percentage of those were unrepairable as their technology base was now obsolete.

Apart from their significant extra cost – even if one qualifies for the maximum €5,000 Government grant – the great fear I would have with the electric cars is that I’d find myself marooned in a corner of Kerry or Antrim, out of ‘juice’, and unable to access a charging point.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Farm buildings can be used as business hubs in rural areas

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Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind)

RURAL farm buildings should be utilised for small business enterprises which would supplement the income of landowners as well as creating some local employment in the process.

This was the view of the vast majority of Galway councillors who passed a motion that buildings directly relating to farming be considered for other purposes that would be financially advantageous to the owners.

The matter came up for discussion at a meeting of the Galway County Development Plan when it was suggested that the farming community needed to be allowed develop small business opportunities.

A motion from Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind) – deviating slightly from Galway County Council policy – proposed that they be allowed carry out businesses such as the servicing and repair of machinery, land reclamation, drainage works, and agricultural contracting was carried.

The motion added that this be allowed where it is financially advantageous to locate in a given area and where it would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

The Williamstown councillor said that it could result in hundreds of small business enterprises being developed out of farm buildings.

“At the moment they cannot get planning permission for such enterprises given that they are located in a rural area,” he argued.

He was supported by Cllr. Pete Roche (FG) who went further by saying that even the establishment of pet farms or animal farms that could be opened up to the public were also options that could be considered.

“There are farm families at the moment who cannot earn a decent living out of agriculture alone and would relish the opportunity to diversify,” he added.

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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