Mayo men have a history of making their name wherever they settle but one man took Galway into his heart and spent his whole adult life trying to make it a better place.
Indeed John Bourke, who died at his home in Dalysfort Road, Salthill, after a short illness, managed to achieve many ‘firsts’ in his quest to improve his adopted city.
From the get go when he returned to Ireland from New York with his wife Peggy, he went about this in his own low key manner, didn’t try to patronise and always wanted to do so under the radar.
That quiet trait of his and his devotion to being a family man first and foremost is probably the reason he shunned being in the public eye, preferring to work under the radar.
But his contribution to both the economic, commercial and cultural life of the city, not to mention his contributions to both health and education makes him a special person.
Claremorris native John Bourke certainly didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth and he expected to work hard when he started in the insurance business which brought him to Limerick, to Dublin and Galway, where he met his future wife, Peggy, in Seapoint in Salthill.
In the 60s they emigrated to New York where they worked in the Financial District and Wall Street where two insurance companies he founded were floated on the Nasdaq exchange. John and Peggy got married in St Patrick’s Cathedral there but after a decade decided to rear their family in their beloved Galway.
His company, Pan Atlantic Group — now Celtic International Insurance based in Knocknacarra — was the first of its kind to be set up in the city and indeed the first outside of Dublin. The firm in its own purpose built building in Salthill, eventually had offices in Dublin, New York and London.
It was the first company to offer insurance over the phone (Autoline), the first to offer Roadside Breakdown Assistance (Ireland Assist) and nearly twenty years later, open Glenlo Abbey in Bushypark, the first five star hotel in Galway. Celtic ran the first ever European PGA event, west of the Shannon in 1984, the Celtic Classic which was won by Gordon Brand Jnr.
His friend and former neighbour, John Mulholland remembers him as a very generous man who on hearing of Christy O’Connor Jr’s lack of sponsor at a critical stage of his golfing career, went to sponsor him for the next eight years until Christy found an international backer.
John believes without John Bourke’s help then, Christy’s career may have taken a different turn. Later it was Christy who designed the golf course at Glenlo.
“And he (John Bourke) backed Christy so genuinely and generously. He was a gentleman but also a businessman to his core,” says John remembering a man whose company he enjoyed on many’s the occasion.
In fact John Bourke loved a good party, especially when he was surrounded by his family, employees and close circle of friends, people he respected and enjoyed.
Over the years, his and his company’s achievements were celebrated with an effusive joy but he also had a knack at turning negatives around, thanks to his great sense of humour and his ability to laugh at his own mistakes.
His right hand man for years and General Manager at Celtic International, Larry Joyce, remembered not only the boss but the man and his friend in his eulogy at the funeral in Salthill.
As well as covering John Bourke’s life, he concluded by thanking the Mayo man for his friendship, his mentoring, guidance and generosity over the years.
Larry remembers it as a unique place to work with a family atmosphere steered by John’s energy and enthusiasm.
John Bourke was also the man responsible for introducing cruise liners to Galway Bay through his own personal contacts in Florida, which he linked up to the Galway Harbour Company — though not many people ever knew that. Seeing the first cruise ship in the Bay brought a smile to his face for sure as he was always convinced of their financial benefits to the area.
His other firsts include him being the first NUI Galway Foundation’s chairman as his interest in education was great believing a university needed to be part of its local community.
He was also the first to contribute to the Clinical Science Institute in Galway as its co-chairperson, which went on to establish the National Breast Cancer Research Institute.
The Bourkes loved the arts and were more than happy to sponsor the vist of Spanish group, El Comediants for the Arts Festival in 1985 and four years later sponsored Druid Theatre’s “A Whistle in the Dark” in London’s Royal Court Theatre.
He served as President of the Insurance Institute of Galway, President of Galway Golf Club and was also a past chair of the Galway Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation and on its National Council.
He threw himself into developing Glenlo Abbey treating it as a personal project and where he and Peggy displayed their good tastes in décor and style to the public.
He was devastated when his family lost the hotel some years ago and spent recent years working on getting it back, something that may still happen and which indicate that the man never really retired, despite being in his early 80s.
The man with the ‘can do’ attitude bore his short illness bravely and died surrounded by his beloved wife and family at home.
He is survived by his wife Peggy, his children, John Henry, Geraldine and Brian as well as his brother Tom, sister Pauline, son-in-law Dominic and daughter-in-law Sara and his adored grandchildren Ann-Marie, Seán, Isabel, Grace, Ava and Caitríona.
John Bourke might be remembered for his achievements in his adopted Galway but his biggest pride was his family, who will never forget him.
Man on assault charges after allegedly coughing at Tesco workers
A 33-year-old man appeared in custody before Galway District Court this morning on assault charges after allegedly coughing in the direction of two Tesco workers yesterday.
Konrad Prokopczyk, a Polish national who resides with his sister at 70 Esker Hills, Ballinasloe, was arrested by Garda David Sheffield at 5pm on Sunday afternoon at Tesco in Ballinasloe, and brought to the local Garda Station where he was later charged with assaulting both employees, with breaching the peace and with giving a false and misleading name and address.
Garda Sheffield said the accused replied “I didn’t do it” when charged with giving a false name and address and made no reply to the other charges.
Garda Sheffield objected to a possible bail application under the “O’Callaghan rules”, citing the seriousness of the alleged offences and the possibility he may reoffend.
“He showed no remorse and thought the offences funny and was laughing at the two injured parties who are employees at Tesco,” Garda Sheffield told Judge Marie Keane.
Defence solicitor, Martina Moran, who was appointed to represent Prokopczyk under the free legal aid scheme, applied for bail.
She said her client had no previous convictions or outstanding warrants and would abide by any bail conditions set by the court.
Ms Moran said her client was a Polish national who had been in the country for two years and had recently been laid off from his job.
Sergeant Aoife Curley, prosecuting, again objected to bail, saying: “He didn’t seem to be respectful to the Government guidelines regarding Covid-19 and showed no respect for the employees.
“The allegations are he coughed in the direction of both employees and showed no remorse afterwards. There is a fear this type of behaviour might happen again,” she said.
Ms Moran said her client was very aware now of the seriousness of the current situation and was notified of the consequences.
Judge Keane said it was with the greatest of reluctance that she would grant Prokopczyk bail.
“It’s utterly despicable,” she added before remanding the accused on bail to appear before Ballinasloe District Court next Thursday, April 2.
Bail was granted on condition he continue to reside at his address, observe a nightly curfew between 8pm and 8am, comply with Covid-19 Government guidelines, provide a mobile phone number to Gardai to be answered at all times, and not enter any retail outlet of any description during the current emergency.
Government publishes list of ‘essential service providers’
The Government has this evening published the list of essential service providers who are permitted to travel to and from work during the lockdown until April 12.
The following is the guidance issued:
What employers should do
- refer to this guidance to decide whether your organisation is providing an essential service; it is not necessary to seek official authorisation
- if you are providing an essential service, you should identify those employees (including sub-contractors etc) who are essential to the provision of that service and notify them (this can be done by category of employee or by individual; it could include all employees of the organisation)
- if you are providing an essential service, latest public health guidance should be followed at all times
What employees should do
- if your employer notifies you that you are an essential employee, or that you belong to a category of essential employees, you are permitted to travel to and from work
- when travelling to and from work, you should at all times bring with you either a work identification or a letter from your employer indicating that you are an essential employee, as well as one other form of identification
- If you are self-employed, a farmer or agricultural worker, or a member of the clergy, you should carry one form of identification with you at all times.
If you are a volunteer who is working as part of the national community response, you are permitted to travel for that purpose, eg if you are delivering food, supplies or medicine to a person who is cocooned or vulnerable. The Local Government emergency response teams will co-ordinate that response at local level.
Business Continuity and Resilience
All organisations who provide essential services should have business continuity and resilience plans in place. This should take account of the possibility that key workers or key facilities may be impacted by COVID-19.
Non Essential Services
If you are not engaged in the provision of essential services, then you are not permitted to travel to and from work until April 12th 2020.
There will be a grace period until 6pm on Monday March 30th for people who need to make necessary arrangements to wind down their activities in an orderly way. This should however be done in a way that minimises travel and personal interaction as much as possible.
In exceptional circumstances, it is accepted that some extra time will be needed for a wind down of activity, or necessary for a site to continue to operate at a reduced level of activity eg in complex manufacturing processes or very large construction projects.
This Guidance will be kept under ongoing review, and will be updated as required.
Services provided in the following areas are considered to be essential:
Agriculture & Fishing
- farm labourers
- farm relief service workers,
- others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services), and workers involved in fishing
- the manufacture of food and beverage products
- the manufacture of prepared animal feeds
- the manufacture of work-wear apparel or footwear
- the manufacture of pulp, paper and paperboard and wood;
- the printing and reproduction of newspapers and other media services
- the manufacturing of coke and refined petroleum products
- the manufacturing of alumina; chemicals and chemical products
- the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations
- the manufacture of products necessary for the supply chain of essential services; computer, electronic and optical products including semi-conductors; electrical equipment, machinery and other equipment (including agricultural and forestry machinery); medical devices; and medical and dental equipment and supplies.
Repair and installation of Machinery and Equipment
- the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment and industrial machinery and equipment for essential services
Electricity, Gas & Water
- electric power generation, transmission and distribution
- extraction and distribution of gas;
- water collection, treatment and supply
- sewerage; waste collection, remediation activities and other waste management treatment and disposal activities
- essential health and related projects relevant to the COVID-19 crisis, and supplies necessary for such projects;
- repair/construction of critical road and utility infrastructure
- delivery of emergency services to businesses and homes on an emergency call-out basis in areas such as electrical, plumbing, glazing and roofing.
Wholesale and Retail Trade
- retail services in accordance with the separate “Updated Essential Retail Outlets ” list;
- wholesale and distribution services necessary for the sale of food, beverages, fuel, medicines, medical products and devices and essential household products; takeaways and food delivery services
Transport Storage and Communication
- land transport (e.g. bus, rail and taxi services)
- road, rail, sea and air freight
- sea and air passenger services; ports and airports
- warehousing and support activities for transportation including cargo-handling; postal and courier activities; network control and critical maintenance (including roads); and safety related functions
Accommodation and Food Services
- hotels or similar providing essential accommodation (including homeless, direct provision and related services)
- food and beverage service activities in accordance with the separate the essential retail outlets listlist or for supply to a business engaged in an essential service
Information and Communications
- the publishing of newspapers, journals and periodicals as well as video, television programme production, sound recording, radio and television broadcasting; wired and satellite and telecommunications activities; internet and cloud providers; data centres and related services.
Financial and legal activities
- banking and financial services (including banks, credit unions and post offices)
- accountancy, legal and insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people
Professional, Scientific and Technical activities
- engineering, technical testing activities and analysis
- scientific research and development activities
- regulation, inspection and certification services necessary to support essential services
Rental and Leasing Activities
- rental and lease of cars
- light motor vehicles and trucks necessary to support the provision of essential services.
Administrative and Support Services
Where necessary to support other essential services:
- employment placement and human resources associated with the recruitment and deployment of workers
- security activities to assist in the delivery of essential services and the securing of premises closed to the public
- cleaning of buildings and industrial cleaning activities; business support activities which are necessary to support essential services included on this list; payroll and payment services necessary for the operation of businesses; data processing, hosting and related activities.
Public Administration and Defence
Public administration activities necessary to support essential services and provision of social protection benefits (including Civil Service and Local Government);
- An Garda Siochana, Garda Staff and the Garda Reserve
- public order, safety, fire service and ambulance activities
- the Defence Forces;
- emergency call answering service to ensure administration of justice;
- Prison services and Child Detention services
- regulatory processes and certification required to ensure supply chains, food, medicine and general process safety
- operation of botanical gardens, parks, forests and nature reserves
- funeral services
- religious personnel
- office-holders and public representatives
Human health and social work activities
- hospital services
- paramedical and essential therapy activities
- public health activities (including all those deployed to contract tracing and COVID-19 testing services)
- laboratory services
- drug treatment and addiction services
- hospice services
- pharmacy services
- primary care, general and specialist medical practice activities provided by public and private providers
- emergency dental practice activities
- blood donation service
- residential care activities (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse, elderly and persons with disabilities, children’s residential services)
- homecare home help and other community services
- social work and social care activities (including disability services, mental health, child protection and welfare, domestic, sexual and gender based violence, homeless services including outreach)
- ambulance/pre-hospital emergency care services
- minor injury units
- maternity services
- health, social work, environmental, food safety regulatory activities
- community and voluntary workers, working in a publicly commissioned service, not otherwise included on the list, deployed to assist in the delivery of essential services *volunteer services operating under the local authority emergency management framework in accordance with public health guidance
Connemara native goes online for revision courses and online weekly classes
Julie Kilmartin, from the Heart of the Gaeltacht in Connemara has switched all of their Easter Revision Courses to online access commencing early April 2020. Julie watched the crisis unfold in Italy and realized that the closure of Irish schools was only a matter of time. The week prior to the closure, Julie contacted her team of excellent teachers and requested that they prepare to record the courses in advance. Incredibly, the majority of teachers responded and agreed.
Upon the announcement of school closures, with the uncertainty of Easter and schools still been closed, Julie and her team made the decision to switch all courses online. Time was critical if these courses could be rolled out, online for early April.
According to Julie Kilmartin- this is simply a mammoth task. We have so many courses on offer and to record professionally in a very limited period is going to be incredibly demanding. However, we are delighted with our progress and we are on target. I have to pay tribute to our Amazing Team of Teachers and Wendigo Medial from Limerick. We are currently recording 10 hours per day, 7 days a week. Our college in Limerick has turned into a Mini Hollywood Set!
Kilmartin Educational Services will offer a Comprehensive Revision Course Package for both Junior and Leaving Certificate students. Students will have full access to all recorded courses. These courses are ideal in this current COVID-19 crisis where students must stay at home. Now students can access Revision of Vital Exam Topics at the click of a button with the ability to Revise – Rewind- from the comfort of their home with the back up of revision notes for every course.
Julie Kilmartin is responding to the needs of Junior and Leaving Cert. students. Together in Separation where we are physically distanced and digitally connected. Julie is bringing her Amazing team of students to the homes of Irish students in April 2020.
Students can access these Packages for only €300- full access to everything recorded within Revision Course Package. Full details available at: https://www.kes.ie/easter-2020
Kilmartin Educational Services also are rolling our weekly LIVE and Pre recorded tuition classes for students in a variety of key subjects. Full details: https://www.kes.ie/onlinegrinds