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Vodka and eggs provide Cong quarry with recipe for success!

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A limestone quarry in Cong is proving an Absolut goldmine, with the Swedish vodka company snapping up its resources for their crystal clear bottles.

Coinciding with the collapse in the construction sector, McGrath’s Quarries proved a glass act by expanding to supply calcium carbonate for use in glass manufacturing. And their range of lime and feed-grade calcium powders and grits is also being snapped up by farm suppliers across the country and Britain – as well as increasing the quality and strength of eggs, it’s used for the likes of beef and dairy cattle.

Calcium is one of the main minerals needed by animals to grow, develop and produce. Around 3,000 tons of high-purity limestone and calcium leave Galway Docks each month for Scotland and Sweden.

The carbonate – which is up to 99% pure and believed to be the highest quality in the country – is used in glass manufacturing, and one of McGrath’s biggest customers produces bottles for the likes of Absolut, Smirnoff and Glenfiddich.

As well as getting into the spirit of the glass market, the ‘Congcal’ products are also used in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, paper, paint as well as in the steel, car, oil and numerous other industries.

Linda McGrath told the Connacht Tribune: “Following various tests carried out on the quality of the limestone in our quarry, it was found to have a high calcium content containing little or no impurities or heavy metals.

“So in 2007, we further expanded into a new field producing high quality calcium carbonate in various grades suitable for animal feeds and glass production.

“We supply to the glass manufacturing industry; sales are well up, and we also supply products to the farming sector all over the country, such as a lime sprinkle for under dairy cows which removes moisture and lessens chance of infection. Our products are also sold indirectly because we supply feed companies.

“It’s top-quality limestone here, there are few heavy metals which is very important, because they would affect the quality of the glass and its colour,” said Ms McGrath.

She added that the company – which employs around 50 people – is constantly looking out for new markets and industries.

They continue to supply the likes of concrete, blocks, tarmac and gravel through the business which has been built-up over 50 years.

The quarry’s expansion is also great news for Galway docks, which is the best performing port in the country so far this year, according to new figures which show cargo traffic is up by 12%.

For full story see this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Help at hand for hand-pressed families this Christmas

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SVP Galway area President Séamus McManus.

Galway people struggling to cover the cost of Christmas have been urged to seek help from the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

The SVP Galway area’s network of 27 conferences is experiencing a surge in requests for help with food, energy and heating bills as the cost-of-living soars – but Galway area President Séamus McManus insisted help was at hand.

“There is hope out there, and there is help available for people in trouble. We might not be able to do everything but we can help, especially coming up to Christmas.

“Imagine a Christmas that is cold and hungry? That would be no Christmas at all, so we have help. We want people to at least enjoy those few days of Christmas,” Mr McManus said.

SVP said it was “deeply concerned” by new Central Statistics Office data which showed a sharp rise in households going without essentials such as nutritious food, adequate heating and clothing; up by 184,000 to 875,000 people nationally compared with 2021.

SVP nationally is getting an average of 800 calls per day, which is up about 20% on last year. This is mirrored in Galway city and county, too, Mr McManus said.

“We’ve had some heart-breaking requests where the main breadwinner had a serious diagnosis and it meant their whole life has been thrown into turmoil; they can’t pay rent, they can’t pay ordinary family living expenses.

“We’ve also had students with mental health issues who have had to pull out of college and lose their SUSI grants and they’re left high and dry. We’ve had people with relationship breakdown, where maintenance wouldn’t be forthcoming and they’re left in a precarious position,” he added.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Professor on taking the reins as country’s top doc

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Chief Medical Officer, Breda Smyth.

Three weeks after Professor Breda Smyth was appointed Ireland’s interim Chief Medical Officer (CMO), the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

It proved a baptism of fire for Tony Holohan’s successor, who already had the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in her in-tray.

But the Mayo native, who lives in Galway, took it all in her stride.

“It’s a significant responsibility. I am taking it one step at a time,” said the country’s first female CMO.

And in fairness, it’s not like she’s wet round the ears when it comes to strategising for infectious diseases.

Professor Smyth may be best known outside of medical circles in Galway for her traditional Irish musical talents, but she was also the public face of the Covid-19 pandemic as HSE West Director of Public Health.

Through that HSE role, which she held for 13 years, she became a member of NPHET (the National Public Health Emergency Team) that advised Government on how to steer the country through the pandemic; as well as being a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Rapid Testing, and a founding member of the Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group.

That experience stood to her since becoming interim CMO in July, which progressed to a permanent position in October.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Former Minister slams ‘rotten and corrupt’ IFI

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Senator Sean Kyne.

By Dara Bradley

A Galway Senator has slammed Inland Fisheries Ireland as ‘rotten and corrupt’ – and Fine Gael’s Seán Kyne has threatened to use parliamentary privilege to highlight what he labelled as ‘issues of corruption’ within IFI.

Senator Kyne is a former Minister of State with responsibility for natural resources, which encompassed IFI which itself is responsible for the protection of waters, including Lough Corrib. Speaking in the Seanad last Thursday, he referenced a review that was commissioned by the Minister for the Environment, Climate Action and Communications, Eamon Ryan, into the functioning of the board of IFI.

A report by senior counsel Conleth Bradley concluded last July and was sent to the Department and to IFI before being published on November 7.

Senator Kyne said he has read the report, which used legalese to conclude: “There is not a basis, from the alleged disclosures and the information and documentation which have been reviewed, for the Minister to be satisfied that the functions of IFI are not being performed in an effective manner such as to give effect to the removal of all members of IFI from office.”

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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