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Connacht Tribune

Western rail revitalization dependent on airport access plan

Declan Tierney



A case could be made for the retention of the old Western Rail Corridor if the Government gave a commitment to providing access to both Knock and Shannon airports.

This is the view of a highly regarded senior engineer who has drawn up a plan for greenway routes in County Galway which he believes would provide a huge economic boost for rural areas.

But in his submission, he has ruled out the possibility of the Tuam to Athenry railway track being transformed into a greenway on the basis that it still had potential for passenger traffic if used correctly.

Senior engineer Martin Lavelle, formerly with Galway County Council, believes that the Western Rail Corridor should be maintained as a strategic route that would not along serve the two airports but also third level colleges in the city as well as the new town of Ardaun, which will have between 20,000 and 30,000 residents.

There is a campaign to transform the Tuam to Athenry section of rail into a walking and cycling greenway but Mr Lavelle is totally opposed to this. He believes that this piece of infrastructure could be used to provide a link to Knock Airport.

He has wide-ranging suggestions for the Western Rail Corridor infrastructure that is in place including the provision of a service to the Oranmore Industrial Area, a commuter railway that would serve GMIT, the Bon Secours Hospital and Renmore while providing a more efficient service to NUIG and University Hospital.

“Students could attend college without relocating to Galway City. Young people could remain in the rural landscape, live at home and attend college at far lower costs on their parents.

“This would reduce traffic congestion into the city and reduce house prices as accommodation demand would be lowered.

“Tuam and Athenry would be about 40 minutes from GMIT and NUIG. Developers could provide student accommodation in these locations at a lower cost than in city. It would be a way of keeping the youth in the rural areas,” Mr Lavelle told The Connacht Tribune.

He then is suggesting the extension of the Western Rail Corridor into Knock Airport – it would involve the provision of a 5km link off the existing track – while also constructing a rail line into Shannon Airport at the other end.

He said that public transport access to the two main airports on the western seaboard could be provided for the majority of people living in Connacht. He believes the service would pay for itself over time.

“Why should the west of Ireland give up this existing infrastructure, when we already have it?

“Dublin Airport is looking for such connectivity into the city centre, while some people in Connacht are arguing against our future by shutting down the Western Rail Corridor with potential links into existing major airports,” Mr Lavelle added.

Connacht Tribune

Hospitals cope with overcrowding and staff shortages as Covid crisis peaks

Dara Bradley



Confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to skyrocket in Galway, as virus-related frontline healthcare staff shortages persist and now overcrowding emerges as a new threat.

Galway experienced four days of record-breaking positive case notifications in the past week, as hospitalisations grew exponentially and pressure was heaped on the critical care units at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Portiuncula.

Hospital management said it was unsure whether community transmission had peaked locally yet – and they expect hospitals to be under ‘significant pressure’ from Covid admissions well into February.

Nurses have highlighted how overcrowding in the Emergency Department of the county’s two main public hospitals has returned – some 112 patients were stuck on trolleys awaiting admission to UHG and Ballinasloe on five mornings in the past week. Meanwhile, it hasn’t yet been officially confirmed that the new UK variant of Covid is present in Galway, but authorities believe it is.

The latest data shows there has been no let-up in new cases notifications in Galway – 604 confirmed cases were notified for Monday, the highest in Ireland and Galway’s worst ever day by a long shot.

It was a frightening figure but it was not for one day and was part of clearing the backlog of cases over Christmas and New Year, the HSE said.

That pushed Galway’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 to 1033.9 more than double what it was a week ago and eight times what it was a fortnight ago. Some 2,668 new Galway cases were notified in the fortnight to midnight Tuesday.

Read the full story and comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Suffer little children – report shines a light into shameful past

Dave O'Connell



Baby clothing hanging from a tree branch in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home burial ground this week. PHOTO: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Tribune Comment

The final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes shines a light into the darkest recesses of our shameful past; young women and tiny babies neglected by Church and State – fellow, frail human beings whose lives and deaths somehow didn’t matter at all.

These women and their children were punished, hidden out of sight; mistreated at best; physically and sexually abused at worst – and way, way too many were left to die without a shred of dignity in their lives or in their passing.

The Trojan work and dedication of people like Catherine Corless lifted the stone on the shame – but it is only in their shocking stories, as we’ve read and heard this week, that we can get any sense of the depths of this depravity.

Many of the mothers were little more than children themselves, who had their little babies taken from them and given away with even a sliver of consent.

There were no records of their adoption, and no willingness, even decades later, to help those babies to find their birth mothers. Because to do so would have exposed the cruel and heartless manner of their forced adoptions in the first place.

And yet exposing this scandal is only the first step; an apology was the very least they were entitled to. Now we as a nation, and particularly those religious orders who ran the homes, must do everything to redress this wrong.

We must open the files so that they can discover their full life stories, find their living relatives, and be compensated so that at least the rest of their lives are in complete contrast to all they’ve endured until now.

We need to look at how we can give hundreds of innocent babies a proper burial – however belated and insufficient that may be.

Nothing will undo the damage – but now that the depths of this depravity have finally been laid bare, there must be no equivocation, no prevarication; just a commitment to doing whatever it takes to try and right a terrible wrong.

See full coverage of the Commission’s Report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Galway couple celebrate a remarkable 75th wedding anniversary

Francis Farragher



Martin and Kathleen McEvilly, pictured with their son John, who was home from Boston.

THEY are without doubt the King and Queen of Rosscahill – 104-year-old Martin McEvilly and his 96-year-old wife, Kathleen – who last week celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

Both Martin and Kathleen still live at home as part of the Killannin community, and although Covid has presented its difficulties, they still managed to have a small anniversary celebration on January 7 last.

The couple tied the knot back on January 7, 1946, just three months after World War II had ended, when Martin was 29 and his bride – also a McEvilly (from nearby Oughterard) – was just 21 years of age.

Seven children later – three boys and four girls – there are now also many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to carry on the McEvilly lineage, and hopefully too, the genetic gift of longevity.

Two of ‘the lads’ – Pat and Mike – still live locally as do daughters Noreen (now a carer for her parents) and Madge, while John (the youngest) is in Boston, with daughters Mary and Christina in Sydney and Australia.

Son Pat, who lives in Knockferry, said that the 75th diamond wedding anniversary, was still a very special occasion for the family and one of great happiness.

“You don’t hear of them too often – 75th wedding anniversaries – and it was a very special occasion for all of us, to have our parents still alive and well,” said Pat.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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