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Wildlife haven on Galway city’s doorstep

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Friends of Merlin Woods at the launch of a map and information board. From left: Colm Stanley, photographer and designer, John Lusby, Birdwatch Ireland, Cllr Frank Fahy, Noel Barbour, photographer, and Kevin Hough, map design. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets the Friends of Merlin Woods and hears about riches of a little-used woodland

It’s the biggest woodland area in Galway City, containing a vast variety of wildlife from red squirrels to rare orchids, yet Merlin Woods remains an unknown territory to most people.

That’s changing, thanks to the work of a small, but dedicated group, Friends of Merlin Woods, which was set up two years ago.

On Saturday, the group gathered near the entrance to the woods to launch an information board, consisting of a large map and a poster, which outlines the huge wealth of wildlife and history contained in this 140-acre site, and the walks that will lead to these treasures.

This information board will be a permanent fixture in Merlin and anybody with even the slightest interest in wildlife will be amazed at the riches of  these woods on the eastern outskirts of Galway City.

The Friends of Merlin Woods group was initially set up two years ago opposing a plan by Galway City Council to run a 1.9km bus corridor through the woodlands, as proposed in the Galway City Development Plan 2011-2017.

The group argued that such a corridor was environmentally unsound and would divide the woods and the local community.

Friends of Merlin Woods was founded in October 2012 and held its first litter-picking event a month later.

In just two years, the group has gone way beyond its original aspiration of stopping that bus corridor, as Saturday’s launch proved.

“Making local people aware of the woods and connecting people with nature is one of the major achievements of the group,” according to John Lusby of Birdwatch Ireland, who officially unveiled the information board.

“Enforcing the woods into people’s consciousness is important. For people in a city, wildlife and nature can get lost and it’s important to keep it going,” he said.

Twenty people regularly attend Friends of Merlin Woods meetings, while the group has over 1,600 followers on its very active and colourful Facebook page.

The Friends host regular events in the woods, embracing everything from batwalks to history tours and butterfly surveys

After being allocated funding from the Heritage Council they carried out a bat survey, which revealed that five species of bats use the woods, North and South.

An old castle in the North woods is a home to brown long-eared bats and, at present, the group is campaigning to have conservation work carried out there to ensure it continues in this role, says Caroline Stanley of the Friends of Merlin Group.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Huge study gives thumbs up to dairy in the diet

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Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Every time I go to a café, I am amazed by the offering now available for people who no longer want to add milk to their brew. Even in the tiniest of coffee kiosks, they stock oat, soy or almond milk as an alternative to cow’s milk, usually for a surcharge of around 50c, reflecting the high cost of these alternatives.

The big food companies have lately got in on the act, offering non-dairy yogurts in the convenient small pots in most supermarkets. Customers no longer have to head to the health store for these premium, specialist products.

The trend to non-dairy and vegan diets – which means no animal products at all – has certainly become mainstream among Generation Z and Millennials.

But is it good for your health?

A comprehensive new study originating in Sweden would suggest otherwise – at least when it comes to the consumption of dairy.

The international team of scientists studied the dairy fat consumption of 4,150 adults aged 60 living in Sweden which has the world’s highest levels of dairy production and consumption.

They measured blood levels of a particular fatty acid that is mostly found in dairy foods rather than relying on people recording the amounts and types of dairy foods eaten, which may be unreliable given that dairy is commonly used in a variety of foods.

Experts then followed this group for an average of 16 years to observe how many died, had heart attacks, strokes and other conditions indicating cardiovascular disease (CVD). After statistically adjusting for other known CVD risk factors such as age, income, lifestyle, dietary habits, they concluded that those with higher intakes of dairy fat had a lower risk of CVD compared to those with low intakes.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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At the official opening of the new tile factory in Portumna on January 13, 1967.

1921

Tenants’ desperation

That the land question is far from settled in certain areas is obvious to those who have been reading the series of articles contributed to these columns by a correspondent in South Galway. The slowness of the Congested Districts Board has been proverbial.

Our correspondent suggests that failure to effect local settlements within a reasonable time, coupled with the inefficiency he charges, have brought about a condition of discontent which may result in a violent explosion at any moment.

No one could contemplate with equanimity such an outburst, for it might have an effect far beyond that intended and might endanger national peace at a period when its preservation is of supreme moment to the Irish people.

But it would seem indisputable that the Congested Districts Board is taking risks that no public body is entitled to take; and the completion of the division of the estates involved should be pushed forward in the public interest without further unnecessary delay.

The tenants on the Ardilaun estate at Cong have already taken the matter into their own hands. At a meeting attended by congests, some of whom walked fifteen miles to be present, it was declared that all confidence had been lost in the Congested Districts Board “which has long since practically ceased to function on this estate” and the tenants requested Dáil Éireann to take over the administration.

The facts in regard to the Ardilaun property are sufficiently remarkable to afford in themselves a damnatory criticism of the Board’s methods. It contains seven hundred householders, whose average valuation is from 15s. to £3. Congestion and poverty is abound; there is little untenanted land to relieve either.

Migration of bodies of tenants is the only real and permanent remedy. But nine years after the late Lord Ardilaun expressed his desire to sell, the Congested Districts Board has not, it would appear, put forward any real effort to relieve a distressing situation.

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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Connacht Tribune

Treasured items evoke precious memories

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The Director of Galway City Museum, Eithne Verling, in front of a map from the 2020 Monument exhibition, which has a special focus on the forts of the Aran Islands. As with Keepsakes, Monument demonstrates how travel and inter-cultural connections have shaped our history. PHOTO JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Lifestyle – A new exhibition at Galway City Museum offers an insight into the lives of local residents who hail originally from different parts of Africa. Each one has chosen an item from their past that’s especially significant to them and while these mightn’t be valuable in monetary terms, they’re priceless to their owners, as JUDY MURPHY learns.

A beautifully crafted wooden purse, a small suitcase, a tattered wire-back notebook, a stylish skirt, a check shirt, a colourful wrap, a few old photographs.

Everyday items, but items that are imbued with a deep and special meaning for their owners.

They belong to 10 people who have travelled to Ireland from various parts of Africa to seek asylum in this country. For the 10, these small belongings represent a vital link with home and help them retain their identity in a world full of uncertainty.

They are on display for Keepsakes/Cuimhneacháin, an initiative of Galway City Museum. Each of the precious belongings is accompanied by an account from the contributor about the significance of their chosen item.

The stories transcend borders and cultures as the 10 share details of family connections, special occasions and momentous occasions – sometimes happy, sometimes not.

Georgina Edwiza from Zimbabwe, the facilitator of Keepsakes, chose a ‘Zambia wraparound’ as her special item. It was given to her by her younger brother to whom she is very close. Five years ago, he was kidnapped, viciously attacked and left to die on a remote rail track. An oncoming train crushed his right leg above the knee but the driver rescued the young man and brought him to the hospital, where his leg was amputated. His family were warned that he might not survive, but miraculously he did.

Georgina decided to leave Zimbabwe. Before departing, she visited him in hospital and brought the wraparound with her. They held it and cried as she told him of her decision.

After five years in Ireland, she has carved out a good life here but his gift still connects them, she says.

And whenever Georgina feels homesick she wraps herself in this colourful fabric, connecting herself to her country as well as her family.

For the Museum’s Director Eithne Verling, Keepsakes, which is on display in the building’s foyer, fits perfectly with the institute’s remit. Galway is Ireland’s most multi-cultural city, she says, with almost 20 per cent of its population hailing from other countries, so Keepsakes represents part of our unfolding history.

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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