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Woman’s island adventures – with six Connemara ponies



It might have been the maddest idea of the summer; an English woman taking herself and six Connemara ponies – two of them unbroken – to an uninhabited island off Connemara coast.

But now Emma Massingale’s adventure on deserted Fraoch Oileán – out from the coastline of Moyard and Cleggan – have been turned into an inspiring DVD called the Island Project, which was launched last week.

The story of the English woman from Devon who spend the month of June living in a tent on an island without services – and breaking horses without saddles, stirrups or harnesses – had captured the public’s imagination before it even began.fdghdfg

Emma wanted to find out if, without the help of a bridle, saddle or equipment of any kind – nor any kind of enclosure – she could back and train two ponies that had never been ridden before.

Her plan was to see if she could use her four trained ponies to influence the newcomers.

The Island Project tells the story of three year old Evenos and four year old Echo, both geldings bought in May from the Connemara pony sales in Clifden and taken in June to the 70-acre uninhabited and windswept island.

“It truly was an Irish adventure. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the generous help from so many in the area, and I’ll always be grateful,” Emma said.

Emma, who slept some of her time on the rain soaked island in a tent, and the rest in a cave, knew the challenge would be huge.

“I knew it was going to be solitary – I had only the ponies for company. My challenge, and it was huge, was to work with and start Evenos and Echo completely at liberty, without the use of any tack, and without any help.

“There were no places to catch the ponies, no help and no home comforts, just me, the ponies and our relationship.

“It wasn’t going to be plain sailing and, when people asked me before I began, I said it would test me to the limit and test my ponies’ trust.

“The concept of starting a horse completely at liberty isn’t something to be taken lightly. Horses rely on caution, flight and agility, to keep themselves safe.

“Starting a horse at liberty is the perfect challenge. There is nowhere to hide, you can either do it or you can’t, there is no cheating, no shortcuts; no easy wins,” she added.

Emma was determined that she would be alone for the month of the project and much of the footage she filmed herself, using a number of cameras from GoPros to handheld devices.

Spectacular aerial footage was filmed separately to capture the wild remote beauty of the place. With Emma recording her progress in the style of a daily filmed diary, she has been able to catch every moment as the ponies cottoned on to what they were being taught.

The story also tells of the daily trials of life on the island, bathing in a plastic barrel, swimming in the sea to catch fish with her spear gun, or delving amongst the rock pools for cockles to eke out the rice rations she had taken with her.

“It was a proper adventure, a bit scary when it was wet and windy and we only had four dry days, but it was the most amazing experience,” she said.

Emma used her trained ponies to help teach the new pair.

“I taught Evenos to lie down pretty much straight away by showing him the others doing it.

“From there I taught him to stop, turn and go while riding another horse at liberty, without the use of tack, so he got used to seeing me up above.

“To have half a ton of horse that wants to work with you, when they are at liberty, is the purest, the most perfect challenge.”

Emma’s collaboration with equine film specialists Equine Productions on the previous documentary ‘No Reins, No Rules, No Limits,’ which introduced her to a wider audience, has won two international awards this year, including last month’s Equus Film Festival in New York.

Equine Productions worked with Emma on ‘The Island Project’ too.

The new DVD, which is available on Amazon, includes a variety of bonus features including an emotional interview with Emma recorded within hours of leaving the island, glorious aerial shots, as well as the award winning ‘No Reins, No Rules No Limits.’

“What better place to do such an awesome challenge than the stunning homeland of the ponies.

“Waking up and living for a month with the breath-taking hills as a backdrop will remain with forever, Ireland is a very special place to me,” added Emma.

Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base



The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.


Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number



Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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