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Connacht Tribune

Galway Mosque opens its doors in wake of attack

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Galway’s Muslim community responded to a wanton act of vandalism on its Maryam Mosque in the best way possible – by throwing open its doors to Galwegians of all faiths and none. Reporter Paul Hyland joined them to see more.

The first thing that strikes you in the sense of openness and light; walking into the Galway Maryam Mosque, I was warmly welcomed by people – young and old, men and women, Muslims and Christians.

The Mosque held a community open day to show people their place of worship, to help them understand what it really means to be a Muslim and to undo the false assumptions about Islamic people.

The open day was organised in the wake of the act of vandalism that was carried out on the Mosque – an attack that may have been seen in some warped mind as a response to the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

The first thing I was struck by was jovial atmosphere at the Mosque. It was everything you would expect from a typically Irish event. There were children of all backgrounds chasing each other around the grounds; oblivious of the context in which this event was being held.

Sr Chanel (left) and Sr Evelyn of the Presentation Sisters, Athenry, are greeted by members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community during their visit to the open day at the Maryam mosque on the Old Monivea Road, Ballybrit.

Dr Mamoon Rashid moved to Ireland in 1999. Originally from the UK, Dr Rashid explained the key principles of Islam to me; how his people worship and how Islam doesn’t allow anyone who carries out acts of violence to consider themselves a real Muslim.

“A mosque is a place of worship for the Muslim community, where we come to pray five times a day and it’s all about having a relationship with God. It’s a relationship that is based on love and following the teachings of Islam which are basically two things, one is the rights of people and the other is the rights of God,” he said.

“So if you’re praying five times a day, a Muslim man or woman should become a really good human being. And that’s why when we talk about the terrorist we say that they cannot be Muslims.

“Because if you pray as a Muslim, the rights of human beings are first. So if you are not performing those rights you cannot be a Muslim. The prayer doesn’t work. You have your own false gods or ignorance, you have false gods of pride, you have false gods of violence,” continued Dr Rashid.

As you enter the Mosque the amount of light in the prayer hall – even on a typically overcast Galway day – is the clearest metaphor for the closeness to God that Dr Rashid and his community strive for.

The hallway leading into the prayer hall was decorated with posters and books filled with information about Islam. Here visitors and their hosts chatted about religion, community, family and the importance of these types of all-inclusive events.

More than one person remarked on the sense of shame they felt when the Mosque was attacked.

Qanita Noonan, Faheen Noonan and Zarin Rashid of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community meeting with Paul and Siobhan Lawless and their son Cian of the Foods of Athenry during the open day in the Maryam mosque on the Old Monivea Road, Ballybrit.

One interaction, in particular, encapsulated the true community spirit of Galway as an elderly Irish man was putting back on his shoes. Three men from the Mosque came to his assistance. They got him a chair and put on his shoes for him.

The man responded simply by saying: “Thank you very much and I’m terribly sorry for what they did to your church.”

Imam Ibrahim Noonan is the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslims in Ireland. Originally from Waterford, Imam Noonan converted to Islam while studying theology in London.

He has a unique understanding of what it means to be painted with the wrong brush. During the 1980s, while living in London, Imam Noonan came under scrutiny – as did most Irish people – due to the IRA bombings in the UK.

Now, a devout Muslim, Imam Noonan is coming under the same racially-motivated judgment because of acts of terror that are no more associated with him than the IRA ones were previously.

“At that time every Irish person [in the UK] was considered a potential terrorist. Of course, that wasn’t the case and that is the exact same case with Muslims.

“There’s about 80,000 Muslims living in Ireland, so 99.999% of them would have no desire to be anything like these people on London bridge and so, therefore, their feeling the same anxiety that the Irish would have felt at that time,” said Imam Noonan.

“The Galway people are brilliant. The last few days has proven it; since this nonsense has happened here,” continued Imam Noonan.

The pressure Muslim people feel when an act of terror is committed in the name of Allah is what Imam Noonan describes and an “inner guilt,” and the need to constantly explain themselves.

What I saw last Saturday was the farthest thing from the events on London Bridge. I saw incredibly polite men and women, who showed respect and kindness each other and their visitors.

There were hugs and handshakes abound and an honest effort from Galway residents to make help the Muslims community feel welcome.

Sisters Chanel and Evelyn – nuns from the Presentation Convent in Athenry – were two such locals there to lend their support the Galway Muslim community.

“I know the Imam’s wife very well, she comes up to the resource centre, in Doughishka, and I just wanted to show some solidarity. I was sorry for what happened,” said Sr Chanel.

Support came also in the shape of Galway West TD Noel Grealish who had this message for the Muslim community in Galway.

“We have a good vibrant Muslim community in Galway and they’re part of our community and a lot of them are business people and provide a lot of jobs,” he said.

And it’s a relationship that works both ways – with Galway’s Muslim community anxious to emphasise its openness to people of all faiths and none.

Or as Imam Noonan put it: “Islam is a religion of peace. I’m here all the time. Come and visit the Mosque. If you have questions about Islam or about why these things are happening, I’m always ready to answer the questions and understand that the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is here to serve the people of Ireland.”

As I was about to leave I was a stopped by a young man who invited me for tea with the organisers.

I thanked him and but said I was on my way out. He was having none of it and seconds later I was sitting down at a table with biscuits, cake and tea laid out in front me.

And what could be more Irish than that?

Connacht Tribune

Renters struck by rocketing increases

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Rents for private accommodation in Galway City have doubled in the past seven years and are now averaging €1,300 per month.

And it’s bad news for renters in the county too, with rents up by more than 82% since the bottom of the market in early 2012.

The latest report from property website Daft.ie shows that since the market trough, rents have increased by 97% in the city and are up 9.1% year on year.

They now stand at an average of €1,297 per month, while in the county, the average is €932, up 15.5% year on year.

Rental inflation was higher in Co Galway that anywhere else in the country over the past year; the next highest was in Waterford County at 15.4%.

That means that average monthly mortgage repayments on a three-bed house in the city would be around €360 less than rental payments, and more than €390 less for a similar property in the county.

Nationally, the average rent is €1,391, up 6.7% on last year.

A break-down of the figures shows that one-bed apartments are renting for an average of €964 per month in Galway City (up 13.6% year on year); a two-bed house for €1,086 (up 11.2%); a three-bed house for €1,258 (up 10%); a four-bed for €1,384 (up 10%) and a five-bed for €1,464 (up 6%).

To rent a single bedroom in the city centre is now averaging €440 per month (up 5.8% over the past year) and €410 in the suburbs (up 7%). A double bedroom is averaging €544 (up 9.2%) in the city centre and €484 (up 5.4%) in the suburbs.

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

Public auction of Castlesampson farm with c.143 acres

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Connaughton Auctioneers are handling the sale of a c.143.40 acre farm located at Corraree and Ballygatta, Castlesampson, just 9km from Athlone/ M6 Motorway and 15km from Ballinasloe Town.

Located in a renowned farming district, the property has an extensive range of modern farm buildings including five-bay single slatted with lay back, three bay double bay slatted, covered yard with crush, two-bay double slatted, three-bay double flat shed and three-bay single flat shed with an overall area of c.10,274 sq. ft.

The lands are being offered for sale in four lots, Lot 1: c.77.77 acres with the farm buildings mentioned above, Lot 2: c.52.43 acres, Lot 3: c.13.20 acres and Lot 4: The entire property c.143.30 Acres with farm buildings. With a public road passing through the farm, there is extensive road frontage to an area of c.2,500 metres thereby holding huge potential for building sites in the future.

The property comes with mains connections to electricity and water and includes overall c.55.07 entitlements included in the sale.

Auctioneer for the sale, Ivan Connaughton stated: “This is a fine farm to come on the open market. The large investment in the ultra-modern farm buildings by the current owners together with an extensive holding of top-quality agricultural lands has attracted interest from both near and far.

The potential for transformation into dairy or usage as a large feed lot has attracted additional interest. Its location in a renowned farming district and conveniently situated close to the Galway/ Dublin M6 Motorway is a major advantage. The farm entitlements that total c.€21,000 per annum are included in the sale and has received a positive response from interested parties to date. I encourage any interested party to contact our office on 090-6663700 for further information and viewing”

The Public Auction is being held in Gullane’s Hotel, Ballinasloe on Friday August 30th at 4.00pm. All are welcome to attend. All legal enquiries can be made to solicitor for the carriage of sale, Hayden & Co. Solicitors, Athlone Tel: 090-6470622

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Connacht Tribune

Offering a lifeline to people affected by cancer

Denise McNamara

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Lifestyle – The Daffodil Centre at UHG which is celebrating its 10th anniversary has given practical and moral support to thousands of cancer patients and their family members since the Irish Cancer Society set it up as a pilot project. DENISE MCNAMARA hears one man’s story of its role in his recovery.

When Alan Rushe began to feel cramps in his stomach, he did not hesitate in attending his local doctor.

His GP asked if he had ever suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). As he had been diagnosed with the condition when he was younger, he was prescribed tablets for that and told to see how they worked.

Six days later, Alan’s condition hadn’t improved so his GP referred him for a colonoscopy. When the invasive test revealed he had colon cancer he was operated on within ten days. Two months later he was started on six months of chemotherapy, getting treatment once every fortnight.

When he was coming to the end of the treatment, Alan found himself in a bind.

He wanted reassurance about what to expect as the chemicals left his body but the doctors and nurses in the oncology ward were far too busy to give him the time he needed to sit and chat.

“One of the things about having cancer, your whole life becomes obsessed with your problem and how you’re dealing with it,” Alan reflects.

“Suddenly you’re coming to the end of chemo and you find yourself in a very strange place; you are in a vacuum. You might be told things by different doctors and nurses but you haven’t taken it in.

“You can’t just drop back into the ward, yet you want to talk to people who know all there is to know about your type of cancer.”

He was advised to go to the Daffodil Centre in University Hospital Galway (UHG), which is run by the Irish Cancer Society to seek further information.

There he found oncology nurse Fionnuala Creighton who manages the Galway Daffodil Centre. She sat down with Alan and gave him the time to answer the myriad of questions that were swirling around his mind.

“She gave me all this information about what to expect when chemo is leaving the body, how it would affect me. She gave me information leaflets and told me about services that are available, such as exercise classes in Cancer Care West,” he explains.

The Daffodil Centre at UHG began as a pilot project for the Irish Cancer Society a decade ago this month.

Aileen McHale, who is now Cancer Information Services Manager with the Irish Cancer Society, was the first nurse to work there.

“We wanted to set up a designated cancer centre in a hospital to provide information to the patient, relatives and general public at the point of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up,” she explains. “I was involved in the setting up and running it and, from the beginning one of my roles was recruiting and training a group of volunteers who would help me in the running of the centre.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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