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Connacht Tribune

Throwing light on sight loss – and the solution



Two years ago, retired art teacher Moyra Manifold went to get her eyes tested with nothing more pressing than the belief she needed stronger reading glasses – only it turned out to be a little bit more than that.

The Galway antique shop owner was diagnosed with Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the number one cause of sight loss in Ireland for those aged over 50, with more than 7,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

She knew all about the condition, because her brother was diagnosed with the same thing around ten years previously. He had described it as ‘like a cloud in front of your eyes that gets denser’.

Moyra also found she struggled to see straight ahead and noticed she was reading the Sunday newspaper sideways in order to be able to see the small print.

Yet, even though Moyra was experiencing these symptoms, she said there was ‘no big change’ in her eyesight and described it as quite a gradual deterioration.

Soon after her diagnosis, Moyra had a cataract operation which she described as a ‘quick and short treatment’.

Moyra classes herself as very lucky. “If you don’t have it treated you could go blind,” she said and since she has retired, she has owned an antique shop in Galway called An Gailearaí Beag and is an avid painter so having good eye sight is vital for her.

AMD is hereditary, and Moyra believes her mother also had the condition, but people weren’t aware of it at the time.

Moyra said she remembers her mother wearing strong glasses and getting books with large print from the library for her but was able to tell that she still couldn’t see properly.

This week marked the eleventh annual AMD Awareness Week and the theme for this year is ‘Sightsee with Me.”

Sightseeing and travelling with family is enjoyed by many people and the campaign aims to highlight the importance of managing eye health to continue to see impressive sights with loved ones.

Although Moyra likes travelling, she has nothing planned at the moment but recently went on a trip to Transylvania with her friend from Art College which she described as ‘great fun’.

She went on her first guided tour and ‘absolutely loved it’ and said there was a mix of all different ages there.

“They could all see where they were going and so could I,” she said.

As part of the awareness week, Novartis, a multinational pharmaceutical company, offered free AMD eye testing on an open top bus travelling the country and also provided information on the condition.

And, with the help of the Association of Optometrists Ireland, Fighting Blindness, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists and the National Council for the Blind they provided a range of other targeted initiatives that encouraged people over 50 to get an AMD eye test to ensure they continued to see the things they love.

The National Council for the Blind of Ireland also hosted coffee mornings during the week to raise public awareness and to encourage discussion about the condition.

Lynda McGivney-Nolan, Optometric Advisor to Association of Optometrists said that optometrists are trained to identify the early changes at the macula which can appear before your eye sight is affected and they are also trained to give you the best advice on how to reduce and manage your risk of developing AMD.

“If you have any concerns about your vision, you should always talk to your optometrist,” she said.

Connacht Tribune

Nurses call in Chief Fire Officer on ED overcrowding



UHG's Emergency Department.

The nurses’ union has formally urged the Chief Fire Officer to investigate 17 alleged breaches of the fire regulations as a result of chronic overcrowding in the emergency department at University Hospital Galway.

It’s the second time the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has done so since Christmas, fearing the lives of staff and patients are being put in grave danger.

The emergency department was busier than normal last week, with between 222 and 251 patients turning up to be seen per day. On Wednesday of last week there were 53 patients waiting on trolleys, according to figures released by the Saolta Hospital group. That went down to 47 on Thursday and Friday.

This week has seen little let up. On Monday and Tuesday the number of people who could only get a trolley was down to 36 and 38 respectively.

Local area representative of the INMO, Anne Burke, said as a result of very high attendances at the temporary emergency department, management had opened a transit area where between 12 and 14 people could be accommodated in cubicles.

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

Comer has eyes on the prize



Damien Comer undergoing an eye test at Specsavers; the Galway star is encouraging all to look after their eyesight and hearing.

If you Google Damien Comer, the first entry the search returns is a dedicated Wikipedia page, which declares: “He’s better than David Clifford”.

And while Wikipedia as a source of fact isn’t necessarily always reliable, who are we to argue with it?

But whatever about comparisons with Kerry greats, the Annaghdown clubman is certainly up there among Galway’s finest ever footballers.

Winning a first All-Star last season, from his third nomination, was proof of that. It was a special personal accolade, but he’d trade it in a shot for a Celtic Cross.

“It was nice to get but if I finish my career not having won an All-Ireland, I’ll be very disappointed,” he declared.

Comer hints that the 2022 All-Ireland final loss to Kerry last July was not one of his better games in maroon, and it’s one he thinks about regularly.

“Yeah, I would yeah, I’d think about it a bit. But I try to forget it as well, because it wasn’t a good day for me, personally, anyway.

“You try to forget about it and yet you have to try to learn from it and improve on the mistakes you made, and stuff you didn’t do that you should’ve done, and different things that you can bring to this season.

“It’s one that’s hard to forget about really because we were there for so long. Sixty minutes in, neck-and-neck, and then they just pulled away, so it was disappointing,” he said.

Damien Comer has teamed up with Specsavers to encourage people to take a more proactive approach to their eye and hearing health. There’s a full interview with him ahead of Sunday’s National Football League Final, is in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from 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 publican reflects on traumatic journey that ended with his abuser in jail



Paul Grealish. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway businessman Paul Grealish remembers the moment back in 2000 when he was given a sheet of paper and asked to write about his life. He was on weekend-long self-development course that he’d been sent on by his brother John. At the time, John was managing director of their family business for which Paul and their sister, Joan, also worked.

“The course was probably done in an attempt to make it easier to manage me,” says Paul with a laugh, adding that he “was tough to manage” back then.

He was enjoying the course – until he received that blank sheet.

“I got about four or five sentences in, writing about my early life. Until I got to the primary school part . . . I was in tears,” he remembers. “I was so used to compartmentalising things, I didn’t see the danger.”

In the early 1970s, aged nine and ten years, Paul had been beaten and sexually abused by his teacher, Brother Thomas Caulfield, at Tuam CBS primary school.

He had repressed those memories for nearly three decades.

“You bury the memory, and you bury it as deep as you can. There’s an awareness of something terrible there but it’s too frightening for you to actively remember.”

Paul was so terrified of those memories that he’d lost all recollection of his childhood. He couldn’t tell his story.

He was meant to show it to one of the course leaders – a counsellor, he thinks. Instead, Paul put the nearly-blank sheet before the man and explained what had happened.

Realising Paul’s plight, that man gave him a list of phone numbers for counsellors in Galway.

“Every now and again, I’d look at it and think about ringing them but I didn’t,” Paul says.

However, the abuse that had robbed Paul of his childhood and blighted his adulthood with feelings of guilt and self-hatred refused to stay buried. Finally, he knew he had to deal with it. That journey began in the early 2000s and Paul finally got closure earlier this month when Caulfield was sentenced to 27 months in prison – with the final seven suspended – for his crime.

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