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Connacht Tribune

An Gaírdín celebrates 25 years a-growing

Judy Murphy

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Noreen Lyons at the Gaírdín, Portumna.

Lifestyle – An organic and ecology centre set up in Portumna in 1994 by a small group of Mercy nuns, is now a focal point in the community. Rooted in its own area, this garden is also part of a bigger environmental movement. JUDY MURPHY hears how it’s evolving.

When the Mercy order of nuns allowed Noreen Lyons and three other Sisters from the Clonfert Diocese, “to follow our dream” back in 1994, they gave the green light to a project that was way ahead of its time.

The vision involved a small group of nuns – former teachers – opting to live in harmony with the land and the seasons, cherishing the Earth and all its inhabitants. They developed a centre in Portumna on two-and-a half-acres of land belonging to the Mercy order, where people could live and work with nature.

“It was to rediscover our relationship to the land and the earth,” explains Noreen, a woman with a warm nature, a quiet spirituality and the air of someone who gets things done.

Their site had formerly been the garden of Portumna’s Domestic Economy School, an institute the Mercy nuns had set up in the late 1800s, to teach women crafts and agricultural skills that would help them earn their living as farmers’ wives.

The school closed down in the late 1980s after almost a century of providing this service. Its building now houses apartments, while its gardens are home to An Gáirdín Organic and Ecology Centre. It plays a vital role in Portumna, where it’s used by groups from schoolchildren to creative writers, while produce from the organic garden is sold locally.

When Noreen and other members of the fledgling Centre ran their first organic gardening course in 1993, they struggled to find tutors who had any knowledge of organic gardening. She recallst his as she, her fellow Sister Anne Mills, gardener Des and several volunteers give the Connacht Tribune a guided tour of An Gáirdín.

That’s not a problem today, thanks in large part to their work. An Gáirdín has become a hub for educational courses including organic production, bee-keeping, cooking, composting, cosmology and more besides.

For 25 years, it has played a vital role in educating people about making choices that benefit the Earth and all its inhabitants – including human beings. This is done in a hands-on, positive way that encourages and engages people. Children, especially those from the local primary school, love coming here, foraging and enjoying a variety of teas made with herbs from the garden, says Róisín, one of the volunteers who helps out with the comprehensive Schools Education Programme.

Recent warnings from the United Nations about global warming have focused on the urgent need to care for the natural world.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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.

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Connacht Tribune

Hanley’s high-quality minors break new ground in great style

John McIntyre

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Galway 3-14

Kilkenny 0-12

HURLING history was made much easier than expected at Croke Park last Sunday when Galway claimed a third consecutive All-Ireland minor hurling title for the first time ever.

As it transpired, this repeat of last year’s championship decider was a no-contest. Galway were so superior it made a nonsense of the conventional theory that the more games a team plays, they better they should become.

This may have been Kilkenny’s eighth match of a protracted campaign, but it was undoubtedly their worst display in falling to a heavy 11-point defeat. The young Cats were almost too bad to be true and their tame challenge faded completely after the break.

Though Kilkenny’s poverty considerably eased the task of the defending champions, the manner in which Galway went about their business was still impressive. Their overall skills set was in a different league, while their big-match temperament also stood them in good stead.

Having to beat the same team twice in the same championship can be problematic and although only three points had separated Sunday’s protagonists in the quarter-final round-robin series a few weeks ago, there was little or no drama in the championship’s defining battle such was the gulf in standard.

Not alone were Galway completing a notable three-in-a-row, but this was also the fourth time in the last five years that the Irish Press Cup has returned west, while the county has now captured eight of the last 16 All-Ireland minor titles.

This is an exceptional feat by any standards and new Galway manager Brian Hanley has clearly followed in the footsteps of his successful predecessor, Jeffrey Lynskey, in recognising young talent and then shaping them into a formidable team.

Galway are now the undisputed brand leaders at minor level and while the failure to translate this dominance to greater success in senior ranks remains a deep source of frustration, this week in not the time to be looking at the wider picture.

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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