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Ballinasloe’s Fairy Doors provide lifeline for hospital in Peru

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A Ballinasloe businessman has opened up a world of fundraising for a remote hospital in Peru – with his handmade Fairy Doors!

Cathal Cregg began making the Fairy Doors for family and friends – but he quickly grew his idea into a major fundraiser for the Mama Ashu hospital in the Peruvian Andes.

The hospital is in the remote town of Chacas, which is situated at 3,359 meters above sea level, three times the height of Carrantuohill.

And the imaginative concept grew to a whole new level earlier this month when former Cork senior hurling star Sean Og O hAilpin came to Ballinasloe to officially open the door to Fairy World at Cuckoo Hill boot camp.

It marked the latest stage in an endeavour that had its roots in another charitable undertaking – when Cathal volunteered with the Irish Pilgrimage trust in Lourdes, an organization that helps young people with special needs travel to Lourdes every Easter.

While there he met Dr Jackie Pando Kelly of UCC, who is of Peruvian descent herself and who had begun volunteering at Mama Ashu hospital as a medical student.

The area is extremely disadvantaged with little medical services available to the locals; the doctors and nurses, who are mostly Italian and Peruvian, are there on a completely voluntary basis.

And without their help, 8,000 people would be denied medical care.

Cathal and Dr Pando Kelly first decided to write a book of poetry together called ‘Hello in There’, which captures the beauty of Chacas, but also the hardship. The book has helped raise thousands for the hospital to date.  And when the duo reached out to hurling legend Sean Og about a possible Fairy Door fundraiser, he was on board instantly.

“He said he was in immediately, we didn’t have to ask him twice,” said event organizer Cathal Cregg.

Sean Og officially opened Fairy World in an event that saw up to 400 people in attendance.

Children and adults alike were able to decorate their own fairy doors and put them around the three-acre plot of land provided by the Cuckoo Hill boot camp.

A total of 160 fairy doors were sold on the day and all proceeds were put towards medication and equipment for the Mama Ashu hospital.

Cathal, who is a skilled craftsman, personally makes all the fairy doors by hand, while his family and friends do the decorating.

“We even had doctors and nurses in the hospital painting fairy doors for the fundraiser,” he said.

For those who would like to donate to the Mama Ashu hospital, visit hellointhere.ie

Connacht Tribune

Student nurses face all the risk – for no reward

Dara Bradley

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Working on the children’s ward of a busy hospital during a global pandemic is no joke; less funny still when you’re not getting paid for your toil.

All the risk and none of the rewards of qualified staff – that’s the lot of Edel Moore, a student nurse who is currently on placement at University Hospital Galway.

Edel, and hundreds of student nurses like her on placement in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, want more than a round of applause and platitudes from Government.

“None of us want a pat on the back for struggling. We’d just like to be recognised,” she said.

“The Government are full-time talking about front-line workers, and they want to give them a ‘clap hands’. Then you see Junior Ministers getting massive raises. For what? What have they done for us, the student nurses, that they’re getting a €16,000 wage increase?

“We’ve put ourselves through a four year degree but all I’m worth is a clap? Thanks! It’s ridiculous. They say that front-line workers deserve all the help they can get but it just seems that the ones who are able to give us the help we need are not going to give us the help that we deserve.”

Edel Moore is a mature student originally from Westmeath but living in Leitir Mealláin in Connemara with her husband and three children.

A third year student nurse of NUIG, she is currently on placement at the paediatric ward at UHG.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Island museum gets the green light

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Inishbofin museum.

Work is expected to begin shortly on the construction of a museum on Inishbofin after planners gave the green light to the project.

The museum at Middlequarter is being developed by local historian and photographer Marie Coyne – and when completed, it will be home to items of historical significance from both Inishbofin and Inishark.

There is an existing museum on the island but it is too small to house the amount of artefacts, photographs and family histories that have been assembled over the years.

The new building will also include a photographic exhibition room, restoration workshop along with a gift shop and coffee dock. It is proposed that the new 3,400 square feet museum will be built on a site at the rear of Ms Coyne’s home.

Eamon Gavin of Eamon Gavin Architects based in Cornamona told the Connacht Tribune that this was an important project for the island and it was a welcome decision.

And he said that the green light would kickstart the process of conserving the vast and unique artefacts and archives built up over the years.

“As a practice, we have a long history of dealing with planning consultancy on unique rural sites in Connemara and the islands, therefore we fully understood how sensitive the proposed location of the project would be – the site is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Heritage Area,” he said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam woman a picture of health a year after Covid crisis

Declan Tierney

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Tuam's Kitty Farrell with her dog Lulu a year after her Covid diagnosis.

Last year was a Mother’s Day like no other for Kitty Farrell who spent it in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital with Covid – but the 80 year old Tuam woman can look forward to a more sedate celebration this time out….thankfully restored back to full health.

Kitty, from Ballygaddy Road, had developed a debilitating cough the previous week – and when she was admitted to UHG on Mother’s Day, she tested positive for the coronavirus despite a lack of symptoms.

The retired businesswoman spent the next nine days seriously ill in isolation – and all alone as her four children could not visit her.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come through it but I was so sick that at times, it didn’t really matter. But the thought of passing away in isolation made a bad situation even worse,” Kitty said at the time.

A year on, she is back to full health, and while she restricts her movements, Kitty told The Connacht Tribune that she is just happy to be alive and she spends her days ‘pottering about’ and looking forward to the arrival of family members.

“Even though I don’t particularly agree with the current lockdown because everyone should be responsible for their own behaviour, I am living a life of relative isolation at the moment,” she said.

Read Kitty’s full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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