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Blood, sweat and fears – with bucket loads of love

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Date Published: {J}

Private people who never wanted to be in the public eye found themselves on the streets of Galway last week protesting against plans by the HSE to cut funding for disability services in Galway.

And while they have no desire to be the focus of attention, several families agreed to talk to The Connacht Tribune to show what’s involved in caring for individuals with special needs and how vital the current, hard-won, services are to their lives.

PAULINE MOLLOY from Headford is a gentle woman with a spine of steel who was determined from day one to give her 17-year old son Shane, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy “the best quality of life he could have”. She gave up her job to give him that and through blood, sweat and tears, has succeeded. Pauline’s fear now is that 17 years of progress will be lost.

Shane is wheelchair bound and from the moment he gets up in the morning, he has to be hoisted everywhere. Showering can take an hour, then there’s physiotherapy to stretch his legs and hips. That’s before breakfast.

He has gaiters which he has to wear for three hours daily to keep his knees straight – like the physio, this helps avoid surgery.

Shane eats normal food and, if it’s chopped up, is able to finger-feed himself, but needs somebody to hold his cup.

He is in nappies and changing him involves hoisting him in and out of his chair five times daily.

Shane goes to Rosedale School in the Brothers of Charity Woodlands complex in Renmore from Monday to Friday. He is collected at 7.45am and returns home at 4pm. There, the staff do physio with him and get him into his standing frame for 45 minutes daily. One of his hips is semi-dislocated and that exercise helps keep it strong.

When Shane gets home Pauline puts his backroll on him and does more stretches.

She is full of praise for the staff at Rosedale and how the school has helped Shane, physically and mentally.

“When he was younger, our usual day was Shane screaming all day long.”

He was classed by a psychologist at two as severely mentally affected – now he is classed as moderate.

“He needed to have familiar faces all the time – a person could walk into the room and he’d start screaming. Now that has changed. The staff are so loving and caring. When he is relaxed Shane will talk out, and he’s just so relaxed at school. They’re brilliant.”

However, it took 10 years, between school and respite care at the John Paul Centre in Ballybane for Shane to settle down. He gets respite care in Ballybane for two weekends a month and one night a week.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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