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Bringing older men back to fore of GAA activity

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Date Published: 19-May-2011

HE may be recognised as the man who played an integral part in guiding his native Tipperary to the Liam McCarthy Cup in 2010, but former Premier County hurling coach Éamon O’Shea is now embracing a new challenge within the GAA.

A member of the Advisory Board for the GAA Social Initiative, O’Shea, who is Head of the Economics Department at NUI Galway, is one of the driving forces behind the programme to encourage older men, many of whom may no longer participate in community activities, to engage with their friends and neighbours once more.

The idea for this venture originated with President Mary McAleese. While attending functions all over the country, she observed that very few older men were present. She concluded that, as a social group, these men were becoming more and more isolated within society.

So, in 2007, President McAleese, along with her husband Martin, established a Forum consisting of leading academics, health and social care professionals, service providers and local and national representatives to explore the issue. Out of this, a number of proposals were generated, one of which identified the GAA as a suitable vehicle to promote this social initiative.

Accordingly, the GAA Social Initiative was launched as a pilot project among four counties originally, before the initiative was re-launched as a club-based, island-wide project in October of last year. To the fore in promoting this initiative has been Professor O’Shea, who was asked to get involved in the venture because, having written extensively on ageing and related studies, he was recognised as one of the authorities on this subject in Ireland.

“So, it was my professional background rather than my GAA connections that led to my involvement initially,” says O’Shea, who is the founder and director of the Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI, Galway. “But I was delighted to be involved in the context of the GAA. I know how it operates.”

Indeed, he believes the GAA is an ideal organisation to support the initiative. Although the Association’s primary function is to organise games for younger people, he says it also has a duty to “encourage clubs to think about not forgetting the people who have been members, and maybe, I would say, the people who have never been members”.

“The GAA is so rooted in communities, they are very well positioned to know what is going on and to offer support for older people in the area,” continues the adopted Salthill man. “I think that is the big advantage the GAA brings. They are so embedded in the social fabric of community life in most places, rural and urban.”

In many respects, the thrust of the GAA Social Initiative is to simply reach out to those older people who feel vulnerable or lonely in the community, many of whom may be forgotten former members of the Association. A number of clubs around the country – including Ballinasloe, Ballinderreen and Clifden GAA clubs in Galway – have already taken the lead on this, organising events from match outings to social evenings to Croke Park Tours for the elderly in their respective parishes.

“It might be that the club organise a couple of nights out during the winter to bring older people together, maybe bring back teams of the past, take a group of older men to Croke Park, or, simply, take them to a county final. One of the things, though, I would like to get across is that there is not any one way of addressing this issue. You will have a good idea that you might think of yourself. It is not prescriptive.

“The initiative is supposed to get people thinking about how we engage with older people in our area and how the GAA can do that best. It is almost to try and remind ourselves that while the GAA is primarily about young people playing sports, there are these connections which are critical to a good quality of life for everybody. Not just the older people themselves, but for everybody in the community.”

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

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.

That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.

The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.

Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.

Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis

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Date Published: 09-May-2013

Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.

A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.

Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.

Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.

Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action

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Date Published: 12-May-2013

The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.

There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.

Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.

Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.

Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.

The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.

However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.

Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.

 

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