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.
Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement
Date Published: 07-May-2013
Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.
It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.
Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores
This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.
However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.
Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.
That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.
The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.
Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.
Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.
He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.
Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.