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Lifestyle

Brotherly love is a life saver for Mattie

Judy Murphy

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Lifestyle – Judy Murphy hears of the impact of living donors for people in need of a transplant

”I could spend all evening and the most of the weekend explaining what this transplant means to me and I don’t think I would get it across to you,” says Mattie Hoban about the change that has taken place in his life since receiving a kidney transplant seven months ago.

Sitting across the table from Mattie is his brother Sean, the man whose donation is responsible for giving Mattie back his quality of life.
Sean isn’t looking for any glory for donating a kidney to his older brother – the reason he has agreed to be interviewed, he says honestly, is to demonstrate that living donation is not only possible, but that it can be hugely successful.

The two brothers live near each other in Abbey-Duniry, East Galway, and it’s obvious that they are very close. Sean, who is self-employed, runs a garage, while Mattie has a small farm. Years ago he was a lorry driver, but that all changed drastically back in 1989. He went to the doctor suffering from tiredness and was initially prescribed an antibiotic for a kidney infection.

When that didn’t work, the doctor sent him to a kidney specialist in Merlin Park Hospital. The father of three young children, aged between 12 and six years of age was told almost immediately that he was suffering from kidney failure and needed to begin dialysis immediately.

It was a dreadful shock for Mattie and his wife Kathleen, but there was no other option. He was very sick during the dialysis, but a year and a half later a kidney became available and he received a transplant.

Unknown to Mattie and Kathleen, Sean had put out feelers about becoming a living donor way back then, but while that was allowed in other countries, it wasn’t being done in Ireland at the time.

The kidney he received worked, “but it wasn’t 100 per cent”, Mattie recalls, adding that he still wasn’t able to return to work.

Eventually it also started to fail, and by 1997, after being checked by transplant experts in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, he was back on dialysis. Again, he was back to Merlin Park three times weekly, being hooked up to a machine so that toxins could be filtered from his body. He was fortunate in that it only lasted a couple of months – by early 1998, another kidney had become available.
“The second was brilliant and I got a good 10 years out of it,” he says.
For Mattie one of the highlights of getting that kidney is a thing most of us don’t even think about and it’s the simple act of drinking water.

When you are on dialysis you are restricted to 500 ml of water a day – very little. After he got that transplant, he wasn’t allowed water for several days – the nurses and his family would just wet his lips. “Then the doctor came in and said ‘you are on free fluids from today’,

meaning I could have water. It was better than winning the Lottery.”
But 10 years later, it failed. Mattie explains that some people who receive kidney transplants can “have them for 20 or 30 years, but there are no guarantees”.

Over 20 years ago, when he was first diagnosed, the average lifespan for a transplanted kidney was seven years, but that has improved hugely, thanks to advances in medicine.

However, for Mattie, because he’d had a build up of antibodies over time, as a reaction to the previous two kidneys being put into his body, it was getting more difficult to get a match, he says.

He went back on dialysis in 2007 and was on it for five years. He got great care from the staff in Merlin Park’s dialysis unit but it was a grim time, he says.

“Dialysis keeps you alive, but you can’t live,” he explains, outlining the dietary restrictions involved when a person has kidney failure, not to mention the constant visits to specialists on top of the three days of dialysis every week at Merlin Park.

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

Country Living

Seeking out little solaces from gloom of November

Francis Farragher

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Advent is on the way in what has turned out to be a full year of penance!

Country Living with Francis Farragher

NOVEMBER is probably one of those months that’s akin to Patrick Kavanagh’s famous line on dandelions ‘growing on headlands, showing their unloved hearts to everyone’.  I’ve yet to meet someone who told me that November was their favourite month of the year, but like the dandelions, it won’t go away and despite the efforts of rugby people to give in an autumn status in terms of titling their international games, for me it will always be that time of darkest Winter.

Mind you, it’s not so bad once you accept your lot with the month. The sunrises, whenever we’re lucky enough to see them under clearer skies, have now slunk back to after 8 o’clock, while each evening the sun’s indecent haste to retreat often ushers in darkness shortly after 4pm.

Our current predicament hasn’t been helped by what’s going around us and by the greyness of the weather, so overall it is a bit of a battle to ease the gloom of November. However, in the midst of all those dark clouds, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have shelter from the elements and who can sit in front of a glowing turf fire, the month does have its little consolations.

Gone are the long evenings when the ‘to do list’ of outdoor chores stretched all the way up to double digits; and now at least there’s the consolation of not feeling one ounce of guilt at getting comfy on an armchair, opening a bottle of Peroni, and listening to the Atlantic tempests belting against the windows.

For those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to have an interest in sport, there are some real television treats like the hurling and football championships (admittedly not much of a consolation last weekend if you’re of maroon extraction); the Masters’ golf from Augusta; and the rather less-attractive sight of our Irish soccer team getting a mauling from the ‘Auld Enemy’ at Wembley.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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Connacht Tribune

Honouring a master of music

Judy Murphy

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Steve Cooney. Photo by Colin Gillen

Lifestyle – Australian-born Steve Cooney moved to Ireland 40 years ago, instructed to do so by his Aboriginal tribe. Since then his contribution to Irish music has earned him admirers and friends at home and abroad. Next week, he will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in RTÉ’s Folk Awards. He tells JUDY MURPHY of his journey.

When ground-breaking guitar player Steve Cooney played the Clifden Arts Festival shortly before Covid-19 Level Five restrictions were re-imposed, he had no idea he’d won the Lifetime Achievement award in this year’s RTÉ’s annual Folk Awards.

The accolade, announced last week, has topped off a good year for Steve who was performing in Clifden with Cúil Aodh singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, and whose new album Ceol Ársa Cláirsí: Tunes of the Irish Harp for Solo Guitar has been getting rave reviews.

On it, Steve has taken Irish harp tunes, which were composed or collected between the early 17th century and late 18th century, playing them on steel-string and nylon-string guitar.

It’s a project he embarked “for personal satisfaction” and the result is a multi-layered, magical, meditative album.

Among the people he credits on the album is the renowned harpist Kathleen Loughnane, who lives in Galway City and whose extensive research into the tradition offered new insights into the tunes of the Connellan brothers from Sligo. Four of their tunes feature on Steve’s album, alongside work by Turlough Ó Carolan, Denis Ó hAmsaigh, Ruaidhrí Dall Ó Cathain and others.

Given that the harp has such a sacred place in Irish music, interpreting these tunes on guitar seems like a brave move. But Steve has always followed his own musical path and loves the harp. So, it’s no surprise that he feels guitar players “should be able to claim it: we pluck strings and should not feel that territory is forbidden to us”.

He has enormous respect for the harpers who were an intrinsic part of the ancient Gaelic tradition that fell victim to English rule, and he praises the complexity of their tunes.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

Stephen Corrigan

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A view of Galway City captured from atop Galway Fire Station in 1979, taking in Wolfe Tone Bridge and some of Fish Market Square. The site of McDonogh's Fertilizers is now home to Jury's Hotel, while there have also been significant changes to the buidings on Quay Lane over the years.

1920

Workers for peace

English Labour, which appears to have found itself as impotent in the face of the mechanical Coalition majority at Westminster as the Irish Party found itself against Carsonism in the days of the Curragh revolt, has at last been afforded an opening towards making an effective bid for peace with Ireland.

The Irish Trades’ Congress this week accepted the British workers’ conditions of settlement, and noted that their teams, unlike those of British Ministers, leave no loopholes and are devoid of ambiguity.

Briefly, the British workers suggest that the present campaign of militarism against the Irish people should end; that a constituent Irish assembly should be elected by proportional representation, and that it should devise a constitution subject only to the safeguards of minorities and the naval and military interests of the British Empire.

It is a significant advance that democracies on each side of the Irish Sea find themselves not merely in agreement as to the methods by which peace may be brought about, but ready to translate these methods to action if the opportunity is given.

Older politicians, however, will not fail to register the initial criticism that when British parties are out of power, they are always ready to extend the hand of friendship to Ireland and to back up the gesture with promises that they cannot at the moment fulfil.

Witness to the case of Mr. Asquith who as Prime Minister in 1914 gave the lead in the doctrine that the Irish minority must continue to rule the majority and in 1920 when he is out of power, pours his anathemas upon his successors for carrying his policy to its logical outcome.

Nevertheless, we have not lost faith in a constitutional settlement. It must be obvious to all sane thinkers that sooner or later peace will have to be brought about by negotiation. The sword can never produce a settlement; only those who would recklessly ignore the lessons of history could hold with the doctrine that force can remedy a situation that has become intolerable.

There is a strong will to peace in Ireland to-day, and it is clear that the cumulative effect of the limited publicity that has been gained from present-day conditions in Ireland is having its effect upon English opinion.

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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