Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
A campaign has begun this week to save a specialist care service which has provided counselling and comfort to hundreds of bereaved families and individuals in crisis at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, for almost two decades.
Throughout East Galway, people have pledged to save the Pastoral Care Department at the hospital after it emerged that the 24/7 coverage provided by three staff members was to be replaced by just one bereavement counsellor, following two retirements late last year.
The Portiuncula Hospital Action Committee has been inundated with calls and correspondence from people who have used the service down through the years, many of whom received personalised counselling following fatal road traffic accidents involving loved-ones, miscarriages, or the death of a child.
Two of the three staff members in the department have retired since October and the moratorium on public sector recruitment has resulted in plans to replace them with a scaled-down service which may not be available out of normal working hours.
The department has traditionally provided specialist one-on-one counselling to family members affected by fatal accidents, miscarriages, still births, or the diagnosis of terminal illnesses during crisis periods in their lives.
Five years ago, the families of two teenage Muslim girls who lost their lives in a fatal accident at Kilreekil wrote to a national newspaper to praise the attention they had received from the multi-denominational Pastoral Care Department. Local people are now concerned that the service is set to be abandoned or downgraded.
“A significant number of people have contacted me to highlight this issue over the past couple of days,” said Padraig Mulligan of the Portiuncula Hospital Action Committee on Wednesday. “I cannot believe the numbers who are getting in contact to express concern about this.
“I availed of this service myself a number of years ago, during a very difficult time, and I could only describe it as fantastic. People don’t realise how brilliant this service is until they have to use it themselves. People are horrified at the prospect of it being taken away.”
Cllr Tomas Mannion (FF) said it was ironic that he was attending a suicide prevention conference in Limerick when he heard about the threatened closure of the Pastoral Care Service at Portiuncula this week, as the staff members had done so much to save lives over the years.
“It was more than a bit ironic that I heard about this on the day I heard a presentation on suicide prevention,” he said.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
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.