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Enable Ireland helps brave Galway girl achieve her ambitions



This is No Limits Week, Enable Ireland’s annual effort to highlight the work the organisation does to make life so much better for those who use its services – like nine year old Lucy MacConnell from Spiddal. Here her mother Dr Niamh O’Brien MacConnell tells how Enable Ireland has helped her daughter live her life to the full.

Our daughter Lucy has Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 3, a severe brittle bone condition that results in her being of short stature with a high risk of fractures.

Lucy MacConnell enjoying summer camp at Enable Ireland Galway.

Lucy MacConnell enjoying summer camp at Enable Ireland Galway.

She has recently turned nine and will be starting in Rang a 3 at her school, Scoil Éinne, An Spidéal, this September.  Lucy’s older sister Orla (11) is going into Rang a 5 in the same school.

Lucy continues to be full of life and full of fun, with a busy schedule of school, activities, play dates and birthday parties.

She made her First Holy Communion in April of this year and we had a wonderful day of celebrations to mark her momentous milestone. And she did herself and us all so proud by walking to the altar in her walker with all of her classmates.

We had a big party at home for our family and friends and sun shone for Lucy’s special day.  Lucy danced and bounced all day to the music in the Disco Dome bouncy castle.

Some big news for our family was the arrival in February 2014 of Lucy and Orla’s little sister Annie.  Lucy is delighted not to be the youngest anymore!  Annie is a lively little lady with a head of blonde curls and she has kept us all very busy!

Lucy is a very patient big sister and has helped us to explain to Annie how she must be gentle with her, this has been more of a challenge as they are now the same size, despite the age gap.

Lucy has asked a lot of questions about Annie’s size and is now old enough to understand that her own small size is because of her fragile bones but that she can still strive to achieve all of her goals as a smaller person.

Lucy’s fragile bones have to be looked after to ensure they grow straighter and stronger, so she continues to have her infusions every three months of pamidronate, a bone-strengthening medicine, under the kind care of the staff at St Bernadette’s Paediatric Unit in University Hospital, Galway.

Lucy has also had several rodding surgeries, where a metal rod is inserted into her long bones to straighten and strengthen them. She attends Crumlin for these surgeries under the care of her wonderful orthopaedic surgeon Jacques Noel.

Lucy now has telescoping rods in both of her femurs, these grow with her as she grows. She is currently waiting to have the rods in her tibias replaced with telescoping rods too.

Lucy also had one of her arms rodded with a telescoping rod last November, this was done in Sheffield Children’s Hospital in the UK, where she was looked after by Mr James Fernandes, an excellent orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in upper limb surgery.

These surgeries usually result in missed school time for Lucy, but she is very brave and works very hard with her rehabilitation and physiotherapy so she gets back to her friends at school as quickly as possible.  She also keeps up with her schoolwork when in hospital and recovering at home.

Lucy continues to receive Personal Assistant hours from Enable Ireland and she has been lucky enough to have had the same amazing PA for many years now.

We have a very close relationship with Lucy’s PA Fiona Boyle, and she provides Lucy with immeasurable help and support each week.

In the past two years, Fiona has supported Lucy in attending a local children’s art class after school every Tuesday.  She also brings Lucy to some of her appointments and often supports her at swimming lessons.

Hydrotherapy is a particularly important form of rehab for Lucy and helps her to recover from both fractures and surgeries.

We had a very special family holiday to Disneyland Paris last November, where Lucy got to meet a Disney Princess and all her favourite characters and enjoy so much fun and excitement all day long, at the parade every evening and at the fireworks each night.

Lucy’s favourite things are swimming, art, playdates with her friends, playing Minecraft with her sister and minder Amy, Sylvanian families, Ever After High and watching Full House on Netflix!

Lucy accesses her school-aged therapy services at Enable Ireland Galway, where she receives physiotherapy, occupational therapy, assistive technology support – including school staff liaison – and orthotics reviews.

The multidisciplinary team liaise with Lucy’s paediatricians and surgeons locally in UHG, in Crumlin and in Sheffield Children’s Hospital.  We are lucky to have a team that are so dedicated to their work in helping Lucy to reach her full potential.

Every day is a big adventure with Lucy.  She has a vivid imagination, a sparkling sense of humour and she loves to play most of all.

Lucy has taught us that life needn’t be so serious, she is definitely a girl that just wants to have fun!

■ Enable Ireland’s national fundraising and awareness week, No Limits, takes place all this week, running until Sunday and raising much needed funds for the Enable Ireland Galway service.   You can support by purchasing the Enable Ireland kite-branded merchandise at TK Maxx store, the Enable Ireland shop on High Street or from any of their on-street sellers.


‘Positive response’ to plan for new Wolfe Tone walkway



From the Galway City Tribune – The submissions process in relation to the new pedestrian walkway to be put in place on the south side of Wolfe Tone Bridge has now closed.

The project – estimated to cost in the region of €1 million – is expected to start later this year once the Part 8 planning process – where the councillors will ultimately decide on whether to proceed – has been completed.

It will involve the provision of a 50-metre steel cantilever (no centre supports) walkway on the southern aspect of Wolfe Tone Bridge as well as a widening of the existing adjoining footpath.

A feature of the proposal will be the provision of a new signalised ‘rainbow pride’ pedestrian crossing on the eastern approach to the bridge.

According to Galway City Council Senior Engineer, Uinsinn Finn, the new pedestrian bridge crossing will be a major positive development in terms of facilitating the increasing numbers of people walking from the city centre towards the Claddagh/West area of the city.

“There has been a very positive response to the proposal for the provision of this extra pedestrian facility which will complement a similar walkway on the northern side of the bridge.

“The new signalised rainbow pride crossing on the eastern side of the bridge will also make it safer and improve access for pedestrians using this route,” said Mr Finn.

He added that the proposal would probably be coming up for approval at the September meeting of the City Council with plans for the new structure to begin shortly after.

The Galway City Tribune is in shops every Friday, or to buy online HERE

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Galway Greenway plan moves up a gear



The design phase of the Galway to Oughterard Greenway will begin in 2023, Galway County Council has confirmed.

Several potential routes are now ‘on the table’ – with the information website for the project now ‘gone live’ until mid-July – to enable all interested parties to look at the options and make submissions.

David Joyce, Engineer with Aecom Consultants, said that the preferred route for the greenway was likely to emerge in the first quarter of 2023 followed by the design phase later in the year.

He told Conamara area councillors at a meeting that a cycle track would be part of the greenway – three metres wide for most of the route widening to five metres closer to the city.

Initially, the potential routes would have 200 metre corridors to ‘capture everything’, said Mr Joyce, but that width would be reduced in the final preferred option.

In response to queries from a number of councillors, he said that at least two to three of the options did not envisage using the current N59 roadway for the greenway.

“There will be extensive face-to-face consultations with the public before any decision on the final preferred route,” said Mr Joyce.

County Councillor Noel Thomas (FF) said that in his view it would be better if the greenway did not use the existing roads network while Cllr Eileen Mannion (FG) asked about the necessity for 200-metre-wide corridor options.

Cllr Tom Welby (Ind.) said that the Clifden to Oughterard section of the greenway would be using the old railway line route which only involved a corridor width of about 50 metres.

In the city, Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) said the project would serve as a route for cyclists and also as a tourist attraction.

“The delivery of the Conamara to Galway Greenway will bring so many benefits to Galway City and County. This week, this project moved a step closer and I hope there is progressive engagement with all stakeholders in the coming months.

“URDF (Urban Regeneration and Development Fund) funding was received last year for the development of a bridge along the pillars of the old Clifden Railway line at Woodquay. This is the proposed landing point for the Greenway coming into Galway city.

“This project can serve as both an active travel route for cyclists and also a major tourist attraction for visitors and I just hope it can progress and be delivered in the coming years,” said Cllr Hoare.

A total of €11 million in URDF funding was allocated last year for a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Corrib – along the buttresses for the old Clifden railway line, which is regarded as forming an integral part of the city’s cycle network.

(Image: an architect’s impression of how that cycle and walkway over the Corrib would look).

The Galway City Tribune is in shops every Friday, or to buy online HERE

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Public order offences on the rise in Galway



From the Galway City Tribune – Galway is headed in the wrong direction unless anti-social behaviour and public order problems are sorted, a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee has been told.

Former mayor Mike Crowe said: “There are too many people begging; there are too many people sleeping rough; and there are too many people drinking on the corner of the streets, organised drinking.”

The Fianna Fáil councillor said he was not surprised that the official Garda crime report had confirmed that public order offences detected in the first five months of this year were up by 26%.

That represented 46 additional cases compared with last year, bringing the total number of public order offences in the first five months of 2022 in Galway City to 225.

“It needs to be addressed; I think Galway is on a precipice,” he said.

Cllr Crowe said that the City Council, through various housing charities, had provided ample resources to ensure that homeless people were accommodated.

“There is no need to be sleeping rough,” he said. He added there was no need for tents to be erected along the city’s main shopping thoroughfare by rough sleepers.

Another former mayor, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) agreed and suggested that some people who were sleeping rough were not homeless as all, and they were involved in ‘organised begging’. He claimed that many of those sleeping rough ‘were all gone off the streets by 3am and 4am’ when revellers have gone home. “They’re making a living at it [begging]”, he said.

Chair of the JPC, Cllr Níall McNelis (Lab) said if anyone had evidence that begging was being carried out by an organised gang then they needed to supply that information to Gardaí.

Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley agreed and said that evidence not rumour was needed in order to bring prosecutions and secure convictions.

Cllr Crowe and Cllr Fahy said the Garda presence at Eyre Square, 24-hours every day, was having a positive impact, and Chief Supt Curley said public order offences have reduced in the city centre since that additional resource was deployed to the Square.

Cllr Fahy, however, said that “public drinking and public urination” remained a problem.

Cllr Crowe welcomed a commitment from Superintendent Damien Flanagan, who was now responsible for policing Galway City, that a “permanent presence of Gardaí is in place in Eyre Square” and would remain there.

Supt Flanagan clarified that that meant a Garda or Gardaí would be in Eyre Square “at all times”.

He also said he was liaising with Galway City Council on some design issues in Eyre Square that could be changed to deter anti-social behaviour and discourage people from congregating there for drinking.

Chief Supt Curley said that he would prefer to use the Gardaí elsewhere but he acknowledged that a 24/7 Garda presence in Eyre Square was working, and would be deemed a success if it saved even one victim from suffering a serious assault.

There were 17 offences of ‘begging’ detected in the first five months of the year, down 29%.

Cllr Niall Murphy (Green) said begging in itself was “not a crime”, it was “a failure of society”.

The offence relates to people who are causing an obstruction or nuisance while begging; begging beside an ATM is also an offence.

The Galway City Tribune is in shops every Friday, or to buy online HERE

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