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Connacht Tribune

Galway Coroner’s Court hears of five suicide cases in five-month period

Stephen Corrigan

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Coroner for Galway West Dr. Ciaran MacLoughlin: sympathised with family over tragedy.

A 14-year-old boy died by suicide at a time when everything in his life was just “falling into place”, the Coroner for West Galway was told last week.

This was just one of five cases of death by suicide to come before the Coroner Dr Ciarán MacLoughlin over a two-day period last week – all of which happened between May and September of last year.

The Coroner’s Court heard evidence into the deaths of two men, a school boy and a young woman, all of whom died by hanging – and one retired woman who died following the ingestion of a toxic substance.

The young boy, who was just days short of his 15th birthday, had been in “good form” in the weeks before his death and there had been no sign of what was to come.

His mother told the inquiry that he had recently been diagnosed with Dyslexia and good supports had been put in place at school.

She said the boy, who just gone back to school where he was starting third year, was an “angel” at home – happy once he was able to cook and clean.

He had stayed home to clean on the day he died, deciding just before the rest of his family left, that he did not want to accompany them to a child’s birthday party.

When his mother returned home around two hours later, she found her son in a non-responsive state and alerted emergency services. He was pronounced dead soon after.

Dr MacLoughlin found, in accordance with the medical evidence, that his death was caused by asphyxia due to hanging, and expressed his sincere condolences on what he described as “the very tragic and sad circumstances of this young man’s death”.

In another case, the court heard how a woman her sixties had attempted two previous overdoses at her home before ingesting a highly toxic substance ten weeks before she died in University Hospital Galway.

The woman, who was single, had emergency surgery to treat the damage to her gullet caused by the substance. However, the irreversible damage to her organs led to her condition deteriorating and she died in ICU from pneumonia, brought on by the ingestion of the substance.

A relative told the Inquest that the woman had been diagnosed with a personality disorder six months previously, but that up until then there had been no signs of any mental illness.

Dr MacLoughlin returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence describing it as “a very tragic outcome”.

Evidence was heard of a 19-year-old woman who died by suicide who was found dead by her brother at the family home.

Despite various attempts to resuscitate her, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Coroner heard evidence of a man in his fifties who died as a result of asphyxiation at his home in the west of the county.

It was recorded that the man had not been seen for two days before he was discovered by his brother who became concerned about his well-being, having not heard from him.

In accordance with medical evidence, the Coroner ruled that the cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging.

The death of a man in late 40s who went missing for four days and was later found dead in a wooded area, was as a result of asphyxiation, Dr MacLoughlin ruled upon hearing the report of the consultant pathologist.

Manager of Pieta House on Merchants Road, Galway City, Marie Whyte, told the Galway City Tribune that even one death by suicide is one too many – and implored people to seek help if they are in any doubt over their mental wellbeing.

“If you are in any doubt, don’t wait – just come in to us, or call us. It always helps – the talking therapy helps because it takes a load off,” said Ms Whyte.

“We need to be getting that message out to young people and we’re doing that thorough the Resilience Academy in schools. That’s about teaching resilience and to be more aware of mental health – and to reduce the stigma around it,” she added.

Ms Whyte said that statistics and numbers can sometimes be misleading, but it was important to remember that every person who dies by suicide is a human being and another life lost.

■ Anyone affected by the issues raised in this article can contact Pieta House on (091) 502921 or 1800 247 247; or Samaritans on 116 123.

Connacht Tribune

Homemade Wimbledon is a different bale game!

Francis Farragher

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James Craughwell about to serve over the tape – and the sheep gates – to brother Christopher with mum, Anne, in the background. The family dog Prince is showing a keen interest in taking up the role of ‘ball boy’. The brollies on the deck chairs were actually purchased at the Wimbledon tournament that the Craughwells attended in 2017.

WIMBLEDON mightn’t be happening for the tennis professionals this year due to COVID-19 – but one North Galway family are planning their own version of the tournament.

The younger members of the Craughwell family in Menlough village have had a tradition over the years of lining out their own court on the silage slab that’s available for recreation purposes during the early weeks of the Summer.

The three sons of Jarlath and Anne Craughwell – Christopher, Shane and James – rarely missed the opportunity through the years to ‘get the silage slab ready’ for their own Wimbledon tournament.

“The dimensions of the silage slab are almost exactly the same as a tennis court [78 feet X 36 feet} so back the years we always organised our own games. When the silage was made, then that was always it for another year,” Christopher Craughwell told the Connacht Tribune.

As the lads grew older the summer tennis court hadn’t been used for a few years but in 2020 with the introduction of the coronavirus restrictions, it seemed like a perfect time to bring it back.

“This year we took it a stage further. We used the sheep gates for the net with a line of white electric fence tape along the top so this is probably the best job we’ve ever made of it.

“The silage won’t be made for at least another month so were planning to stage our own family tournament over the coming weeks. With the weather so good, it’s been a great way to pass the time,” said Christopher.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

City Council houses Travellers in county

Declan Tierney

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Cllr Donagh Killilea.

Galway City Council will spend close to half a million euro to house a Traveller family – in a property well outside its own local authority boundary.

Instead the family of four, who previously lived on the Carrabrowne halting site, will be accommodated in the house at Kiltulla near Carnmore, which is deep in Galway County Council’s local government area.

The City Council is understood to have paid €388,000 for the property which will require another €50,000 to refurbish – leaving little change out of half a million euro.

Angry residents, who were unaware of the plan, have now organised a petition to City Council CEO Brendan McGrath to voice their objection to the move.

But Cllr Donagh Killilea believes that there is a bigger issue at stake – with Galway City Council acquiring property wherever they like.

And Senator Ollie Crowe said that he believed the City Council – of which he was a member up to his Seanad election – should be acquiring property within their own area and that this acquisition was ‘unprecedented’.

He said that it was his view that there would be nothing bought outside the city boundary and that the money spent on this property would refurbish a lot of the City Council’s housing stock that had fallen into a state of dilapidation.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Long drives still out of bounds for golfers

Declan Tierney

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Teeing off from the 12th tee at Galway Bay Golf Resort in Oranmore this week on the re-opening of golf courses around the country. There is nothing to suggest that any golfers travelled more than 5km to play in Oranmore. Photo: Keith Kelly.

This week’s relaxation of travel restrictions saw an exodus to the garden centres and the golf courses – but Gardaí have this week reiterated their warning to those planning to excede their five kilometre limit that they may find themselves in the heavy rough.

The first phase of a return to ‘normality’ went to plan, despite the early rush to newly reopened facilities. Even the rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of furloughed golfers, who were on the first tee from daylight.

Time sheets for golf clubs across the county were choc-a-bloc as they opened their doors to members for the first time since the end of March – but many clubs privately admitted that more than half of those who played had travelled way beyond the 5k restriction.

That led Gardaí to warn that they will be mounting checkpoints and turning people back home – adding that the golf clubs themselves have a responsibility to advise members on the travel rules.

Tuam Sergeant Pat Hastings confirmed that Gardaí had the power under the Health Preservation and Protection Act 2020 to turn back individuals travelling more than 5k from their homes.

He warned that a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with anyone who continually breached the regulations.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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