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Connacht Tribune

Galway Mosque opens its doors in wake of attack

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Galway’s Muslim community responded to a wanton act of vandalism on its Maryam Mosque in the best way possible – by throwing open its doors to Galwegians of all faiths and none. Reporter Paul Hyland joined them to see more.

The first thing that strikes you in the sense of openness and light; walking into the Galway Maryam Mosque, I was warmly welcomed by people – young and old, men and women, Muslims and Christians.

The Mosque held a community open day to show people their place of worship, to help them understand what it really means to be a Muslim and to undo the false assumptions about Islamic people.

The open day was organised in the wake of the act of vandalism that was carried out on the Mosque – an attack that may have been seen in some warped mind as a response to the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

The first thing I was struck by was jovial atmosphere at the Mosque. It was everything you would expect from a typically Irish event. There were children of all backgrounds chasing each other around the grounds; oblivious of the context in which this event was being held.

Sr Chanel (left) and Sr Evelyn of the Presentation Sisters, Athenry, are greeted by members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community during their visit to the open day at the Maryam mosque on the Old Monivea Road, Ballybrit.

Dr Mamoon Rashid moved to Ireland in 1999. Originally from the UK, Dr Rashid explained the key principles of Islam to me; how his people worship and how Islam doesn’t allow anyone who carries out acts of violence to consider themselves a real Muslim.

“A mosque is a place of worship for the Muslim community, where we come to pray five times a day and it’s all about having a relationship with God. It’s a relationship that is based on love and following the teachings of Islam which are basically two things, one is the rights of people and the other is the rights of God,” he said.

“So if you’re praying five times a day, a Muslim man or woman should become a really good human being. And that’s why when we talk about the terrorist we say that they cannot be Muslims.

“Because if you pray as a Muslim, the rights of human beings are first. So if you are not performing those rights you cannot be a Muslim. The prayer doesn’t work. You have your own false gods or ignorance, you have false gods of pride, you have false gods of violence,” continued Dr Rashid.

As you enter the Mosque the amount of light in the prayer hall – even on a typically overcast Galway day – is the clearest metaphor for the closeness to God that Dr Rashid and his community strive for.

The hallway leading into the prayer hall was decorated with posters and books filled with information about Islam. Here visitors and their hosts chatted about religion, community, family and the importance of these types of all-inclusive events.

More than one person remarked on the sense of shame they felt when the Mosque was attacked.

Qanita Noonan, Faheen Noonan and Zarin Rashid of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community meeting with Paul and Siobhan Lawless and their son Cian of the Foods of Athenry during the open day in the Maryam mosque on the Old Monivea Road, Ballybrit.

One interaction, in particular, encapsulated the true community spirit of Galway as an elderly Irish man was putting back on his shoes. Three men from the Mosque came to his assistance. They got him a chair and put on his shoes for him.

The man responded simply by saying: “Thank you very much and I’m terribly sorry for what they did to your church.”

Imam Ibrahim Noonan is the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslims in Ireland. Originally from Waterford, Imam Noonan converted to Islam while studying theology in London.

He has a unique understanding of what it means to be painted with the wrong brush. During the 1980s, while living in London, Imam Noonan came under scrutiny – as did most Irish people – due to the IRA bombings in the UK.

Now, a devout Muslim, Imam Noonan is coming under the same racially-motivated judgment because of acts of terror that are no more associated with him than the IRA ones were previously.

“At that time every Irish person [in the UK] was considered a potential terrorist. Of course, that wasn’t the case and that is the exact same case with Muslims.

“There’s about 80,000 Muslims living in Ireland, so 99.999% of them would have no desire to be anything like these people on London bridge and so, therefore, their feeling the same anxiety that the Irish would have felt at that time,” said Imam Noonan.

“The Galway people are brilliant. The last few days has proven it; since this nonsense has happened here,” continued Imam Noonan.

The pressure Muslim people feel when an act of terror is committed in the name of Allah is what Imam Noonan describes and an “inner guilt,” and the need to constantly explain themselves.

What I saw last Saturday was the farthest thing from the events on London Bridge. I saw incredibly polite men and women, who showed respect and kindness each other and their visitors.

There were hugs and handshakes abound and an honest effort from Galway residents to make help the Muslims community feel welcome.

Sisters Chanel and Evelyn – nuns from the Presentation Convent in Athenry – were two such locals there to lend their support the Galway Muslim community.

“I know the Imam’s wife very well, she comes up to the resource centre, in Doughishka, and I just wanted to show some solidarity. I was sorry for what happened,” said Sr Chanel.

Support came also in the shape of Galway West TD Noel Grealish who had this message for the Muslim community in Galway.

“We have a good vibrant Muslim community in Galway and they’re part of our community and a lot of them are business people and provide a lot of jobs,” he said.

And it’s a relationship that works both ways – with Galway’s Muslim community anxious to emphasise its openness to people of all faiths and none.

Or as Imam Noonan put it: “Islam is a religion of peace. I’m here all the time. Come and visit the Mosque. If you have questions about Islam or about why these things are happening, I’m always ready to answer the questions and understand that the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is here to serve the people of Ireland.”

As I was about to leave I was a stopped by a young man who invited me for tea with the organisers.

I thanked him and but said I was on my way out. He was having none of it and seconds later I was sitting down at a table with biscuits, cake and tea laid out in front me.

And what could be more Irish than that?

Connacht Tribune

Atlantic Therapeutics takes top award for medical breakthrough

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The overall winner of this year’s Irish Times Innovation of the Year award is Galway-based Atlantic Therapeutics, which also won the Life Sciences and Healthcare category. Pictured presenting the category award is Dr Ciaran Seoighe, Deputy Director General Science Foundation Ireland with Atlantic Therapeutics’ Richard Allen, Danny Forde, Dr Ruth Maher, Christina Walsh and Brendan McCormack. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

The Galway based med-tech company Atlantic Therapeutics has won the Irish Times ‘Innovation of the Year Award 2019’ – for developing a non-invasive, long lasting solution to bladder weakness and other disorders associated with pelvic floor muscle problems.

As many as one in three women and one in ten men suffer from urinary incontinence, primarily due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. The condition often goes untreated and unreported due to the embarrassment involved and the stigma felt by patients.

Atlantic Therapeutics’ innovative device – aptly called Innovo – is similar in style and feel to a pair of cycling shorts and works by strengthening and rebuilding the pelvic floor muscles.

Earlier this year the company, which is based in Parkmore Business Park, raised €28 million in investment ahead of a move into the US, just months after receiving FDA approval for its flagship Innovo technology platform.

Global Product Manager Danny Forde said the company was proud and humbled to be chosen as the Innovation of the Year for 2019.

“This win is recognition of the enormous collective effort our team has made around the world; from our Galway HQ to our offices in the US, UK, France & Germany, together with the strong support of our suppliers, partners, distributors, investors, advisors and most importantly of all, our customers,” he said.

“It’s a significant milestone in our mission to help millions of people restore their pelvic health and thereby their control, confidence and active lifestyle.

“We’ve heard from previous winners about the amazing impact that the Innovation of the Year Award can have, and we’ve already had an overwhelming reaction – it’s been a whirlwind!” he added.

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Connacht Tribune

MedTech recruiters are Guaranteed Irish

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Pale Blue Dot Recruitment on a recent visit to Cope Headquarters on the Tuam Road. The team raised over €1000 running the Streets of Galway and through various social media competitions. Pictured are (from left) Lynia O'Brien of Cope Galway, Anthony Griffin, Patrick Hughes, Olivia Kennedy and Sohini Mitra.

A Galway-based recruitment agency has been awarded the Guaranteed Irish symbol – following its pioneering partnership with COPE.

Pale Blue Dot Recruitment currently operates from Galway city centre and has become heavily involved in the local community. This year, the business partnered with COPE Galway as their Charity of the Year. A number of fundraising events for the charity were sponsored by Pale Blue Dot Recruitment, who also donated generously to the charity throughout the year.

Pale Blue Dot Recruitment works in professional placement for the MedTech industry, and is now connected with more than 50 percent of the professional MedTech workforce in the country.

Pale Blue Dot Recruitment joins 16 other Guaranteed Irish business members in Galway, including Stira, Revive Active, Hatman of Ireland and the WifOR Institute.

“Playing a role in the community and supporting local is something that Pale Blue Dot Recruitment holds very highly,” said MD Anthony Griffin. “COPE Galway provides so many services to the local community, supporting those who are in need most. We are delighted to support COPE Galway for the foreseeable future through various fundraising and awareness initiatives,” he added.

Guaranteed Irish is one of Ireland’s most enduring, recognisable and authentic symbols of trust. The business membership organisation has a network of 600+ members nationwide across various sectors, supporting over 71,390 jobs with an annual combined turnover of €11.2 billion to the Irish economy.

The Guaranteed Irish symbol helps Irish consumers identify products and services that are a better choice for jobs and local communities in Ireland.

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Connacht Tribune

Silke’s runs and scores proving a trump card for Corofin

Stephen Glennon

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Corofin's Liam Silke, in action against Matthew Kilgannon of Claregalway, has been central to the club's ongoing great success story.

IF there is one player who can light up a game — or turn said game on its head — then it is Galway’s and Corofin’s attacking defender Liam Silke.

A medical student at UCD, Silke undertakes his forays up field with surgical precision, underlined when he cut in behind the Ballintubber defence to goal in Corofin’s recent Connacht SFC semi-final victory. In a game that finished 1-10 to 0-11, Silke’s strike proved to be the deepest cut.

In many respects, the score summed up Liam Silke and what he brings to the game. So many times, he has done this for Corofin and Galway that it marks the designated defender out as one of Gaelic football’s most exciting players.

“Yeah, it is definitely something I try to do,” acknowledges the 24-year-old. “To be able to attack as well as defend is very important, to be able to contribute at both ends of the pitch. It just comes naturally to me; it is not something I think of too much. It is just something that happens in that I start making a run and I am happy enough to keep going forward.

“Thankfully, the (Corofin) players around me are able to cover and we are able to interchange. That makes it a whole lot easier. It can be a little bit of a gamble, but sometimes it pays off. Kevin O’Brien (manager) will always say when we have the ball we are 15 attackers, and when we don’t have the ball we are 15 defenders.

“So, it is encouraged by the management; they are always encouraging everyone to go out and play and express themselves. Also, I think the days of playing at corner back and just staying in the corner are kind of gone. Players can be coached and can be encouraged to be more attack minded, and can be given the licence to go out and do what they think is right.”

While Silke is enjoying his football at present, there are times when he finds it difficult to balance all — be it club and county, or football and his studies. These days approaching Christmas exams are always demanding.

“I am in college in UCD — I have two years left; I am on placement at the moment — and I have exams next week. So, the preparation isn’t ideal,” he notes. “You do get sick of the motorway after a while, but when you are coming home to play with Corofin and win county championships it makes it worthwhile.”

Whenever he finishes up with Corofin in this current campaign, he will return to inter-county duty with Galway. This, too, will place its own demands on him. He admits it can be difficult to carve out a little time and space for himself.

“It is not easy to get a break. It is just the way the GAA season is. It is not ideal, but there aren’t many clubs still going at the moment. So, it is kind of hard to find the right way to manage the calendar that it will work for everyone.

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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