“I have a child again.” That was the response of one parent to Chairman of the 14th Galway Scouts, Brendan O’Gorman, after their son returned from an outdoor adventure with the group last summer.
It was that response for Brendan that epitomised the impact lockdown was having on children – and the importance of the outdoors to restoring their wellbeing.
The 14th Galway group, which has boys and girls of all ages up to 18 involved, has become synonymous with the outdoors for that reason, as Brendan explains.
“In the first lockdown last spring, we’d been doing as much as we could online. That was more so to keep the teenagers connected, but it doesn’t work for the younger ones. It’s really just not the same.
“Then, in the summer, when restrictions eased a bit, we got them all outdoors. We were able to bring our older groups on 10-day outdoor experiences and what we were noticing was they were exhausted after the first day of activities,” says Brendan.
As the days went on, he describes it as being like ‘a weight was lifted off their shoulders’.
“They seemed to find the whole living within so many rules very tiring. After the 10 days, they were running around like normal kids. Our normal experience is that they’re full of enthusiasm at the beginning and calm down as it goes on – but this flipped it on its head,” says Brendan.
As a result of Covid restrictions, a decision was taken by the group to focus its energy on the outdoors – investing in tents and returning to what the Scouts has always been about like camping, hiking and outdoor survival skills, he continues.
“By us being active last year, we have seen our numbers grow by 27%. We have had a queue of children and adults wanting to get involved. As time went on, the message was getting stronger that we were safe out in the parks.”
The children and teenagers already involved were going back to their friends, spreading the word and spurring more and more to join.
There was a noticeable improvement in the children’s sociability as the summer went on, says Brendan a welcome sight for parents and volunteers who had seen children go into their shell as they tried to cope with months trapped indoors.
“We operated all through the summer and as the evenings drew in from October, we started meeting on Sunday afternoons rather than weekday evenings. We would have kept going right through January and February, but for the restrictions that came in at Christmas.
Making their return as the latest batch of restrictions eased, small groups were able to meet at Shantalla Park where Brendan says they will continue to meet over the coming weeks and months.
“Last year, we only got to do away trips for the older groups, but this year we have plans for camps in July for all age groups. We’re staying a bit closer to home than we might normally, because there are a lot of new members who mightn’t be as comfortable to be away from home.
“We expect to expand further in September. It’s only week two back and we already have people contacting us wanting to join,” says Brendan.
The Scouts as an organisation has been hit, like many others, by Covid – losing volunteers who have had to step out because of health risks has been a particular challenge, says Brendan.
But 14th Galway has bucked the trend with growing numbers.
“The national organisation has a campaign going to increase awareness of what Scouts is about. In Galway, we have ourselves on the west side of the city, the 13th in Renmore and the Sea Scouts and as we’ve seen, it can be such an important outlet for young people,” says Brendan.
For more information on joining Galway 14th Scouts, visit 14thgalway.ie, or for other groups see scouts.ie.
No monkeypox cases recorded so far in Galway
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) has had no reports of monkeypox infection in Galway so far.
So far, some 97 confirmed cases have been notified in Ireland, including 12 new notifications in the week to July 30.
But none of these cases were notified in the HSE’s CHO2 area which includes Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.
The latest epidemiology report about human monkeypox was released last week.
All of the 97 notified cases in Ireland are males and have a median age of 36.
The sexual orientation of 75 of the men is known, and they self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.
The HSPC said this epidemiology of the infection is similar to other countries.
A total of ten people have been hospitalised with the infection; four of them required clinical care for monkeypox infection while two were admitted for observation.
The HSE said monkeypox is a very uncommon infection that produces a spotty, itchy and sore rash, and sometimes a fever.
It is caused by a monkeypox virus which is naturally found in some animals in Africa. The HSE said it was in the news now because there have been several thousand cases of monkeypox in countries where the virus is not found naturally, including Ireland.
It is spread through close contact, including sexual contact, but it can be picked up through contact with objects touched by an infected person such as sheets.
Monkeypox symptoms can appear in two stages. The first stage usually begins with a sudden onset of fever and chills, followed by a bad headache, swollen glands and exhaustion. There may also be muscle ache, backache, cough and runny nose, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Not everyone with monkeypox has these initial symptoms.
One to three days after the fever starts, an itchy rash appears. It may first appear on the face and spread to other parts of the body. Some people may only have a rash and not initial symptoms.
Anyone with symptoms is asked to contact their GP.
Law catches up with Galway parking meter thief years later
From the Galway City Tribune – The long arm of the law stretched back through the years, finally bringing a man to justice this week for stealing almost €3,500 in coins from parking meters in the city six years ago.
42-year-old Ioan Costin, a Romanian national with an address at 20 Brewery Court, Ballinrobe, was taken into custody on July 11 on foot of three separate bench warrants issued for his arrest when he failed to appear before courts in Galway in 2017, and more recently Dublin and Castlebar.
He was facing charges in Galway in 2017 of damaging a parking meter at the Long Walk, belonging to Galway/Aengus Property Management on July 6, 2016, and with stealing €669.90 in coins from the meter on the same date.
He was further charged with stealing €932 in coins from another parking meter at the Docks, the property of Paul Sheridan, c/o Port of Galway, on October 2, 2016, and with damaging that machine on the same occasion.
Costin was brought in custody before Galway District Court on July 18 – a week after the bench warrant was executed – where he pleaded guilty to the above charges and to further charges of damaging four other parking meters at or near the Docks area on various dates between July 4 and 19, 2016.
In all, coins totalling €3,451 were taken from the meters over the four-month period, to which he also pleaded guilty.
In one raid alone, Costin and another man, who was never identified or caught, stole €1,800 in coins from one meter at the Dock Road on July 6, 2016.
He was also found in possession of two screw drivers which he used to force the meters open during one of the July raids.
Both men were captured on CCTV, damaging the meters and stealing the coins, following a Garda investigation into the targeted attacks on parking meters in the Docks area at the time.
Costin made full admissions to Garda Ronan Leonard following his arrest on July 11 last.
He claimed he had a gambling addiction and went straight to Salthill on each occasion with his share of the stolen coins, where he lost them all on slot machines.
Defence barrister, Ernie White explained to Judge Gerard Furlong at the holiday sittings of the court this week that his client was first brought in custody before Galway District Court on July 11 last where he pleaded guilty to the charges and sentence was adjourned to this week’s court.
Sergeant Christy Browne, prosecuting, said Costin had 17 previous convictions, all of which were for thefts and for having implements to commit thefts. The most recent conviction, he said, was recorded at Castlebar Circuit Court on July 15 last where Costin received a three-month sentence for a theft which he committed in May 2020. He had also received suspended sentences at a court in Dublin the previous day for similar thefts and for having screwdrivers to commit thefts in 2017.
Noting Costin had made no attempt to repay the money in the intervening years, Judge Furlong sentenced him to five months in prison for damaging the meter at The Long Walk and imposed a concurrent five-month sentence for the theft of the €3,451. Both sentences were backdated to when the Costin went into custody on July 11. The judge took the remaining charges into account and granted leave to appeal the sentence.
Arts building must be provided in any overhaul of Galway Docks
From the Galway City Tribune – A three-storey structure to accommodate the arts in Galway City could become a reality as part of the regeneration plans for the extensive Inner Harbour site at the Docks.
And Galway Harbour Company has stated that as part of any redevelopment of the site, they are very supportive of the provision of arts and cultural facilities on their lands.
Caroline Phelan, Senior Planner with the City Council, told a Galway City Development Plan (2023-29) discussion that they would consider the provision of 1,500 square metres of arts space on the site by the eventual developer.
And she said that this could involve the construction of a three-storey structure and would be embraced as part of the overall Harbour extension and all councillors present at the meeting welcomed such a move.
Ms Phelan added that any such development would be limited to a certain size and would be done in conjunction with the City Arts Officer. An audit of arts and culture requirements would also be carried out.
The City Development Plan meeting was discussing a submission from the Galway Harbour Company which outlined a proposed masterplan for the overall site which it said would be required.
It is envisaged that the site will be ‘built out’ in two phases and should require a separate masterplan for each phase, in the context of the overall planning framework.
However, as part of this massive plan, it is required the provision of an arts and cultural facility at a developer’s expense and with a management regime incorporated into the development delivery that enables the long-term sustainable use of such a facility.
“Galway Harbour Company are entirely supportive of the provision of arts and cultural facilities on their lands as part of the regeneration of the area and will actively accommodate such facilities.
“However, the requirement as set out in the draft plan is considered to be unduly onerous particularly as our client has no involvement in or expertise in this sector.
“The Galway Harbour Company will make a site available for an arts and cultural facility and will work with all relevant parties to ensure that this facility is delivered and that it is sustainable in the long term.”
It was requested by the Harbour Company that that this requirement would be reworded along the following lines: “Provision will be made within the masterplan for an arts and cultural facility and the delivery and management regime for this facility will be devised in collaboration with Galway City Council and other relevant stakeholders.”
Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) at the outset asked if it would be a small, medium or large artistic facility and inquired if there would be a minimum space available for the arts as part of the Harbour regeneration plans.
But he did express the view that it was a major step towards the provision of such facilities at the Docks and it would “foster artistic purposes”.