Date Published: 09-Jun-2011
They say that lightning never strikes twice, but for Peggy Costello, it did. When she was 13 her father died, leaving his widow to rear five children, with Peggy being the second youngest. Then, just after 11 years of marriage, Peggy too was widowed, left alone to bring up four children aged between 10 and seven.
Even today, over 30 years later she gets upset as she talks about her husband’s death and the impact it had on her life.
But, mostly it’s her lively, sparky personality that shines through as she talks about her family and the group she helped to establish in Galway 25 years ago for widowed people.
The Galway branch of the Widowed Persons Benevolent Society of Ireland was set up as a support for men and women, she explains. At that time, there was already a society for widows, but “men need support too” and the aim of the widowed person’s group was to assist anybody who had lost a spouse, whether they were male or female.
The group will mark its 25th anniversary next Thursday, June 16, when a memorial tree will be planted in Salthill’s Millennium Park at 4pm, followed by Mass in the Galway Bay Hotel and a dance later on that evening.
In its 25 years, the group has provided a social outlet for some 400 people who have lost spouses, as well as providing financial assistance and practical advice for widowed people and their families.
Peggy and her fellow members share a common bond – all of them know the loneliness and darkness that comes with being left on your own when the person you love has died. She is a strong woman – and given the knocks she has suffered, it’s just as well.
Peggy’s family came to Galway from Dublin when she was five, after her father who worked with the Board of Works, now the OPW, was moved here.
Then, eight years later her father died. Peggy was one of five and they were like steps of stairs, with the oldest being 16 and the youngest 12. At the time, money was very tight – her mother got £1 a week in a pension.
Peggy, who had been boarding in Kylemore, had to leave school early. She got a job working in the administrative area of building and construction and she worked there until she got married to Vincent Costello from Grange, Turloughmore.
“I was 32 when I got married. I’d never wanted to,” she explains. “He changed my mind for me. He had a lovely personality and a great sense of humour.”
Her husband Vincent worked in the ESB as a truck driver and they met in the long defunct Talk of the Town (on the Headford Road) on the one night she ever went there. They had four children – twins followed by a boy and a girl with about three years between the oldest and youngest.
Vincent’s death was totally unexpected, making Peggy’s loss even more difficult to bear.
On December 15 1980, he came home for lunch and returned to work afterwards.
Three hours later a representative from the ESB called to her door to tell her he had been killed in a work accident, she recalls, visibly upset at the memory. It takes no effort to imagine what their Christmas must have been like that year. It was awful, she says, and it has never been the same, even 31 years’ later.
When Vincent died their children were 10, nine and seven
The family lived in Renmore at the time and she was lucky enough to have good back-up, especially from her mother and sister who lived in Furbo.
Financially she was fine, because there was a government pension and an ESB pension. The personnel officer from the semi-state organisation advised her on her entitlements and what she needed to do.
The Costellos had a Corporation loan on their Renmore house – it was in her husband’s name because, at that time, that’s how things were. But Peggy had always been used to managing the family finances and, so handling those kinds of things presented no problem. But she was lonely.
“I don’t know how I coped. I suppose the kids kept me going, they were small and with me all the time after they’d come home from school.”
But she was the only person responsible for them, and that was stressful. “I had to make every decision for them, to do with school and what have you and it was very traumatic at the time.”
Eventually her doctor recommended counselling for both Peggy and the children and that was “terrific”.
“It gave the kids an insight into what I was going through, as well as what they were going through after their father died.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.