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Man who helped found the Order of Malta in Galway

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Bernard Shapiro enjoyed a longer retirement than what most people spend in a job and by the time he had retired he had left two legacies in the city, having helped found the local Order of Malta branch and the Renmore Soccer Club.

OBITUARY

The popular, kindly gentleman passed away in December at the ripe old age of 95 in the Galway Clinic after a short illness. He had a surgical procedure a few weeks previously but had been recovering well at home. In fact, he had enjoyed great health throughout his long life.

He was full of beans and when he retired from his laboratory technician job with the HSE at the age of 65 in 1984, he poured his energies into tending to the family half acre garden in Renmore and to travelling with his wife, Dympna. Those trips included ones to Canada to visit two of their sons and one to Minsk in Russia to search for his roots.

His father, a Russian army man who had once taken part in a guard of honour for the then Tsar, walked into Maloneys pub in Woodquay and laid eyes on the landlord’s daughter, Ellen Maloney of Moycullen, and decided she was ‘the one’.

They reared their family in Abbeygate Street. Bernard was their only son. By the time he met the love of his live, Dympna, a Dubliner, he had already been one of the first 12 schoolboy recruits into the Order of Malta ambulance corps which was established in Galway in 1938 by Professor Conor O’Malley, an eye surgeon in the old Central Hospital, now UHG. Bernard was the last surviving member of that first group of recruits.

It was through the Order of Malta that he met his future wife. She travelled to Galway with her friend, who was a member of the Order in Dublin, to take part in First Aid Competitions and it was love at first sight. Then it became a serious correspondence between Galway and Dublin until they decided to tie the knot.

They were one of the first couples to move to Renmore, then one of the first housing estates in the city, where they reared their seven children.

When his sons started taking an interest in sport, he decided to set up a soccer club in their local community and he stayed with it for years and became the club’s lifelong president. He had played a bit of soccer himself but his interests were in rugby and rowing.

He was a great mentor to young people and in fact up until he died, he remained young at heart which meant there was no such thing as an age gap when you were in his company.

Bernard, or Ber or Bernie as some called him, became the Second Officer in charge of the Order of Malta in Galway and though he had long stopped ‘active duty’ with them, he kept a keen interest and attended functions and events.

He had worked for twenty years with the hospital lab before taking up a position with the HSE and his family remember him being called to duty in the middle of the night and an ambulance coming to pick him up.

Bernard took a keen interest in everything he did, whether it was raising his family, his job or his voluntary work with the Order and the soccer.

He had a hunger for life and always appeared to have loads of energy, which was inspiring and contagious. Some have described him as having the mind of a genius, a gifted mentor or a brilliant man but everyone seems to remember him as one of life’s true gentlemen.

On his retirement he poured his energies into their half acre garden but never got around to entering for any Tidy Towns Garden competition. His reason for gardening was for its own sake as it kept him busy and beautified a garden that had been used as a playing field by his growing family until they married and moved away; two of them to Canada, two of them to England while the remaining three set down roots in Galway.

He was also proud of his ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Bernard and Dympna had enjoyed almost 61 years of marriage. They celebrated their 50th anniversary with a party in the Ardilaun Hotel and last April marked their 60th in the Connacht Hotel around the corner from their home.

Fr Des Forde, PP of Renmore celebrated Bernard’s life at the Requiem Mass where afterwards the Order of Malta and the Renmore Soccer Club provided a guard of honour before his burial in the New Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife, Dympna, his children, Patrick, Bernard, Aidan, David, Ellen, Therese and Dympna as well as his sister Ida who lives in the UK, extended family and wide circle of friends.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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