A Different View with Dave O’Connell
Is there a more emotive word in the Irish vocabulary than Mammy? It’s not a role or a job or a description; no, it’s a picture in your mind’s eye that brings warmth to the heart and soul – safety, home, comfort, unconditional love.
And this isn’t a lament for other times when parental roles were more gender stereotyped, nor is it a romantic notion of some benevolent version of Mrs Brown, ruling the roost in her pinny surrounded by the smell of fresh bread and jam.
It’s more like the same feeling we get when we mistakenly think that all of our childhood summers were long and full of sunshine; that every day was a play day; when our friends had faces rather than Facebook.
And at the heart of all of those memories – real or romantic – is the Irish Mammy.
You’re equally entitled to talk of your mother or mum or mam (or even mam-ah, if you’ve watched too much Downton Abbey), but nothing quite captures the essence of it all like the Mammy.
She is of course best seen through rose-tinted glasses because she may no longer exist – if indeed this utopian version of her ever did – but in truth this is more about memories of innocent days….of dinners and warmth and hugs and baths and stories and a time without a worry in the whole world.
No disrespect to dads – and I write as one of them – but they rarely conjure up the same images. Which is not to suggest that we are, or were, inferior – because we’re not – but, back in the day at least, a hug from your father wouldn’t be any more shocking than shooting the breeze with a talking dog.
Thankfully today’s Ireland is a more equal place than the one which required women to give up their jobs in the Civil Service, just because they’d married – but that doesn’t mean we can’t look back with a nostalgic sigh.
Not that Irish Mammies were overflowing with love all of the time; they were handy with the wooden spoon too – and not just for making cakes.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Galway Lions roar into festive action!
A Galway charity is once again focussed on the real spirit of Christmas – by raising funds to provide festive vouchers for over 400 families and individuals in need this Yuletide season.
To do that, Galway Lions Club has this week launched four separate fundraising drives – including its annual Radio Auction on Galway Bay Fm.
This annual extravaganza – overseen by ‘auctioneer’ Keith Finnegan and broadcast live on his Galway Talks show – has hundreds of great gifts under the hammer, with the proceeds then helping hundreds of needy families this Christmas.
The #lionsauction2021 will take place on Friday, December 3, between 9am and 12 noon – live on Galway Talks with Keith Finnegan and streamed live on: https://www.facebook.com/GalwayLionsClub.ie
The Lions expect to have over 230 items for sale including weekends away, fuel and food vouchers, tickets to sporting events, shopping vouchers and furniture.
You can bid online from 9am on Tuesday next, November 30, until 12 noon on Friday, December 3, on the auction website at www.galwaylionsclub.ie, or on the day by phone on 091-353250 where lines will be manned throughout the show.
On top of the Radio Auction, they will also be holding cash collections at local supermarkets and shopping centres, as well as a November swim and soft toy raffles – and they are once again appealing to the businesses and people of Galway to help them to help others.
“The Lions Club is a community-based organisation working to help those families in need. We work closely with many local organisations on a joint community basis – sourcing donations from businesses, working with other local charities and organisations and all our volunteers come from a wide spectrum of the local community in Galway,” said Galway Lions President Fergal McAndrew.
“Our joint wish is to give that extra little bit of help that might just make the difference and maybe help families in these tough challenging times. All of this is only possible through the generosity of the people and businesses of Galway,” he added.
The Lions Club Supermarket Collection, year on year, yields circa €18,000 which is a vital contribution to funding club projects – and volunteers are hoping to at least match that again this year.
The cash collections will be evident throughout the city from the last weekend of November and the first two weekends of December.
“Given the restrictions we were faced with relative to our cash collections at supermarkets last year and thankfully to a lesser degree this year, we have looked to iDonate to support our traditional cash collection fundraising efforts,” said Fergal McAndrew.
And one of those iDonate contributors will also win a hotel break at the Delphi 4* hotel and spa. That Draw will take place on December 18, and the winner will be notified by email.
You can also support Galway Lions by buying a line to win one of those big friendly cuddly bears that you will see on display in offices, shops, sports club, gyms and other venues. All the money goes directly to the Christmas appeal.
Galway mum is honoured for her dedication
A young Galway mother – honoured for her commitment to caring – has revealed her frustration over the lack of services for her nine-year-old son who suffers from a rare genetic disorder.
Martina Hynes from Tuam, who was last week named the Galway Family Carer of the Year, says that looking after young Joe is both rewarding – but, at the same time, frustrating because of the lack of support.
She said that she was honoured at having been chosen as the award winner having been nominated by close friend Noreen Ward who is also part of a sporting group that cater for children with needs on a weekend basis.
Martina and husband Dermot from Parkview Drive, Tuam, have – along with other young mothers with children who have challenging conditions – been campaigning for better and more frequent services from the HSE.
Joe was diagnosed with learning difficulties from an early age and was subject to epileptic fits until medication controlled this around a year ago.
While he is attending primary school in Tuam and is part of a local rugby programme for children with challenging conditions, he is full of the joys of life and is looking forward to what mum Martina hopes to be a normal life.
Joseph has SETD1B, a neurodevelopment disorder that includes absent seizures, global development delay, language delay, intellectual disability, autism as well as behavioural issues.
On one occasion, Joe was cycling from his home and wanted to turn a particular direction but was unable to do so and ended up in the middle of traffic on the main road. “He was very lucky,” admitted Martina, who is also the mother to seven-year-old Dylan.
She has subsequently discovered that there are only eight children in the country with Joe’s particular condition and this has intensified her demands for treatment and care for their child.
Martina was nominated by close pal Noreen Ward for the award and said that she was astounded that she was chosen. She added that it wasn’t something that she even contemplated on receiving.
“We just want Joe to have the treatment he deserves and that hopefully he can go on to live a normal life. It is very difficult for him but certainly more manageable with medication.
“However, the occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology and every other treatment he requires has not been available to him for the past two or three years because of Covid.
“That is when it becomes difficult as he desperately needs these services and there is nothing we can do to compensate,” Martina told The Connacht Tribune.
Martina cares for Joe while husband Dermot is a long-distance lorry driver in Dublin but they are hoping that the HSE can provide them with some assistance in the not too distant future.
“Martina is always there to support her friends, helps out at the local inclusion rugby club, and that nothing is too much for her,” said her nominator Noreen.
Joe is a member of the Little Rascals Rugby Club in Tuam which is for kids with physical and psychological challenges, and they were delighted when the then Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt paid them a visit for a training session.
“They will never forget that experience,” Martina recalls.
Galway SVP launches annual appeal as national calls reach record levels
Society of St. Vincent de Paul members made around 18,000 visits to homes in the Galway area last year – spending over €1m per year on direct assistance in the area.
And the charity, which helps with a myriad of practical, emotional and psychological problems, has only seen demand for its service grow under Covid.
That’s according to the Presidents of both Galway branches, as the organisation launched its Annual Appeal this week – predicting that, nationally, calls for help will be at their highest level in its history and could reach almost 200,000 by the end of December.
“We are seeing a lot of people getting in touch who have never needed to before, people whose circumstances have changed due to Covid,” said SVP Galway City East President Frank Leonard. “
We in the SVP have adapted to the new way of doing things and ensuring we are getting to people who need help.”
“The bulk of this goes to helping families with food, energy and education costs. Our volunteers are also involved in Education and Youth Initiatives and work directly with the elderly across Galway City,” he added.
SVP Galway City West President Seamus McManus said that they depend entirely on donations from the public and corporate donors – but, he said, thankfully the generosity of the people of Galway to SVP over the years has been outstanding.
“We hope that the response to this year’s Annual Appeal is as equally generous. The money raised in Galway is used locally and this Annual Appeal will support SVP’s work between now and year end and well into 2022,” he added.
National President Rose McGowan said the fact that the Society has received more calls for help nationally than at any other time in its history – and still managed to provide help – was testimony to the dedication of its volunteers and staff and the incredible support of the Irish public.
“We are facing a perfect storm for families contending with a cost-of-living crisis on multiple fronts. Energy prices are soaring, we are seeing rents rise well beyond what people can afford and increasing transport costs are also putting pressure on low-income households,” she said.
“We are deeply concerned that during the coming months this crisis will come to a head as households are unable to find extra room in the budget for escalating energy costs.
“In those circumstances they will inevitably turn to SVP for help. Need is the only criteria we apply when people seek our help. But to provide that help we need the generous support of the Irish public that we are seeking through this 2021 Annual Appeal.
“We are appealing for donations to be made locally, online or over the phone that will help people through this winter and into the new year,” she added.
The public can help by donating online to www.svp.ie and nominate ‘Galway’, or by phoning 0818 176 176 and again nominating ‘Galway’.
You can also do this by post to SVP, West Region, Ozanam House, St Augustine’s St, Galway, with cheques made payable to Society of St. Vincent de Paul Galway Area – or keep an eye out for special blue envelopes that will be in newspapers, churches and delivered to homes throughout the country.