For 291 Galway families, the Ronald McDonald House beside Crumlin Children’s Hospital has been a home away from home during the most stressful period of their lives.
Grateful families who have availed of the facility since it opened 12 years ago are now fundraising to build a new €16m accommodation complex on the site of the new children’s hospital at St James’s Hospital, due to open in 2020.
The Donald family from Roscahill have lived in the Ronald McDonald House for five months over the past three years since twins Cate and Ciarán were born.
Cate was diagnosed at 20 weeks’ gestation with complex congenital heart disease. At 30 weeks, mum Caroline had to rent an apartment in Dublin to ensure she would deliver in Dublin where more specialised medics were based.
A week after Cate was born at 36 weeks in July 2013, she underwent open heart surgery, weighing just 4.5 pounds.
Ciarán had a few problems and was kept in the High Dependency Unit in the Coombe, while Cate was born in the Coombe but transferred immediately to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.
“We moved into the Ronald McDonald House with our newborn baby and took it in turns to go from the house to the ward which was a stone’s throw away. My baby was dying and you didn’t want to leave the hospital grounds, but at the same time you have to mind the other kids. We had no friends or family in Dublin – it was an absolutely crucial service,” recalls Caroline.
“We were back in again for a second open heart major surgery the following January. At night you’re so tired after spending 17/18 hours on the ward, so emotionally drained as all the kids in there are very, very sick.
“You’re shook to the core. Here was a place you’d come back to where you’d have a cooked dinner, you could get the laundry done, you wouldn’t have to go off grocery shopping.”
Staff and volunteers go out of their way to offer support to stressed families, organising special occasion evenings such as candlelit dinners on Valentine’s Day and beauty therapies on Mother’s Day to give a little boost.
An outdoor and indoor play area allows siblings to retain some sort of normalcy during the hospital stay while families have access to a communal lounge and dining room.
Cate returned for her third major surgery this year, with some more minor procedures earmarked for the near future. She attends University Hospital Galway once a week with regular check-ups in Dublin. Eventually she will have to undergo a heart transplant.
Baby Patrick was born within a year of the twins so it’s been all hands on deck for the Donalds.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms
Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.
The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.
A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.
Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.
Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.
The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.
“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.
“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”
Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.
“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.
The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools
Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.
“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.
“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.
A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
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.