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Offering help and hope to Haiti

Stephen Glennon

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Michael Nolan (second from left) at Our Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage in Haiti where he volunteered in 2015. He is pictured with Sr Benito from the orphanage; the Papal Nuncio to Haiti and Scarriff native Fr Eugene Nugent; Westport woman Gena Heraty from the orphanage; and the Papal Nuncio to Sri Lanka, Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Tot.

Lifestyle – Retired teacher Michael Nolan fulfilled a dream in 2015 by volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti. The Ballygar man has now published a book of poems and stories to raise funds for this home and its special-needs facility. He tells STEPHEN GLENNON about Haiti’s troubled past, its current challenges and how this orphanage is a haven for abandoned children in one of the world’s poorest countries.

Essays that lay at the bottom of a dresser drawer for several years have finally been given a home by Ballygar author, Michael Nolan. He has published a collection of stories and poems to raise funds for an orphanage in Haiti where he volunteered in the summer of 2015.

In the book, Memories of Haiti And Other Stories, Michael recounts his time at Our Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage in Kenscoff and some of his recollections are heart-breaking.

One story tells of a boy who died in hospital and the poignant scene when Westport woman Gena Heraty, who runs the orphanage’s special-needs programme, brought his body back there, to be laid to rest.

“I will never forget that,” says Michael. “We went out to meet them on the way in. Gena got out of the truck and you’d think she was about to collapse. He was about 13 or 14 when he died and all his mates, boys and girls, limped over to hug Gena. It was heart-breaking; it was so moving.”

The boy had suffered from various illnesses since birth and had been abandoned at the age of two. He was one of many being cared for at the orphanage and at Kay Cristine, which was the home for the children with special needs.

“That was really inspirational, that house,” says Michael. “Gena Heraty is an amazing woman who has been there about 25 years. She is part of the management now and is hands-on. She would be over the special needs and Kay Cristine is a special house for them, for those people with various ailments, physical and intellectual.

“They are from the ages of five up to 30 and I used to go there in the evenings for prayers. Gena is an inspirational woman. She would go around tucking the children into bed, hugging them, and making sure they were okay,” recalls Michael, who says that, due to Covid, fundraising for the facility has been difficult. “So, every €5 means a lot to them.”

For children who began their lives in abandonment, this care and love must be a shining beacon in a land that harbours a dark history. The size of Munster, Haiti has a population in excess of 10.5 million people.

Michael notes that the French, who colonised Haiti in the 17th Century, ran “one of the most brutally efficient slave colonies” until the population rebelled in what was the world’s first successful slave revolution, between 1791 and 1804. Haiti gained independence, although it had to pay a war debt to France that crippled the country’s economy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash

Enda Cunningham

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A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.

At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.

The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Salthill Garda Station (091) 514 720 the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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Connacht Tribune

Wake-up call as United are pummelled by lively Athlone

Keith Kelly

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Galway United substitute Wilson Waweru who scored a consolation goal in their 3-1 First Division defeat to Athlone Town on Friday night.

Athlone Town 3

Galway United 1

IT turned out to be a Bad Friday for Galway United in Athlone as they were outthought, outfought and outplayed by a home side that deserved a far greater reward than a two-goal victory.

All the damage was done in the first-half, with the home side scoring three goals without reply in a 14-minute spell that left the visitors visibly shell-shocked and in danger of shipping an absolute hammering.

United manager, John Caufield, described the first-half as the worst United display since he took charge at the club midway through last season, but it was worse than that: this was 2011 Sean Connor bad (one win in 40 matches), it was 2001 Dave Connell bad (one win in 13).

Both of those seasons ended in United dropping to the First Division, and the First Division is where they will find themselves against next season unless there is an immediate improvement in performance and attitude, starting with this Friday’s trip to Stradbrook to take on Cabinteely.

The post-mortem examination on last Friday should not solely focus on United’s wretchedness: Athlone Town were hugely impressive in recording a first win over United since May 2006, though it should be noted the sides have met just 13 times since the Town dumped United out of the FAI Cup thanks to a 2-1 win in May 2006, a game that saw the end of Stephen Lally’s reign as United manager.

“Galway playing with three at the back, you know, they’re almost three centre-backs really rather than full-backs and we just knew that would be an opportunity for our players to get at them and take them on and I thought James Doona and Adam Wixted did that very well tonight,” Athlone manager Adrian Carberry told the website www.extratime.ie after the game.

In truth, that was something of an understatement – Wixted and Doona ravished the United back-three in the opening 45 minutes, with all three of the home side’s goals coming from out wide.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway couple take life in the fast lane after losing jobs to pandemic

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The Luv2Swim set-up in Carrowbrowne.

A Galway couple who both lost their jobs because of the pandemic are back on the crest of a wave – after opening a swimming pool that allows them to teach and coach swimmers, right beside their family home.

Fitness-loving husband and wife John and Shelly Newell have always had a passion for swimming – but it took the devastation of losing their jobs during Covid to spark the idea of turning it into a highly-specialised business they called Luv2Swim.

They had an idea to build an endless swimming pool and start swimming lessons and swim video analysis in their own private facility, three miles outside Galway city in Carrowbrowne.

And while Level 5 Lockdown has forced them to close for now, their single lane pool will be back, providing a unique facility for adults and children in a safe, fun, and friendly environment.

“Both of us had lost our jobs due to the pandemic and while out walking with our girls, I threw the idea out to John and it took legs from there. It was the beginning of a family business venture,” Shelly said.

But this was more than just a light bulb moment during lockdown; John and Shelly were aware of a recurring problem they had heard many times over the years – people’s anxiety about coming into an overcrowded, noisy, large pool environment.

“Luv2Swim would be Galway’s only private swimming studio providing one-to-one swim lessons and video analysis for adults and children. Swimming is such a vital lifesaving skill and it’s a skill you will have for your whole life,” said John.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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