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Organ Donor Commemorative Garden reflects generosity that grew from grief

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Organ Donor Commemorative Garden reflects generosity that grew from grief

When 26-year-old Éamonn Goggin from Spiddal lost his life following a car accident in 2006, his parents Martina and Denis lost their only child, the person Denis described as “our best friend”.

Out of that time of “indescribable loss and grief” for his parents was born a dream that came to fruition on Tuesday in Salthill when the National Organ Donor Commemorative Garden, which celebrates the lives of organ donors and offers people a place of beauty, inspiration, healing and hope was formally opened in Quincentennial Park on Salthill’s seafront.

Éamonn had carried an organ donor card and his parents honoured his wishes when they were asked by staff at UHG about organ donation in July 2006.

That led to their involvement with Ireland’s organ donor community and their subsequent idea to create this unique Circle of Life garden that “oozes beauty . . . heritage and tradition . . .” according to RTÉ’s Mary Kennedy, the Irish Kidney Association’s voluntary ambassador for 2014,  who spoke at the opening, an event attended by some 500 people.

The garden’s title Circle of Life, comes from the five two-metre tall stones surrounding the garden’s centre, each of which features a carving and inscription reflecting the different stages of man’s journey through life.

Another design feature is a unique heritage wall with stones from iconic heritage sites in each of the 32 counties to represent donors, and welcome people from all over Ireland. These were procured with the support of the Office of Public Works.

The central stone comes from Clonmacnoise, for centuries the spiritual centre of Ireland. Stones from significant sites on the five major continents give the park an international dimension as a place of welcome for all people.

The Goggins established the Strange Boat Donor Foundation in order to create the garden, working in partnership with Galway City Council which made the site available.

Transplant Surgeon David Hickey, Director of Transplantation at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, said the garden imparted an “important and powerful message of generosity and thanksgiving” which would aid the promotion of organ donation and transplantation into the future.

The garden cost approximately €150,000, almost all of which was raised through voluntary donations, fundraising events and sponsorship.

The main sponsors were the Galway/Chicago Sister Cities International movement, and a large group from Chicago attended Tuesday’s opening, as did sponsors from Rhode Island.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Patients vent their spleen over ED chaos

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The new ED at UHG.

Complaints about the Emergency Department of University Hospital Galway (UHG) jumped by 55% last year, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

During 2021, when strict Covid-19 restrictions were in place at UHG, a total of 80 official complaints were lodged about the West’s main public Emergency Department.

But in the following year, official complaints about the Emergency Department at UHG totalled 124.

It represents an increase of 44 complaints, or a year-on-year jump of 55%. It does not include complaints made to frontline staff that were resolved soon after they were made, and only refers to complaints formally assigned to a complaints officer.

A further 13 complaints were lodged but are not included in the total over the two years because the complaints were withdrawn, or consent was not given to progress them.

The increase in complaints to Saolta University Healthcare Group came in 2022, when medical activity returned to pre-pandemic levels, and overcrowding at UHG’s ED dominated the headlines.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Connemara pride in teenager just pipped at the post for Eurovision

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Jennifer Connolly on stage at Eurosong.

Connemara singer Jennifer Connolly was basking in the pride of her community this week – even though she was pipped at the post for the chance to represent Ireland in this year’s Eurovision in Liverpool.

Going by the stage name Connolly, the 19-year-old from Leitir Mealláin was the bookie’s favourite going into the Eurosong contest to pick the Irish contestant on RTE’s Late Late Show.

Her atmospheric number, Midnight Summer Night, scored 32 points, losing out by just two points to the Dublin band Wild Youth’s anthemic We Are One.

She scored highest with the international jury with twelve points, compared to Wild Youth’s ten points – but she lost out by two points from the Irish jury and two points on the public vote.

Wild Youth had the edge in the familiarity stakes, having previously supported Lewis Capaldi, Niall Horan and The Script on tour. Their hit Can’t Move On has been a firm Irish radio hit since its 2018 release.

They certainly appeared very confident onstage last Friday. But few could fault Connolly, who after an initial shaky start blew it out of the park with her strong voice.

This is the first year that the winner was chosen by a combination of an international jury, a national jury and a televote.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

White House hopeful boasts Galway roots

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Galway roots...Steve Laffey.

You wait an eternity for one US President with Galway roots to come along – and then a potential second Galwegian in the White House emerges in quick succession!

Because with earlier confirmation of Joe Biden’s roots embedded deep in Ballinacourty, outside Oranmore, now the first official challenger to Donald Trump’s planned renaissance turns out to be a direct descendant of a North Galway native.

And while Steve Laffey, the former Mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, might not make it to the final shake-up, he has officially declared his intention this week to seek the Republican nomination to run for the White House next year.

Mr Laffey, who lives in Colorado, is the great great grandson of Michael Laffey from Sunhill, Menlough, according to Mountbellew genealogist Martin Curley, who also established President Biden’s Galway credentials – despite the higher-profile claims of Mayo and Louth to his roots.

Mr Laffey served as mayor of Cranston, a city just outside of Providence, Rhode Island, from 2003 to 2007. He also made an unsuccessful bid for Senate in 2006.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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