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Pioneering soldier Mary first female Army chief

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Lt Col Mary Carroll, Officer Commanding An Chéad Chath, with soldiers during a weapons display at Dún Uí Mhaoiliosa. “I’m very strongly committed to gender equality, but I see the politics of gender and it should not be solely a women’s issue," she says. Photo: Iain McDonald.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets Mary Carroll, who has succeeded 70 men in role of OC at Renmore Military Barracks

Rapport is a word Mary Carroll mentions several time during the course of our interview. The first woman to hold the role of Officer in Command (OC) at Renmore Military Barracks is no pushover, but she likes to know that the 448 troops of An Chead Cathlan Cois who are under her watch are doing OK.

“I want every young soldier to feel welcome and to belong,” she says. “I am a mother myself. The days of making their lives a misery is long gone.  When I ask them to do difficult things, I want them to feel this is part of what they do and do it with great pride.”

Not only is Mary a leader, she is also a ground-breaker. She joined the Army Cadets in the mid 1980s, after graduating from UCD with a degree in Social Science. The second oldest of a family of eight, she grew up in Ballinlough, Co Mayo, where her father ran a garage and her late mother was a home-maker. Both believed in education and worked hard to offer their children the best opportunities possible.

The mid-1980s weren’t exactly boom times for social science graduates and Mary went down the Army route, becoming just one of three women in a class of 47 cadets. She continued studying, with the aim of setting up personnel support services in the Army, spending five months with the US air force as part of her training. She was subsequently assigned to fulltime military duties, serving in a number of roles in infantry battalions in Collins Barracks and in Defence Forces HQ in Newbridge, Co Kildare.

As she honed her military skills in tactical, operational and strategic areas, Mary also focused on her personal education and earned several Masters Degrees, ranging from adult education to health promotion.

“Every time I would get fed up I’d do a course to keep my brain ticking over,” she says with a laugh.

Twenty-six years ago, she got married to Mayo man Vincent Henry and the couple settled in Galway. They now have two grown-up children, Conor, 21, who is studying Commerce at NUIG, and Alannah, 18, who has just completed her Leaving Cert at the Presentation College, Athenry, and also hopes to study Commerce.

The family stayed in Galway, while Mary moved around on Army duty, both inside Ireland and on overseas missions to countries including Afghanistan, Uganda and Serbia as part of UN and EU initiatives.

Now she is back in Galway, the first woman OC in Renmore since the foundation of the State – over 70 men have held the role. She is responsible for 448 troops but that will soon be 471. Vacant posts in the battalion will be filled when a new recruit platoon joins in late July.

Timing is everything, says Mary of her new position. She returned from Kosovo in December when the OC vacancy became available, as the previous incumbent had left on a tour of duty to Lebanon.

Her unit is scheduled to go overseas with the UNDOF mission to Syria in September 2016, so the position will then become free again.

As Ceannasaí, or OC, Mary is responsible for all that “my troops do or fail to do” and is also responsible for the barracks, which she runs from a modest, pleasant office, which is spacious enough for four comfortable armchairs and a coffee table as well as her desk. She prefers to have meetings with staff around the table, rather than being behind a desk.

“I have a different way of doing things. It’s not better or worse, but it’s my way.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Celebrations to forge new links

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Ester Kiely, Eilís Ní Dhonncha and Gráinne Ní Bhroin from Headford Lace Project at the launch of Corrib Beo’s programme of Heritage Week events, ‘Connecting Corrib Communities’ at Claregalway Castle. Photo: Brian Harding.

Lifestyle – An initiative involving community groups from around the Corrib has been launched for Heritage Week, with events taking place to showcase the area’s many riches, while also creating new connections among organisations. JUDY MURPHY hears from some of the groups involved.

”Ní neart go cur le chéile,” says Eilís Nic Dhonncha of the Headford Lace Project as she quotes the old Irish proverb about strength in togetherness to describe a new initiative which involves 13 communities around the Corrib, lake and river.

Linking Corrib Communities is running as part of Heritage Week and involves people from different communities showcasing their local heritage while also working to develop closer ties with each other.

The initiative, organised by the voluntary umbrella group Corrib Beo, was launched in Claregalway Castle on Tuesday at an event attended by people from all around Lough Corrib, including Fine Gael Senator, Seán Kyne (Moycullen), and Cllr Frank Fahy (Menlo).

But most of all, this was an occasion for people involved in the historic, cultural and leisure life of their local communities, and among the highlights was a demonstration of bobbin lacemaking from members of the Headford Lace Project, in the castle.

The Headford group came into being in 2016 to revive a craft that had been synonymous with the area from the mid-1700s to the early 1900s – census returns from 1911 show it was still alive in that year – but which died out as machines took over the highly-skilled work, practised for so long by local women.

It had almost been forgotten by 2016 when the Headford Lace Project was created as part of the Small Town Big Ideas for Galway 2020. Since then, the group has done extraordinary work to research and revive this unique heritage. So much so that Headford Lace was last year granted UNESCO status, being placed on Ireland’s National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, up there alongside hurling.

Eilís and fellow project member, Ger Henry Hassett explain that people don’t need to be skilled at bobbin-work to get involved in the Headford Lace Project. While it’s a particularly intricate style of lacemaking, many other initiatives have taken place in the town, including one that involved local blacksmiths,  Pat Monaghan and Simon Harte, working with artist Róisín de Butléar to create a sculpture representing the tradition, located in the town’s square. There’s also ongoing research – a huge part of the project.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Vitamin D and good postural balance may help as we age

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Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Having just turned 50 aging is particularly on my mind this month. So two recent studies about aging peaked my interest which are worth sharing. The first is a study from the University of South Australia and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It is based on data from 294,514 participants from the UK Biobank, a biomedical database with half a million British participants.

Scientists found that in some populations, up to 17 per cent of dementia cases could be prevented simply by raising people’s vitamin D in the blood to 50 nmol/L, which is considered to be the normal level.

Dementia affects over 55 million people worldwide and every year 10 million new cases are diagnosed so the implications could be huge.

It is the first time the impact of very low levels of vitamin D are examined on the risks of dementia and stroke by using genetic analyses among a large study population.

There is widespread vitamin D deficiency among people worldwide, even in sunny regions where sun awareness campaigns, indoor living and other factors contribute to the low vitamin D levels,

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. 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 in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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Rev Fr Raymond Watters O.P recites a decade of the rosary as the rain begins to pour down during the Blessing of Galway Bay on August 15, 1882.

1922

Dawn surrender

National troops operating from Galway and Athenry at dawn on Wednesday morning surrounded an area about four miles between Liscananaun village and Aucloggeen, on the eastern side of the Corrib, and after a smart movement captured nineteen irregulars, with their officers, twenty-two service and Mauser rifles, a number of service revolvers and automatics, and considerable quantities of ammunition for bombs.

The National troops were under command of Co-Commandant Austin Brennan, O.C., Galway area, and the various battalion and company officers, and the plan to surround these villages, which lie in a marshy waste between the Curragh Line, or Galway-Headford road, and the main road from Galway to Tuam, was evolved after information had been received that a number of irregulars were quartered there, and were commandeering sheep and foodstuffs from people in surrounding districts.

Slowly and silently, accompanied by a Lancia armoured car on which machine guns were mounted, the National troops moved out from Galway shortly before two a.m. on Wednesday. One column took the Galway to Headford road, the other taking the Tuam road.

The column operating on the Headford road swung to the right beyond the Cregg river, taking the road to Drumgriffin. By dawn they had taken up extended formation in the woods around Cregg Castle, and this formed a trap into which the irregulars were subsequently driven.

Trade unions position

Mr. Cathal O’Shannon, T.D., in his presidential address at the Trade Union Congress on Monday, declare that organised Labour was separate from and independent of any political party, and would take no dictation from any quarter outside its own ranks.

He strongly protested against militarism, from whatever quarter it came, and condemned the political censorship of thought and opinion, the ignoring of laws relating to the custody of prisoners, the existence of a semi-military police force, and the propaganda on both sides.

The present conflict or strife, he declared, was unnecessary and counselled the Irish workers to keep aloof from it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. 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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