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Polio baby who won the fight against adversity

Judy Murphy

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Lifestyle – Judy Murphy meets a man who has overcome one of the most feared illnesses to hit mankind

These days it’s unheard of in the developed world, thanks to vaccination, but in the early and mid 20th century until a safe, effective vaccine was developed, polio was one of the most feared illnesses a person could contract.

Poliomyelitis, as it is properly known, is an infectious viral condition that affects a person’s nervous system. It leads to muscle weakness and paralysis of varying degrees, depending on the nerves that are affected. There is treatment, but there is no cure.

For Galway city resident Tony Munnelly, who is originally from Doohoma near Belmullet, his leg, shoulders and lungs were affected when he was struck by polio as a baby and while he points out that he has “never let it interfere” with his life, polio did present him with difficulties that his able-bodied contemporaries didn’t have to face. It still does.

Tony was born in 1951 and got polio when he was just a year old. His sister who was two also got it, he says as he talks about the illness – and how he is now being affected by a condition known as Post-Polio Syndrome, which can occur in older people who have lived with the disease all their lives.

As a child, Tony was sent to Dublin for treatment and spent almost 12 years there between Cappagh Orthopaedic Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital in Baldoyle – there was no treatment facility locally.

Because he was so young, he can’t remember all the details, but observes that he never really got to know his mother and father due to that childhood separation and never felt a ‘child-parent’ bond with them.

There’s a sadness about him as he relates this aspect of his story, but there isn’t a screed of self-pity. In fact, self-pity is not present at any point during our conversation.

“I’m not badly off,” he points out. And he adds that life was different then. His father worked in England for eight months of the year, as was common during the economic climate of the time. His mother stayed at home, rearing the family and looking after her parents-in-law. It was not possible for her to visit Tony in Dublin, although his father used to call on the way home to Mayo from England. But, effectively he was a stranger.

“To me the nuns [Good Shepherds who ran Baldoyle and Cappagh] were my mother and father.”

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

Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

Stephen Corrigan

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Young people play on ice in the field between Grattan Road and Dr Colohan Road in the 1970s. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

1920

Cardinal’s condemnation

His Eminence Cardinal Logue has issued a Pastoral Letter in which he denounces competition in murder between miscalled patriots and the forces of the Crown.

His eminence, referring to the tragedies in Dublin, says the assassination of individuals is a terrible crime, and an outrage against God’s law.

It is a greater shock to humanity and a graver outrage against the divine ordinance to turn lethal weapons against an unarmed, closely-packed multitude, reckless of the lives of innocent people who may fall victims.

His Eminence refers in strong terms to the action of the forces in Ireland, and declares that no path of lies can screen or conceal the guilt of their proceedings. He solemnly appeals to his flock to avoid action which would bring them into conflict with God’s law.

His Eminence adds that if the people appeal to God with full earnestness and perseverance for the spiritual and temporal wants of their country, they may rest assured that the appeal will not be made in vain.

Bitter fruits

In the horrors through which Ireland is passing to-day we are witnessing the bitter fruits of government by minority. Had the Cabinet of Britain the wisdom and foresight to perceive that an effort to impose the will of North-East Ulster upon the overwhelming majority of the Irish people must inevitably result in disaster, the terrible tale of these tragic days might never have been written.

As it is, the failure to ensure that a peaceable constitution should run without trammel or hindrance in Ireland has cost the British Government as much as did the South African war.

Yet the present Premier had once to escape from the Birmingham Town Hall disguised as a policeman because he denounced that war, and his one-time chief, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, granted a full measure of freedom to the Boer whilst yet he held the smoking rifle in his hands.

The results of that enlightened policy have been mutually satisfactory to the two peoples. Yet South Africa had an “Ulster” question, as had Canada. The difference was that the recalcitrant in these lands had not the ear of Cabinet leaders.

If to-day Ireland stands in unhappy contrast, the real blame lies with those who have stifled statesmanship and imposed the disastrous substitute of a miserable provincial expediency.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Need for cash led to new chapter for book-loving young dad

Stephen Glennon

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Jim Shaughnessy in the viewing room.

Lifestyle – A Claregalway company specialising in antiquarian and out-of-print books has developed a worldwide market for its rare publications.  Owner Jim Shaughnessy tells STEPHEN GLENNON that focusing on high-quality editions and unusual collections has allowed MW Books to create its own unique niche.

On these winter mornings, it can be a struggle to get out of bed for many, yet not so for Renmore native Jim Shaughnessy of MW Books in Claregalway. For the antique and first edition books specialist, he has 250,000 reasons to rise and shine and embrace a new day.

Jim’s story is a remarkable one. Having traded books as a collector of 20th century literature for some years and working in several jobs previously, including at Kenny’s Books, Jim ventured into the world of bookselling in 2005.

“My first daughter (Eva) was born 16 years ago and I had that kind of naïve, romantic, young father moment in that I wanted to spend a load of time with her. So, I packed in what I was doing but, then, after a few months, the bills started piling up.

“All I knew at the time was books. At first, it was an opportunity to trade a bit, initially from my own collection, but then it became a necessity in terms of the family. So, I started to take it a bit more seriously. I started with book one and, today, we have 250,000 live stock items,” says the father-of-two. (His other daughter is Tess, 13.)

Looking over the warehouse floor in Lydican is a sight to behold. For any book-lover, it’s quite possibly the closest thing to heaven you’ll get. Jim smiles at the notion. He says it has taken time to get his online business to this point.

“It is such a rapidly competitive marketplace, we really had to sculpt out a niche for ourselves. It is not just the range of materials but more specifically, the quality. We pay a premium price for our better-condition copies and we actively go after more unusual collections and libraries, just to try to set us apart from what everyone else is doing.

“That seems to have worked out, that kind of specific approach, but it takes time. We are kind of an overnight success after 15 or 16 years,” says the UCG graduate and post-graduate (Masters in English).

He explains that the ‘MW’ in the company name are nicknames – which he doesn’t divulge! – between his wife Annemarie and himself.

“It was never intended to be what it is,” he says. “Originally, when we started trading to make some cash, I needed a name and, jokingly, we put MW on 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.

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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Country Living

A little lament for a forgotten friend – our country ‘local’

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

There was an old mate of mine long since gone to his eternal reward who I often used to give a lift home from the local on a Saturday night. A decent, hard-working man, the salt-of-the-earth, as they’d say. He wasn’t a man to be out every night of the week but Saturday night was especially precious to him for a game of cards and a check on the births, deaths and marriages of the parish.

The odd Sunday evening, he might ‘escape’ too or occasionally on a week evening if there was a local funeral and there was a lift going handy.

Saturday though was always his night for the extra ‘one or two’ and on the way home he would invariably break into a verse of a song, that never really reflected his current happy predicament.

Our little chat would always cease half way back the road when he’d break into verse:

“Well it’s lonesome away from your kindred and all

By the camp fire at night

Where the wild dingos call

But there’s nothin’ so lonesome

So morbid or drear

Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer . . .”

He ‘had the lot off’ and three or four minutes would pass outside his house before the first verse would be repeated to wind up the song that was made famous by Australia’s Slim Dusty way back in 1957, a year close to my heart!

I’m not really sure whether Slim Dusty had any more hit songs – if he had I never heard of them – but this ditty now stands as a valued nugget of Australian song and folk history.

Of course, when my old friend used to give his weekly version of the song, we always felt reassured that it would never come to pass in our neck of the woods that we’d ever see the daywhen we’d come across a pub with no beer.

It never did come to pass for my buddy, as he journeyed off to the after-life some years back, but there have been nights over recent weeks when I nearly had to pinch myself and say: “There’s no local to go to anymore.”

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.

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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