Peter Dorai Raj never regretted leaving his native Malaysia to make a life for himself on the other side of the world in Galway.
His well-attended funeral recently was a testament to the high regard his adopted city had for him, as well it should for his tireless work in improving the quality of life of many of its inhabitants through his work as a psychologist.
In his 83rd year, Peter had enjoyed just a short three years of retirement from Pro Consult, a counselling service he had helped set up in 1992 with Dr Kathleen Fitzgerald, in response to the lack of affordable professional services in the West of Ireland at that time.
When it was founded in Newtownsmyth, it was under the auspices of the Catholic Church, supported by the late Bishop Eamonn Casey, who knew Peter from his work as a psychologist with the Brothers of Charity, with whom he worked until his retirement at the age of 65.
But Peter continued, with his wife Helen, a counsellor, to work with Pro Consult for well over another decade.
Peter was educated in Malaysia by the Irish De La Salle brothers who advised him to apply for university in Ireland when he showed in interest in psychology while working as a teacher,
He arrived at UCG in 1967 as a religious brother and initially completed a BA in Galway.
It was while in college in Galway that he met two people who were to have a huge influence on his life, his future wife Helen Lawless from Fr Griffin Road, and Seamus McCloone, a psychologist who advised him to do a post graduate diploma in Psychology in UCD.
By then Peter and Helen had become a couple. They married in 1972 and settled in Renmore, near his new job with the Brothers of Charity.
In 1984 the couple moved to Grattan Court where they reared a family of five and, as in all aspects of Peter’s life, he proved to be ahead of his time in his role of husband and father.
A gentle soul who supported his wife and children, he was more than happy to do more of the cooking when Helen decided she wanted to train as a therapist.
Peter only made a few trips home to Malaysia – his parents died when he was younger (his father when he was just five and his mother years later in a road accident). He no longer spoke his native Tamil but he never forgot the dishes he had seen his mother make and the Dorai Raj home in Galway was an open welcoming one where Peter made many a delicious curry.
The sense of family was strong and he hosted many a niece and nephew or cousin into his home.
His daughter Siobhán in her eulogy in St Ignatius Church during the funeral Mass, celebrated by Fr Martin Curry SJ, told the congregation that her father was a “hands-on dad who couldn’t bear to hear us cry when we woke in the night, so paced the floor rocking us back to sleep.”
She recalled how he had ceded complete control of the family finances to his wife believing that his money was to be shared in the household but rarely spent a penny on himself.
He was proud of his children and supported them in their decisions and in recent years adored his three grandchildren, Isabella, Killian and Nia.
Of course, it was this caring attitude and his passion for his work that made him so popular with colleagues and clients. He had always been an advocate for independent living for people with intellectual disabilities and welcomed moves by Irish institutions to encourage residents to move into the community.
He made Galway his home and loved walks on Salthill Prom and, indeed, played tennis until he was seventy when he got cancer, a disease he survived, though his fitness levels were never the same afterwards.
He had been a keen sportsman – cricket, hockey, football as well as tennis and followed local teams, always supporting Galway.
Peter kept up with current affairs even watching the Nuacht despite not having a word or Irish, though at one stage of his life he attempted to learn it but never accomplished fluency due to his busy work schedule.
In his retirement he loved visiting his grandchildren in England and continued to give talks on interpersonal development and parenting whenever he was asked.
He was a daily Mass-goer and never lost his strong Catholic faith, one that was, and still is, a minority religion in Malaysia.
He died peacefully at the Galway Clinic following a short illness but was ready to die being the spiritual and positive person he was.
He is survived and missed by Helen, his children, Paul, Siobhán, David, Conn and Maria as well as his sister, Susilee, sons-in-law Justin and Andreas, brother-in-law Eamon, sisters-in-law Mary and Angela, his adored grandchildren as well as extended family and circle of friends.
Good luck England ! – as the poster and I screamed ….
Mark Gardiner, our man in Japan for the Rugby World Cup
Excitement has been building all week and even though Hiroshima isn’t a host city we are still getting a fair share of rugby fans passing through. Since last Saturday I’ve noticed some Irish fans coming into the pub, people who have arrived to take in some of the sights of Japan and then head off to take in the some of the pool matches.
There’s been some from Wexford, Mayo, Roscommon, Kerry, Laois, Dublin and Donegal but none from Cork yet! All of those fans will now be making their way to Yokohama which is situated right next to Tokyo and around 4 hours on the bullet train from Hiroshima. I’m giving the first two games a miss and will wait for Ireland to move closer to my adopted home city.
The Russia game will be held in Kobe, just one hour away, so I’ll be going to that with my son Tom on the eve of his 10th birthday. More accustomed to going to baseball games together hopefully he’ll see a try fest and enjoy a very different sporting atmosphere.
Earlier in the week, my Guinness rep walked in looking proud as punch to present me with five big Guinness posters for the rugby. As I unrolled one I couldn’t believe my eyes! [See poster below.] He couldn’t understand so I told him it was like having a Kirin beer poster with “good luck Korea” on it. He got the message pretty lively!
For some reason, the big story here is how much beer rugby fans drink. They’re very wary about bars, restaurants and stadiums running out so there have been numerous articles in papers telling landlords to order twice the norm. I had the local newspaper calling me yesterday almost begging me to tell them that I’d ordered way more beer than I normally would.
Tonight we have the opening game at 19:45 local time so hoping to get a good crowd into the pub for that. I will try and post some photos in the next few days. A big win for Japan is probably vital in order to catapult the tournament into the mainstream consciousness so hopefully, they won’t disappoint.
If anyone reading this plans to come out, there is a great forum on Facebook “Irish Rugby World Cup Japan Forum” or you can contact me on the Molly Malone’s Hiroshima Facebook page. Fingers crossed for Sunday.
Follow Mark Gardiners World Cup Diary here and on the Galway App.
Mark Gardiner is a former Galway resident now resident in Hiroshima, Japan where he owns and operates Molly Malones Bar.
Read his weekly unique insight into the 2019 Rugby World Cup here and on the Galway App.
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More than 70 kids under 12 in Direct Provision in Salthill
Galway City Tribune – More than 70 children under the age of 12 are living in a Direct Provision Centre in Salthill, figures from the Department of Justice show.
The Eglinton can house up to 210 people who are either seeking asylum or have been granted refugee status but have been unable to secure alternative accommodation.
The statistics show that the Salthill centre – which is for families and single females – has 77 residents under the age of 18.
Of these, 35 are aged four or under; 37 are aged between 5 and 12; and five are between 13 and 17 years of age.
Direct Provision is big business for service providers – figures show the companies behind Galway City’s two centres earned more than €77m since 2000. Last year alone, the Eglinton made a profit of €520,000.
The Great Western House centre off Eyre Square is for single males only, and there are currently no people under the age of 17 resident there. That centre has a maximum occupancy of 162 people.
Between both centres in Galway, there were a total of 359 occupants at the end of July.
This is a preview only. For extensive coverage on Direct Provision in Galway, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.
Drop in water quality ‘not related to cruise ships’
Galway City Council – Local authorities have rejected a suggestion that visiting cruise ships are dumping sewage into Galway Bay causing a deterioration in water quality.
At a City Council meeting, concerns were raised about the frequency with which warnings were issued this Summer, advising people not to swim in Salthill and Ballyloughane beaches.
Councillor John Connolly highlighted the issue, and was particularly concerned about the number of no swim notices and advisory notices warning about water quality, which were issued this year in the city.
Cllr Donal Lyons suggested that there was a view out there that one particular advisory notice regarding water quality in Salthill was issued soon after a cruise ship had left the bay.
He alluded to the link between cruise ships in the bay, and a subsequent deterioration in water quality, which has been the subject of social media commentary.
The Council’s Senior Executive Engineer in the Climate Action, Environment, Recreation and Amenity Department, Carmel Kilcoyne, acknowledged that that was the “rumour” out there but “it’s not true”, she said.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.