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Psychologist Peter Dorai Raj left profound impact on adopted city

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta




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.


Outdoor dining plans unveiled for Galway City

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A new plan to temporarily pedestrianise city streets to create more space for outdoor dining this summer was published this week.

Galway City Council has said it is planning to close six streets for four months to boost the hospitality sector and attract more custom ‘back the West’ and to Woodquay.

It has also signalled smaller changes for Salthill and around Eyre Square.

“We’re looking to support businesses and people getting back to work. This is an opportunity for us to explore outdoor dining and we’re looking to trial these public realm initiatives,” Ruairí Lehmann, the City Council’s Tourism Officer told the Galway City Tribune.

“There is an appetite for this; the indications we have from Government is it is going to be an outdoor summer and these proposals will support that,” he added.

Chairperson of Galway Branch of VFI, Johnny Duggan of Taylor’s Bar on Dominick Street, said the changes would be very positive and boost hospitality businesses in all areas.

Already, he said as many as 30 businesses have applied for licences to trade outside in the area known as the Westend.

The local authority wants to close to traffic The Small Crane and Raven Terrace 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from June 7 until September 30. Car parking spaces will be removed from Small Crane and one lane of traffic would be kept open, one-way. A decision on which side is still under review.

The Council intends to make Dominick Street Lower (Galway Arms to Monroe’s) a single-lane one-way traffic street to facilitate additional on-street dining. It’s understood this has hasn’t yet got the backing of taxi drivers who have concerns about access to and from the Bridge Street rank but alternative taxi space may be offered at another location in the Westend to assuage those fears.

The Council has signalled its intention to close Dominick Street Upper and William Street West from Small Crane to Munster Avenue, at night only, between 6pm and 11pm, from Monday June 7 until Thursday September 30.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and for full details of the proposals for the city centre and Salthill, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Council chief backs Salthill tidal pools proposal

Stephen Corrigan



Image Courtesy of Superfly Ireland

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Council is to consider including a specific objective to restore the tidal pools in Salthill in the new City Development Plan – with around one-fifth of the submissions made in a public consultation backing this ‘no-brainer’ proposal.

In a report to councillors on submissions received, Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said consideration of the proposal would be based on technical feasibility, funding, staff resources, climate change considerations and environmental factors.

“A large number of submissions were received requesting the restoration of the tidal pools in Salthill as a year-round public amenity and recreation facility accessible to all. The restoration of this facility would be a huge asset to the city and complement the existing facilities that are available at Salthill,” Mr McGrath states in the document seen by the Galway City Tribune.

Support for the reviving of the Ladies’ Beach facility grew legs after an online petition attracted over 4,500 signatures.

Up to 100 of the 518 submissions made to the Council’s pre-draft consultation supported reopening the pools that have been out of action since the late 1970s.

(Photo: How the pools might look. Image Courtesy of Superfly Ireland)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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GMIT in €9m bid for Galwegians’ Glenina grounds

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – GMIT has put in an offer – rumoured to be in the region of €9million – for the purchase of Galwegians RFC’s grounds at Glenina, the Galway City Tribune understands.

The offer will be presented for a vote at a Special General Meeting of club members set to take place on May 27.

The land at Crowley Park, located just two minutes’ walk from GMIT, had been earmarked for housing by property developer Neil Armstrong, and is zoned residential. However, this deal fell through.

A GMIT spokesperson told the Galway City Tribune they were “not yet in a position to comment”, while a spokesperson for Galwegians declined to comment.

It is understood that staff at GMIT were informed by the institution’s Vice President of Finance at a meeting this week that the ‘deal was done’ and that they awaited the rugby club’s signing off at its members’ meeting later in the month.

The sale would clear the way for the club to proceed with plans to develop a 22-acre site at Boleynasruhaun, Oranswell, where it is expected to make a second planning application after the County Council raised concerns over the scale of the development proposed initially.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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