Lifestyle – Rachel Gotto’s extraordinary journey through tragedy and bereavement, her own life-threatening illness and resulting addiction to prescription drugs, which she has overcome is proof that people have power to change their lives, she tells JUDY MURPHY.
Rachel Gotto is an animated, vibrant woman who uses her hands – a lot – in conversation. Nothing strange about that, you might think, but that she can move her hands at all is a testament to Rachel’s will and spirit.
This woman has faced more adversity in her 50 years than most people ever will, including the sudden tragic death of her husband, which she witnessed, the death from cancer of her brother in his 20s, her daughter’s serious childhood illness, and her own brain tumour, which nearly killed her.
Yet, as she sips mint tea in a city café, she says candidly that overcoming her addiction to the sedative drug, benzodiazepine, was the toughest, most soul-destroying experience of the lot.
That addiction was the result of medication following an operation for a brain tumour, diagnosed when Rachel was in her mid-30s, which most neurologists had declared was inoperable.
Her goal in sharing her story is to inspire other people deal with what live throws at them. There may be times when the struggle gets too much and you need to rest. But her message is “don’t give up”.
From the beginning, Rachel’s life was unconventional. She was born in Glandore, County Cork, in the late 1960s – the birth would have been on a boat, as her older brother’s was, except the doctor attending her mother refused to go on board.
Her parents had arrived in Ireland by boat a couple of years previously. Her father, “an expansive, adventurous man”, had bought a small craft in England, intending to sail to New Zealand. The couple stopped off in West Cork on the way and stayed; “thankfully”, says Rachel.
Her father set up one of the earliest chandlery businesses in Ireland and the family “lived off the sea”.
Rachel, who now calls Knocknacarra home, remains deeply attached to the ocean, with swimming and rowing among her passions. That attachment has persisted despite losing her husband Nic to the sea when she was pregnant with their only child, Nicola, who is now in her early 20s.
Rachel’s mum, to whom she is very close, is 83, and her daughter describes the older woman as “a wonderful mother”. She didn’t have a good relationship with her late father, but doesn’t dwell on that.
There’s so much else to tell that it doesn’t matter.
At the age of 23, she was running her own seafood restaurant on the pier in Glandore. That’s where she met Nic, when he arrived there by boat.
“He came and went through the sea,” she says simply.
Rachel, then aged 24 was caring for her brother Dominic, just a year older than her, who had been diagnosed with cancer. He’d opted not to have conventional medical treatment and they travelled the world seeking other treatments until his death in November, 1996. Although Dominic had been more than reconciled to dying, Rachel felt hugely guilty that she hadn’t done enough to save someone she loved so much.
But she was supported by Nic, a diver and fisherman from Carrigaline, and “a constant, constant man”.
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Tesco to take over 10 Joyce’s Supermarkets across Galway
Tesco Ireland has announced it is to take over 10 Joyce’s Supermarkets stores in Galway.
Subject to approval, they’ll be rebranded and re-designed throughout next year on a phased basis.
No figure has been disclosed for the deal, which has been struck on the 70th anniversary of the family-run business.
Joyces was first established as a small grocery shop in Headford in 1951 and earlier this year the Joyce family celebrated 70 years in business.
The firm currently employs over 500 people and has stores in Headford, Knocknacarra, Athenry, Tuam, Inverin, Ballybane, Fr. Griffin Road, Doughiska, Oranmore and Oughterard.
All ten are set to be taken over by Tesco – though the acquisition is subject to the approval of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
In a statement, Tesco says all stores will be rebranded throughout 2022 and will also offer services such as Grocery Home Shopping, Click & Collect, F&F Clothing and Homeware.
It adds Joyce’s employees will be welcomed as colleagues of Tesco Ireland and will be supported to continue and grow their careers at Tesco.
Tesco Ireland CEO Kari Daniels says Pat Joyce, his management team and staff have built a fantastic business with many great aspects that can complement Tesco’s offerings.
She says they look forward to welcoming customers to Tesco and engaging with suppliers and the wider community as soon as possible.
In a statement, Pat Joyce says it’s a historic moment for the business that he believes will bring great benefit to communities, and the opportunity has been carefully considered.
He adds they’re pleased to pass on the business to an established brand in Tesco and has moved to thank staff, suppliers and customers for their support over the years.
Truckers to take to the roads in droves – for pre-Christmas fundraising run
A convoy of big-wheel truckers will take to Connemara’s roads next month – in a variation of the iconic Coca Cola Christmas ad.
That’s the plan announced by local advocate Paddy Rock, who wants to recreate that festive feeling – and raise money for two worthy causes in the process.
But the truckers won’t bring the region to a standstill – because they will be taking to the roads with just their cabs, all decked out in Christmas lights!
Launching the Joyce Country Truck Run & Light Show, Mr Rock outlined the charity route, beginning at Peacock’s Hotel and travelling through Maam, Cornamona and Cloughbreac before finishing in Clonbur village, where the annual lighting of the Christmas tree will officially trigger the start of the festive season.
The whole spectacular will benefit two charities – Galway Parkinson’s Association and My Canine Companion, Autism and Therapy Services, because both support two local families in the area.
Paddy Rock, founder of the Joyce Country Truck Run, is also a member of the Galway Parkinson’s Association – an organisation he said had helped him cope with his own diagnosis of the illness.
“It has help me manage my Parkinson’s with tips and helpful information from other members and of course the therapies the association provides,” he said.
And that was why he decided to come up with the truck run.
He said he always had an idea that he would love to make his own version of the Coke Christmas ad with all the trucks lit up for Christmas.
And he knew that Maam Valley – all lit up with the finest trucks around decorated in Christmas lights – was the place to recreate such an iconic scene and do it for the benefit of deserving charities.
Aoife Conroy, mother of Robbie Conroy-Dermody, revealed the positive impact on her little boy after he received his assistance dog, Archie, from My Canine Companion – Autism and Therapy Services.
My Canine Companion trains assistance dogs for children with autism and other needs.
The dog’s primary role is to be a safety anchor when out in public for the children as the child is attached to the dog’s vest via a safety belt ensuring the child is safe at all times – bu,t they are also companions, sensory and emotional supports…and most importantly a friend.
Robbie Conroy-Dermody is autistic and was delighted to receive his assistance puppy-in-training Archie back in August.
Aoife said that Archie had changed her son’s life already after only a couple of months of being with them.
“Robbie made a friend on his first day of school – something that would otherwise be very difficult for him,” she said.
“A boy in his class was so taken with Archie and – after his teacher told the class Archie was a magic doggie to help Robbie – she later heard the boy tell his mother that Robbie was his friend, and he had a magic doggie.
“So thanks to Archie, the magic dog, Robbie now has two best friends,” she said.
The launch event also heard from Marie Cahill, Chairperson of the Galway Parkinson’s Association, who told the gathering that the GPA provides physiotherapy and speech and language therapy for over 100 members per week.
“These therapies are vital for the members of this group – and the level of support for this event shows just how important they are to the people of Galway and their families,” she said.
The first annual Joyce Country Truck Run & Light Show in aid of Galway Parkinson’s Association and My Canine Companion – Autism and Therapy Services will commence on December 11 from Peacock’s Hotel, Maam Cross, at 5pm.
The event is open to articulated lorry cabs – no trailers – and to smaller trucks such as refrigerated six wheelers and delivery trucks.
For more information on how to register for the event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org – and to contribute go to https://www.idonate.ie/JoyceCountryTruckRun
Galway Lions roar into festive action!
A Galway charity is once again focussed on the real spirit of Christmas – by raising funds to provide festive vouchers for over 400 families and individuals in need this Yuletide season.
To do that, Galway Lions Club has this week launched four separate fundraising drives – including its annual Radio Auction on Galway Bay Fm.
This annual extravaganza – overseen by ‘auctioneer’ Keith Finnegan and broadcast live on his Galway Talks show – has hundreds of great gifts under the hammer, with the proceeds then helping hundreds of needy families this Christmas.
The #lionsauction2021 will take place on Friday, December 3, between 9am and 12 noon – live on Galway Talks with Keith Finnegan and streamed live on: https://www.facebook.com/GalwayLionsClub.ie
The Lions expect to have over 230 items for sale including weekends away, fuel and food vouchers, tickets to sporting events, shopping vouchers and furniture.
You can bid online from 9am on Tuesday next, November 30, until 12 noon on Friday, December 3, on the auction website at www.galwaylionsclub.ie, or on the day by phone on 091-353250 where lines will be manned throughout the show.
On top of the Radio Auction, they will also be holding cash collections at local supermarkets and shopping centres, as well as a November swim and soft toy raffles – and they are once again appealing to the businesses and people of Galway to help them to help others.
“The Lions Club is a community-based organisation working to help those families in need. We work closely with many local organisations on a joint community basis – sourcing donations from businesses, working with other local charities and organisations and all our volunteers come from a wide spectrum of the local community in Galway,” said Galway Lions President Fergal McAndrew.
“Our joint wish is to give that extra little bit of help that might just make the difference and maybe help families in these tough challenging times. All of this is only possible through the generosity of the people and businesses of Galway,” he added.
The Lions Club Supermarket Collection, year on year, yields circa €18,000 which is a vital contribution to funding club projects – and volunteers are hoping to at least match that again this year.
The cash collections will be evident throughout the city from the last weekend of November and the first two weekends of December.
“Given the restrictions we were faced with relative to our cash collections at supermarkets last year and thankfully to a lesser degree this year, we have looked to iDonate to support our traditional cash collection fundraising efforts,” said Fergal McAndrew.
And one of those iDonate contributors will also win a hotel break at the Delphi 4* hotel and spa. That Draw will take place on December 18, and the winner will be notified by email.
You can also support Galway Lions by buying a line to win one of those big friendly cuddly bears that you will see on display in offices, shops, sports club, gyms and other venues. All the money goes directly to the Christmas appeal.