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Connacht Tribune

Samaritans Galway handled 47,000 calls in 2017

Denise McNamara

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Samaritans Galway last year saw over 47,000 calls handled by its 120 volunteers around the clock – making it one of their busiest years in its 40-year history.

Between November 2016 and November 2017 some 47,219 calls were taken – and that does not include the hundreds of texts and emails dealt with as well as the drop-in callers to the Samaritan House at 14 Nuns Island.

“We were certainly very busy – I mean we’re always busy – but since the introduction of the free phone number it has been up; around a 30% increase. Before that we had a low call number but now people can call us for free 24/7, 365 days of the year and there will always be someone to listen at the other end,” explained director Anne Wynne.

In the past year, 63% of calls answered were made outside of business hours – between 6pm and 6am – which is another key reason why this service has never waned in its use.

“The fact that most calls for help are received outside of office hours shows that Samaritans provides a vital support for people in distress when other services and sources of support may not be available.”

Working as a volunteer for eleven years – and now 18 months into a three-year term as an unpaid director – Anne recalls that people rely on the Samaritans for support for very similar issues over the years.

“The reasons people call us have remained consistent over the years – relationship problems, financial worries, stress and anxiety, loneliness and health issues.

“Even at the height of the recession we might have had more calls from people with financial problems but really loneliness is the big problem – that and mental health.”

Not one person in the Samaritans Galway operation is paid, which is unusual in the charity and non-profit industry, hit with scandals about high salaries and fraud in recent years.

It is the main factor for why Galwegians have always supported the body, whose vision is that fewer people die by suicide.

“Our volunteers are the very heart of our organisation. Their dedication is unwavering and they go above and beyond to ensure that our services is available for those in need. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary work.”

Last year the Galway branch needed €63,000 to stay open.

Through donations and corporate sponsorship, their Nuns Island base was extensively renovated over two years and was reopened last September with brighter and better facilities.

“We now have a bright welcoming building suitable for both volunteers and visitors alike.”

The fundraising committee has two main collections in the year – the church gate collections in September and the flag day which took place last April.

Its main awareness events take place on July 24 – known as 24/7 to highlight that it never closes – and on the shortest day of the year, December 21.

Anyone who ring the free helpline – 116 123 – will never get an answering machine. Volunteers also respond to emails, text or letters and are available for face-to-face chats at their Nuns Island branch, 9am to 8pm daily.

There will be a recruitment drive for volunteers in September. They must commit to three hours a week after undergoing months of training.

Connacht Tribune

Curran, Melody and Molloy all leave Utd as Caulfield confirms two new signings

Keith Kelly

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Enda Curran, pictured after scoring a goal for Galway United against Wexford in the season just finished, has left the club. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The comings and goings have continued at Galway United in the past week, with the club busy re-signing players fork last season, adding some new faces, as well as confirming the departure of players who were part of the 2020 squad.

Having already said goodbye to the sextet of Conor Barry, Joe Collins, Vinny Faherty, Jack Lynch, Timo Partheons, and Josh Smith, the club this week confirmed the departure of three more players: Enda Curran (89 appearances, 20 goals), Conor Melody (108 appearances, five goals), and Timmy Molloy (16 appearances, no goals).

Curran was signed for United as an 18-years-old by Sean Connor ahead of the 2011 season and made his debut in the opening game of that campaign, coming on as a substitute for the injured Neal Keane in the 43rd of a 3-0 defeat at home to St Patrick’s Athletic.

He made a total of 13 appearances for United that season, and he was back with the Tribesmen for United’s return to the national league in the 2014 season, when he made eight appearances, scoring his first goal for United in the first of those games, coming off the bench to score in the 5-0 win at home to Shamrock Rovers B in July.

His most productive season for United was the following year’s campaign, when he scored 12 goals in 25 appearances in the Premier Division for United (he made 29 league and cup appearance in total that season), including his one and only hat-trick for the club, coming in the 5-0 win away to Bray Wanderers in April.

The following month, he had the distinction of scoring two penalties in a single game, in the 5-3 win over Bohemians.

That haul of a dozen goals saw him finish as the club’s joint top-scorer in the league that season alongside Jake Keegan, though the US striker finished as overall top scorer on 16 goals thanks to 2 goals in the FAI Cup, and two in the League Cup.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Biden is a Maree man!

Keith Kelly

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US President-election Joe Biden.

The connections of incoming US President, Joe Biden, to Mayo and Louth on his mother’s side of his family have been widely reported – but it has emerged that he has just as strong links to a small townland outside Oranmore through his father’s side…as recently as four generations ago.

And the news has led to hopes that the President-elect will include a trip to Galway in any itinerary for a visit to Ireland during his presidency – and it is being reported this week that the incoming president will make Ireland his first state visit when he assumes office.

Contact had been made with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office with the news of the President-elect’s Galway links ahead of his visit to Ireland in 2016, but Liam Hanniffy – who has uncovered the link between his family and that of Mr Biden, was told that the itinerary had already been planned, and a visit to Galway was not possible.

Liam Hanniffy, who is from Ballinacourty in Maree, has been researching his family tree since been contacted by a man from America in 2014 saying they were third cousins, and both were also related to the then US Vice-President, Joe Biden.

Research by Liam has discovered that a man called John Hanniffy, who was born just over 200 years ago in Ballinacourty Hill in Maree, is actually the great-great grandfather of the President-elect – and to make the Galway link even stronger, John Hanniffy married a woman whose parents was also born in the same townland, meaning two of his great-great-great grandparents also came from the same townlands nestled on Galway Bay.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway all set to re-open for business

Dara Bradley

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Shop Street...business will be back.

Galway has earned the right to re-open – local lockdown sacrifices have suppressed the virus in the community, the latest figures confirm.

The collective effort of city and county residents over six weeks drove down the infection rate to one of the lowest in the country.

Gyms, all retail, hairdressers, personal services and possibly religious services and some entertainment are on course to re-open next week.

Government will announce plans for hospitality, with publicans, and in particular those who don’t serve food, hopeful they won’t be left behind. Plans to ease Christmas visiting restrictions will also be unveiled Friday.

Galway had one of Ireland’s highest Covid-19 figures when the country entered Level 5 lockdown in October but the latest stats reveal a massive turnaround.

Galway recorded 168 new confirmed cases in the fortnight to Monday, which equates to a 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of 65.1, compared with the national average of 107.8. The incidence rate peaked at 313.9 per 100,000 in October when the number of weekly cases in Galway hit a staggering 500 – ten times this week’s total of 50 cases in the seven days up to Monday.

In the week to Saturday, 28 Covid outbreaks were recorded in the West, down from 36 the previous week. Eighteen of the new clusters were in private homes and nine were in extended family and community.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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