Date Published: 02-Jan-2010
The number of calls received by the Samaritans in Galway is set to exceed the 40,000 mark for the first time this year as a combination of the recession, abuse revelations in the media, and last month’s flooding have taken their toll.
The Samaritans’ army of 120 volunteers in the city have noticed a steady increase in calls from people seeking emotional support in the wake of child abuse allegations and the extensive flooding to homes in parts of the county in recent weeks.
Volunteers believe that one in ten communications with the Galway office can now be linked to economic difficulties caused by the downturn, while the organisation also experienced a significant jump in calls in the aftermath of the Murphy Report into child abuse in Dublin last month.
The Director of Galway Samaritans, Nuala Dalton, said that the average number of calls to the Galway branch was 110 per day, an increase of 10% on the 2008 figure, and 53% of the callers were male. Contacts come by phone, email, face-to-face visits, and work by the unpaid volunteers at events throughout the year.
“The most important thing for us is confidentiality and we have no way of tracing back calls,” said Ms. Dalton. “There are things going on in everyone’s lives and people sometimes feel they cannot talk to their friends and families. We say that no matter what the problem is, big or small, it is just good to talk.
“It is particularly important that over 50% of our callers are male, because the people who are most at risk of suicide are young males. Our service is totally anonymous. We get great support from the people of Galway for what is a totally voluntary service.”
The Samaritans have launched their third ‘beer mat campaign’ with some of the city’s biggest pubs this Christmas, while they also intend to launch a drive to recruit new volunteers in February.
“The quality of our volunteers is fantastic and the dedication they give is amazing,” she said. “But there is always a big turnover of volunteers, which is why we are hoping to recruit more in the New Year.”
She said volunteers had attributed an increase in calls to anxiety and despair caused by the recession earlier in the year and this was compounded by the media coverage of clerical child abuse in Dublin, which opened up old wounds for former victims.
There has been a steady annual increase in calls to the Nuns’ Island based service, from 32,000 calls in 2006 and 38,000 last year, with the 40,000 mark set to be passed before New Year’s Eve.
Ms. Dalton said Galway people in distress, who felt isolated or needed to talk, were turning to the organisation to discuss their worries and the reporting of clerical child abuse cases had resulted in a marked increase in calls in recent weeks.
A new text message service will be introduced early in 2010 and Ms. Dalton said that volunteers were available 24 hours a day to listen in a non-judgmental way to those who have feelings of isolation, hopelessness, or despair.
Approximately 10% of those who made contact expressed a wish to end their lives in 2009, which was broadly similar to recent years.
“There can be no complacency on the part of any organisation involved in suicide prevention,” said Ms. Dalton. “Suicide affects thousands of people, including families and friends who have their lives shattered by the loss of a loved one.”
The Samaritans can be contacted at 1850 609 090.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Athenry FC 1
Kilbarrack United 2
(After extra time)
For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.
On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.
An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.
However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.
They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.
With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.
Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.
Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.
Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.