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Connacht Tribune

Spreading the word

Judy Murphy

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Gearóid’s sisters Karen and Sinéad Mannion who edited his extraordinary schoolboy essays and short stories for the forthcoming book.

A collection of essays and short stories written by a Clifden schoolboy in the 1980s – and recently found in a cupboard – is to be published next week. The author Gearóid Mannion died a few years later having lived with Muscular Dystrophy from birth. Judy Murphy tells his story.

Gearóid Mannion was just 14 years old and in second year at Clifden Community School when he took on the role of managing a soccer team. He couldn’t play the game himself because the Muscular Dystrophy he’d been born with had left his young body weak and fragile. But Gearóid knew how to manage and his side won their first game.

His brief, successful management tenure and the fate that befell those rebels who subsequently ignored his strategy is recalled by Féilim Gibbons, a member of that team and a friend of Gearóid’s, in the introduction to a new book, The Long-Lost Short Stories of Gearóid P. Mannion.

Being launched on Sunday, September 23, at Clifden Arts Festival, this collection of essays and short stories was written by Gearóid as a schoolboy in the 1980s. It lay forgotten in a cupboard for more than two decades until his nephew Niall discovered them a few months ago, while rooting in a press for a mobile-phone charger.

They are the work of a highly intelligent teenager in love with language and sci-f, who had a quirky world-view, partly due to his unique perspective – being profoundly physically disabled and in a wheelchair.

What makes this legacy more special is that Gearóid died 25 years ago, aged 21, because of Muscular Dystrophy.

Having been born healthy and happy, on June 30, 1971 Gearóid missed several milestones such as sitting up and crawling. He was sent to Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Dublin where he underwent a series of tests and procedures before being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type II, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy.

“At first, we thought he’d be able to walk, but as time went on, he had to have physio and we just had to get on with it,” his mother Anne recalls over tea in the kitchen of their house, a few miles outside Clifden on the Galway road.

“There was a paper bag full of copies in the press,” adds Gearóid’s older sister, Karen, who is Niall’s mum, about her son’s discovery. “Niall saw Gearóid’s name on them and started looking at them. The writing was so poor that Mammy had to translate them.”

That was no problem to Anne, who had been determined from the moment of Gearóid’s diagnosis that he would live a full and happy life.

And he did, attending primary school first on Omey Island, where Anne was a teacher, then Roundstone NS, before going on to secondary at Clifden Community School and to the then RTC.

Anne taught on Omey when just three families still lived there so Gearóid and Karen attended that school until it closed in the early 1980s, when she was reassigned to Roundstone.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Influx of visitors heightens Covid fears

Dara Bradley

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Saolta CEO Tony Canavan

Local health chiefs are planning for the worst case scenario of a second surge of Coronavirus brought on by domestic tourism – as ‘staycationers’ from parts of the country where the virus is more prevalent carry it into the west.

There has been just one new confirmed case of Covid-19 in Galway in the past week, and just a handful of new cases in the past several weeks.

But the authorities fear tourists from parts of the country more affected by the virus will result in an increase here during August and September.

There are also concerns that there are not enough beds in the public health system to cope with a resurgence of Covid-19 alongside regular winter hospital admissions.

Tony Canavan, CEO of Saolta, which manages public hospitals in the West, at the HSE West Regional Health Forum this week, said health workers are anxious that the deadly virus will spread to the West, as the reopening of society continues.

“There are concerns among those working in the health system associated with Government plans to reopen society and the economy, even though we know that is absolutely necessary and important for the well-being of the population as a whole.

“But the concerns we have relate to the greater movement of people whether it’s going to and from work, or going about their business, whether it’s attending the shops or entertainment events and so on, and that greater movement of people creates an environment where the risk of the spread of Covid-19 is increased.

“We’re particularly concerned in the West and North West, that there would be a level of movement of people associated with tourism at this time of year,” said Mr Canavan.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Chanelle McCoy unveils her clinically proven cannabinoid cure

Stephen Corrigan

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Chanelle McCoy (left) and Caroline Glynn with their new Pureis product line in Galway this week. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The usage of CBD food supplements to treat a whole raft of illnesses and conditions in recent years has given rise to concern that many of the products currently on the market are being sold to consumers without any clinical trials to verify their safety.

It was the rise in demand for these products that first caught the attention of well-known Loughrea business woman Chanelle McCoy who this week, together with her business partner and fellow Galwegian Caroline Glynn, launched the first CBD product on the Irish market that has been clinically proven to be safe – Pureis.

Chanelle, whose family business Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea has a proven track record in the medical world, stepped back from that venture five years ago to focus on her own Chanelle McCoy Health.

“My family business in Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea and so I’ve worked there for about 18 years. When I joined the business, it was a veterinary business and my father and I co-founded the medical side of the business. Then I was lucky to have the opportunity to lead that medical business over the last 18 years with a great team and with Caroline working with me,” says Chanelle of the beginning of her working relationship with Caroline.

“We bought the medical business into 96 countries around the world and we got over 2,500 product licences granted across those 96 countries. We would be looking at products in terms of what to put into the R&D pipeline and I started looking at CBD back in 2015, probably inspired a bit by Vera Twomey and the inability for moms like her to access good quality CBD products for kids like Ava,” she says, explaining that Cork woman Vera Twomey’s plight to secure cannabidiol treatment for her daughter’s epilepsy was a real eye-opener.

Read the full feature in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

State can’t leave Galway addiction services in limbo

Dara Bradley

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Any further delay in setting up an alcohol addiction treatment service in Galway City will result in more deaths, including suicides, of problem drinkers – and cause ‘total devastation’ to local families, addiction experts have warned.

Addiction Counsellors of Ireland (ACI) has demanded that the Health Service Executive (HSE) immediately establishes an alcohol treatment service in the city.

The professional body which accredits counsellors claims that GPs in Galway are ‘flooded’ with drink-related patients, and the Emergency Department ‘can’t cope’ with the level of alcohol admissions.

It said the long-awaited alcohol addiction treatment service planned for the city would save lives and save tens of thousands of euro on alcohol-related emergency admissions at University Hospital Galway.

Some €470,000 a year funding for the service was announced by the previous Government last December; and a commitment for the service was contained in the Programme for Government agreed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party.

This week, Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton, a Minister of State in the new administration, confirmed that some €225,000 for the service from now to Christmas, is available in the 2020 HSE budget to get the service up and running.

Local addiction counsellors have now demanded that the HSE urgently hire the staff, and source a building, to roll out the alcohol addiction service, which has been absent for the past seven years.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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