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Connacht Tribune

Stone-painting initiative touches hearts

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Some of the colourful stones painted by the team at Athru in Clarinbridge.

A small group of painters have left a trail of positivity around their Galway centre – by putting a whole series of uplifting messages and colours on ordinary stones.

They are all members of Athru, a small day service group based at the Brothers of Charity centre at Kilcornan in Clarinbridge.

The three supported adults Sean, James and Colleen – added by three staff members – have all been very busy the last number of weeks, painting Positivity Rocks for all those that use the grounds as a place to exercise, also for those that are working here.

Searching for stones…Adam O’Connor, Deborah Walsh, and Jonathan and Thomas Keane.

“Each rock is made up of pictures and colours to try to bring a smile to people’s faces during these very dark hard times. Some rocks include little positivity messages to help lift peoples spirits,” said a spokesperson for the Athru team.

“We have all thoroughly enjoyed this and it definitely gives us a little ray of sunshine each day to know that everyone who finds our stones takes their own little meaning from it.

“Be that, that brighter days will come again or even the fact that amongst some darkness there is always a reason to smile if you look hard enough,” they added.

Among those touched by the simple but uplifting messages was Mary Rose Gormley, who is also a Social Worker with the Brothers of Charity’s Clarin Services.

“As I was leaving work, I spotted the beautiful painted stone at the front door. In the distance I noticed a little group walking through the gardens planting these beautifully painted stones, here and there,” she said.

Colleen Costello with a selection of the team’s creative work.

“I went away reflecting on this. I was so touched by this act. Here we have a group of people with intellectual disabilities, sending out positivity to everyone.

“Kilcornan estate, with its beautiful walled garden, is a public amenity; it is a wonderful place for families to explore with a beautiful walled garden and forest trails,” she added.

Later that day, she brought her own children down to see the project – and they too got such pleasure from searching for these stones.

“I was really moved by the positive message in this random act of kindness,” said Mary Rose.

“It made me think about the hidden heroes in this whole crisis. I think the people supported and their support workers are doing an amazing job of protecting our population.

James Kelly leaving out one of the stones.

“It’s evident that they are doing such a good job as the Covid-19 has not raised its head in our service as yet,” she added.

She felt it was important to acknowledge ‘the wonderful work frontline workers in disability services are doing fighting the Covid-19 and preventing it from having devastating effects on our community’.

“They are working just as hard as others in clinical settings, only they are focusing on preventative measures,” she said.

“The people who planted these feel-good stone creations, sharing love and kindness in a scary unpredictable world, are a wonderful example of resilience and empathy.  Love and kindness will always win in the end,” she added.

Athru staff themselves said that none of this would have been possible ‘had it not been for some very kind paint donations from Quinn’s of Labane and from a local painter Stephen Dent who both very generously gave us an abundance of paint’.

Sean Monahan at work on the stones.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell

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Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara

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Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

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

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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