Date Published: 22-Oct-2009
The distraught mother of a 16 year old boy who hanged himself after being illegally served a large quantity of alcohol in a pub in Co Galway has appealed for more severe penalties to be introduced to deter publicans from selling drink to those who are underage.
At a sitting of the Coroner’s Court in the city, the victim’s mother said her child did not intend to kill himself but that he was “so full of vodka” on the night of October 26, 2008 that he didn’t know what he was doing.
Accepting the medical evidence that the young man died due to asphyxia, Galway West Coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin concluded the young man returned home from a night out and “for some reason which we will never know, took his own life”.
In an emotional statement at the conclusion of evidence to the inquest, the teenager’s mother spoke at length about her “gentle giant” son, whom she said was 6ft 4in tall, weighed 17 stone, but was still afraid of the dark.
Referring to all the plans he had made for his future, she said her son had no intention of killing himself and that if he had wanted to do that, he would have used one of four shotguns which he could have accessed in the family home.
Instead, when he arrived home he went to the family shed to hang himself from the ceiling. He was only four inches off the ground when he was discovered by his stepfather.
“He had no more intention of doing this, he was the happiest young fella, so full of life and plans. He didn’t realise the danger he was putting himself in and that he could die. Because he was full of vodka, he didn’t realise he could die,” she said.
The pub in which the young man and a number of his friends – all of whom were underage – were served on the night he died was prosecuted in the district court recently and received a fine of over €3,000 in addition to being ordered to close for seven days. The inquest heard the victim had bought and drank three pints of Budweiser, one pint of Bulmers and three ‘007’s (double vodka, orange juice and white lemonade) that night.
The victim’s mother said she had spoken to a number of doctors since she lost her son about the relationship between suicide and binge drinking and the fact that serotonin levels can drop dramatically with alcohol and induce suicidal thoughts in otherwise happy young people.
“I talked to a lot of doctors on the relationship between suicide and binge drinking. One young man every weekend [dies like this]. One doctor said that if those few minutes in [son’s name] life had passed and he had gone to bed, he would probably have never thought of doing this ever again,” he said.
“To me, the root cause of this was alcohol – spirits in particular. This is the end result, [son’s name] is gone,” she added.
Referring to the prosecution and penalty incurred by the pub where her son was served, she said her son had been born in Florida and if his death had occurred there, the pub in question would have been closed permanently and charged with manslaughter.
“The most the law here can do with the pub is fine them less than €4,000. That to me says that in the eyes of the law, that’s what my child’s life was worth – less than €4,000,” she said.
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.