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Support is vital when life-altering illness hits

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Marie Cahill and Caroline Rushe of the Galway Parkinsons Association. “It was a whole new experience, and we didn’t know what was going to happen – we didn’t know anything,” Marie says of the time when Parkinsons struck in her family. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Lifestyle –  Dearbhla Geraghty talks to the people behind Galway Parkinson’s Association which provides assistance to 200 families

The diagnosis of any life-altering disease can be devastating for the most resilient of us, but through the voluntary work of the Galway Parkinson’s Association, the path for patient and family has utterly changed for the better.

It is certainly all-heart that drives the charity’s current chairperson and secretary, Marie Cahill and Caroline Rushe. Both saw a parent suffer with this disease in a time when the public services were insufficient, and knowledge and support were in short supply.

Now, it is not over the top to say that these two women dedicate their lives to improving the lot for others – years after the death of their own loved ones.

“When he was diagnosed, and said ‘I have Parkinson’s’, none of us knew what it was… we hadn’t a clue,” Caroline recalls the early days of her father’s journey with the disease, which began in the early 1990s.

Subsequently, Vincent Rushe, was one of about six men brought together by social worker, Maggie King, to form a support group in the city.

It eventually expanded to become what is now the Galway Parkinson’s Association, but it may have been the arrival of Paddy Browne, a nurse specialist from Monivea, that started the charity on its current path.

“Ann O’Connell was our chairperson in the early 2000s, and was really trying to develop things, she could see the bigger picture, and was very progressive,” Caroline says.

“Paddy came to one of our meetings, and he said that he was going to the UK to get trained as a Parkinson’s Disease nurse. I was in awe of him, and we gave him a couple of hundred Euro towards his training.

“He really gelled the whole Parkinson’s thing – all of a sudden we were something, and people were beginning to recognise us more.”

It was in the charity’s early days that Marie Cahill came looking for help when her mother, Kitty, was diagnosed at just 52 years of age.

“It was a whole new experience, and we didn’t know what was going to happen – we didn’t know anything,” she recalls.

“I wasn’t even in my 30s, and my Mum had very progressive Parkinson’s, she needed 24-hour care, and couldn’t communicate or walk.

“At the first meeting I went to, I was thinking ‘what am I doing?’ but I found support in that I could relay some of what was happening at home and ask questions – they became my other family.”

The charity, which receives no government funding and relies entirely on donations and fundraising to meet its annual costs of around €50,000, could only go so far, however – dealing with the public service would be its biggest challenge yet.

For a start, Paddy Browne was only employed as a specialist nurse on a temporary basis by the HSE.

“We had to make sure he was in full time employment – he was the link between the consultant and patient – so we spoke to Noel Grealish TD, who organised a meeting with Mary Harney (Minister for Health),” says Marie.

“I assumed that I was only going as support, and that Dr Tim Counihan (consultant) would be meeting with the Minister, but I was allowed in and to give my input.

 

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

No end in sight for work on junction near Galway Clinic

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From the Galway City Tribune – The City Council has declined to set a date for the completion of the Martin roundabout replacement near Galway Clinic – which was due to have opened more than a month ago.

In a statement, the Council would only confirm that the project was over 50 per cent completed.

“The project is now progressing to the surface type works including the installation of roadside kerbs, provision of footpaths and cycle lanes and road surfacing. These elements of the works will progress quite rapidly over the next month and there will be more of an appreciation for the progress on this project and the final layout will start to become apparent,” said a spokesperson.

“Ducting and preparatory works for the traffic signal installation is in progress and installation of the lights themselves will commence once the majority of surface works are complete. The final phase of the works will consist of significant landscaping of the junction.”

Work began on the junction in February, with an expected six-month schedule.

“There have been some delays to the programme as a result of industry-wide, supply-chain issues related to the war in Ukraine. There has also been further delays due to rock being encountered on site.

Rock was expected, however the hardness of the rock has been greater than anticipated and as such, has been slower to break and excavate on site,” according to the Council.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article and to support our journalism, see the October 7 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Docklands Festival set to make a big splash in the city!

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The city’s link to the sea is to be celebrated later this month with the staging of the inaugural Galway Docklands Festival featuring a range of culinary treats, sea tours, demonstrations and talks.

Running from the weekend of Friday, October 21 to Sunday, October 23, the event has the aim of celebrating the city’s bond with the sea and the local waterways network.

Organised by the Galway Hooker Sailing Club, Galway Bay Boat Tours and Galway Bay Seafoods, the spectacle has a packed schedule of events – many of them free – through each of its three days.

The ‘pay events’ – ranging from €5 to €15 – include a coffee morning, beer and seafood sampling as well as an historical boat tour of the Claddagh and Galway Bay (€15).

Boatbuilder Cóilín Ó hIarnáin will be giving free demonstrations of his skills on each of the three days; Ciaran Oliver will give a walking tour of the seafront (€10); while there will also be a free Galway Hooker rigging demonstration.

For the more adventurous, there are supervised powerboard ‘taster spins’ (€10) while for ‘the foodies’ the Galway Bay Seafoods fish’n’chips, the Hooker beer and seafood sampling, as well as the family cooking demonstrations – all priced at €10 each – look set to be big attractions.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see the October 7 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Mayor told to stay away from homecoming over funding snub

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From the Galway City Tribune – The Mayor of Galway was asked to stay away from homecoming celebrations for extreme adventurer Damian Browne, the Galway City Tribune understands.

Mayor Clodagh Higgins was told that she was not to attend the event at the Docks on Tuesday as there had been disappointment in the ‘Project Empower’ camp that funding had not been made available from Galway City Council.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that Project Empower, which is led by Voluntary Manager MacDara Hosty, applied for €30,000 in funding from the local authority’s Marketing Fund in September 2021, but was deemed ineligible.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council confirmed this week that Project Empower did not meet the criteria set down by the fund which seeks to support the holding of major events and festivals in the city.

In documents seen by this newspaper, Project Empower proposed that Galway City Council be the title partner at a cost of €30,000 plus VAT.

The Tribune understands that the Council’s refusal to provide this funding was at the root of the Mayor’s snub on Tuesday, which drew attention online as members of the public questioned her absence.

When contacted, the Mayor refused to be drawn on questions relating to the Marketing Fund, but said it was her intention to offer a Civic Reception to Damian Browne at the nearest opportunity.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story and extensive coverage of Damian Browne’s homecoming, see the October 7 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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