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Supporting parents in dark hours of tragedy



It was American president Dwight D. Eisenhower who once stated: “There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.”

Unfortunately there is no shortage of Galway parents out there who will know the true meaning of his wise words.

Nationally, 2,500 families have to endure the experience every year. A 2011 survey found that six out of ten people in Ireland know someone who has experienced the death of a child.

No matter what age the son or daughter or the circumstances of their death, to bury a child is unnatural.

Phil Lally knows all too well how unnatural the experience truly is. In 2004 her beloved son Eamon Óg died in a fall while on a month-long holiday in Barcelona.

The student teacher was just 20 and about to return home the following day when the accident happened.

“It was horrific really. We had to go out to Spain. Now, the Department of Foreign Affairs for us were excellent, they were very, very good to us, but I often think that wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was someone you could liaise with, if somebody was assigned to you because you’re in such a state of shock you may not ask the right questions but you may want to a few years down the road,” she recalls.

A former student of hers in Scoil Mhuire in Ballinasloe, Catherine Leonard, experienced her own tragedy when her baby died.

After informally meeting other grieving parents at the Children’s Hospital in Dublin, Catherine helped set up Anam Cara, the support group established in 2007 to provide assistance to bereaved parents.

The name, Anam Cara, is the title of a 1997 bestseller on Celtic spirituality by late author, poet and ex-priest John O’Donohue who was based in Galway.

Literally translated as soul friend, the name originated in Irish monasticism where it was applied to a monk’s spiritual advisor.

For parents who experience the sudden death of a child outside of a hospital or hospice, they have no access to bereavement support, explains Phil.

The group, which has seven regional support groups across the island, allows grieving parents to link up with each other and get group counselling from a professional psychotherapist or counsellor free of charge.

The focus of the monthly parent evenings is on ‘peer support with appropriate professional intervention’.

“The devastation families experience after the death of their child often leads to feelings of isolation, despair and loneliness,” explained CEO Sharon Vard.

“For some families the death may have been expected through illness or a life-limiting condition, for others, it was unexpected through stillbirth, an accident, suicide or substance abuse.

“We focus on the similarities of our loss rather than the differences and have found a level of support and understanding that others cannot offer”

Contact Anam Cara on 01 4045378 or 0879637790.


For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.


Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.

The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.

“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.

He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.

Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.

The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.

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‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.

Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.

Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.

He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.

“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.

“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.

In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.

Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place



The helipad on the former Shantalla pitch.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.

Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.

The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.

Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.

Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.

Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.

Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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