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Tackling the West’s biggest killer

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Date Published: 21-Feb-2008

DR MARK De Costa is a heart surgeon by choice – but a spokesperson by necessity. In the past few weeks, this highly specialised consultant has been leaving the theatre after a day’s work to undertake his own public relations circuit in a bid to inform the public that heart surgery is now provided at University Hospital Galway.

Since being appointed to his post at the hospital in October 2006, Dr De Costa has been striving to help develop what is the first cardiac surgery unit in this part of the country.

But it has been an ongoing struggle for the Singapore-born heart and lung surgeon. Chief amongst his problems has been an ongoing battle with the Health Service Executive over staffing levels and the need for more beds in the unit.

But another surprising obstacle has been encountered in informing the people of the west of the new surgical facility.

Heart disease is on the rise in Ireland – this year, it will kill more people across the country than any other single illness. The problem is massive, but in spite of this, Dr De Costa and his fellow heart surgeon Dave Verissingham are not seeing the volume of patients they would have expected in a population that is known to be in the high risk category for developing heart disease.

“In high-risk populations, you should be seeing about a thousand open-heart cases per year per million population, and in the west of Ireland we are certainly not seeing anything close to that,” Dr De Costa said in an interview with The Connacht Tribune.

Dr De Costa believes there is still a ………………………..

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

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

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Archive News

Council has records for 50 Magdalen burials in the city

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Date Published: 04-Mar-2013

By Dara Bradley

Galway City Council has confirmed that 50 women who were living in the city’s Magdalen Laundry are buried in Bohermore Cemetery.

The local authority has also clarified that it is in possession of all records in respect of each of the women, including their names, date of burial and plot numbers.

Meanwhile, the Sisters of Mercy have proposed that a headstone with the women’s names on them would be erected at the burial plots of the Magdalen women in the cemetery.

Jim Smith, a professor of English in Boston College, and board member of the Justice for Magdalens campaign, claimed last week that there was uncertainty as to how many women were buried in two plots at the graveyard. He also claimed that the identity of those buried in Bohermore.

But following a series of questions put forward by City Councillor Billy Cameron (Labour), Director of Services Ciarán Hayes has clarified the position.

In a statement in reply to Cllr Cameron, Mr Hayes said there are 50 women in the cemetery, the earliest of which dates back to 1924.

He also confirmed that the Council has records in respect of the women buried in Bohermore.

He said he had engaged with the Sisters of Mercy over the past few weeks in relation to this matter and he acknowledged their “open and constructive engagement” during efforts to cross-check records.

He added: “The Sisters of Mercy have proposed the erection of headstones at Bohermore with the names of the women and date they died. This will coincide with an appropriate service to be organised by the Sisters of Mercy.”

Last week Cllr Cameron called for sensitivity the families of those who are buried in Bohermore and Mr Hayes has echoed these sentiments.

“A consistent theme arising throughout the consultation was the sensitivity of the issue. At one level, apologies and compensation was demanded while at the other, families of some of the women requested anonymity. I would be grateful if, in the course of any future debate on this issue, the wishes of the families are respected,” Mr Hayes added.

Cllr Cameron welcomed the clarity from City Hall. He agreed it was important that headstones be provided for women who are buried in Bohermore but also stressed that if families want anonymity, then their wishes should be respected.

It was too sensitive an issue, he added.

Mr Hayes clarification comes the day after a vigil was held at the former Magdalen Laundry on Forster Street on Sunday afternoon.

 

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Tribesman rally to draw in Tuam after letting big lead slip

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Date Published: 07-Mar-2013

Galway 0-13

Westmeath 1-10

Dara Bradley at Tuam Stadium

HALF-time at Tuam Stadium on Sunday and the result appeared a foregone conclusion. Galway were leading Westmeath by six points and had the advantage of a stiff enough wind at their backs after the break playing into the town goal, the traditional scoring end.

Given that Galway had faded badly against Derry in the second half but still won the opening round; and that they’d collapsed in the second half against Louth last weekend in Drogheda, losing by six, nobody among the 1,000-plus crowd in Tuam would have rushed to put their house on them winning . . . but you wouldn’t have bet against them either.

The Tribesmen were in full control against the Division Two table-toppers, leading 0-8 to 0-2 at the turnaround, but once again, like an Alka Seltzer tablet plonked into a pint of water, their challenge dissolved too easily in the second half. The main positive, however, was Galway didn’t disintegrate altogether.

This group of players is lacking in confidence at the minute, and that mental frailty was evident for periods in the second 35 minutes when Westmeath got a run on them. But Galway did show fortitude and resolve in the closing stages to avert an embarrassment and to salvage a draw, when the result could have gone either way.

Indeed had they possessed a tad more composure in the dying minutes then Alan Mulholland’s charges might have scraped a win, although in fairness to Westmeath, they deserved a share of the spoils.

One has to wonder what’s happening in the ten minutes between the first half and the second. What is or isn’t going-on in the Galway dressing room? The statistics show that Galway’s performance has dipped dramatically in the second half of the three league games so far this season.

Against Derry they conceded eight points in the second half; they conceded nine in the second half against Louth; and now they’ve let in 1-8 against Westmeath after the break, losing the second half by six points, 1-8 to 0-5. Mulholland, after the Derry match, identified that the performance levels in the second half needed improvement but while the diagnosis may be right, on the evidence of the Louth game and this second half collapse against Westmeath, they haven’t quite found the cure yet.

It’s a pity, because there was much to admire about Galway’s opening half performance. The defence appeared solid, particularly the half-back line which was bolstered by the return from injury of Gary O’Donnell to the wing, and switching Johnny Duane from the corner to centre-back with Gary Sice moving to the flank.

Midfield had a nice balance to it, too. Niall Coleman and Antaine ‘Toto’ Ó Gríofa more than held their own in the opening half with the later providing a greater physical presence that was lacking the last day, and they kept Westmeath’s John Heslin and Denis Cooroon subdued.

In attack, Paul Conroy on the ‘40, was Galway’s main threat, and for much of the opening half Westmeath couldn’t live with him – the St James’ clubman scored three points before the break, earned two frees that were converted by Michael Meehan and was involved in the two movements that led to scores from Eoin Concannon and O’Donnell. In short, a couple of mistakes aside, Conroy was the difference between the sides at the turnaround.

With Ó Gríofa and Coleman getting the upper-hand in the kick-out battles, aided by Sice and O’Donnell who were hungry for breaking ball, Galway were 0-4 to 0-2 up after 19 minutes.

Westmeath failed to score for the remainder of the half, thanks to some poor shooting – they hit five first-half wides – and brave defending, as goalkeeper John Egan saved a shot from his Westmeath namesake, wing forward Ger Egan, and later on, Sice got his body in the way to deny Callum McCormack.

Galway were solid without being spectacular, and when Conroy, Michael Boyle, O’Donnell, and Conroy again on the stroke of half-time, landed four unanswered points, they were in pole position, six points to the good. But the wheels soon fell off Galway’s wagon.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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