Tuam babies to be remembered at special vigil during Pope’s visit
As Pope Francis begins saying mass at the Phoenix Park at 3pm this Sunday, more than 200 kilometres away in Tuam, survivors and families of the infants of the town’s infamous mother and baby home, and their supporters, will gather for a peaceful vigil.
There’ll be a procession from the Square in Tuam, up the Dublin Road to the site where hundreds of babies were buried at the former religious-run institution. They’ll light candles, and leave memorabilia, including children’s shoes, at the site; and there’ll be a rollcall of the 796 names of the children buried there.
A sculpture two feet in diameter in the shape of a baptismal font made up of miniature babies, donated by Belgian sculptor, Martine Stark, will be placed at the site.
“You could say it’s kind of a funeral for them,” said Catherine Corless, the historian who revealed the mass graves.
One woman in England, Annette McKay, whose sister is buried at the site, has been campaigning since Ms Corless broke the story.
“If she had to stand alone she was going to do it. I said we would all come onboard. We’re expecting a good crowd. It’s a peaceful vigil, to coincide with the mass in Phoenix Park, to put awareness out there about the babies in the septic tank in Tuam in the hope that the Pope, as well as addressing the victims of sex abuse, will also address the survivors of mother and baby homes around the country and in Tuam in particular,” she said.
Ms Corless said that “deep down we believe the Government are trying to cover this over as quietly as they can and to minimise the fact that so many children are lying in that area, both in the tank and in the grounds that are being walked on.”
Survivors hope Pope Francis will acknowledge the Tuam babies during his visit.
“The Vatican really and truly have to wake up to the facts of what happened in Ireland and other countries, as well as the paedophilia there was so much wrongdoing with the church and religious orders and the State.
“I believe that it would carry a lot of weight if Pope Francis were to say that he acknowledges that the babies are buried in Tuam in an unchristian fashion and that he is aware of it and he is aware that survivors are still waiting for justice. Just to mention that in his homily in the Phoenix Park would carry a lot of weight,” she added.
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One of Galway oldest residents celebrates 104th birthday
One of Galway’s oldest residents celebrates her 104th birthday last week – with her zest for life as healthy as ever!
Mary O’Leary has lived at the Little Flower Nursing Home, Labane, Ardrahan, for the past twelve years, and she was joined by family and friends there for her special day.
Little Flower proprietor Joan Gardiner Surman revealed that the sprightly centenarian still likes to keep up-to-date with current events – not to mention a dollop of celebrity gossip!
“Mary is an avid reader; she loves thrillers and romance,” said Joan.
“She keeps herself informed by reading the daily paper and loves Hello magazine, she has a huge interest in the Royal family.”
Born Mary Quinn on May 23 1919 in Ballinlisheen, Tubber, Co. Clare to John Quinn and Mary Kate McKague, Mary never saw her father as he passed away before she was born – leaving her an only child.
She attended Boston National School and Gort Secondary School, and from a young age, she on the family farm.
Mary married her husband Joe O’ Leary in Tubber Church in 1948, and they lived in Ballinlisheen until Joe passed away in July 1997.
Mary then relocated to Gort town, and subsequently moved to the Little Flower Nursing Home, Labane, Ardrahan on October 14 2011 where she has had a very fulfilled few years.
She celebrated her birthday in the Little Flower Nursing Home Tuesday, May 23, surrounded by her family, the wonderful staff who take such great care of her, and all the residents of the Little Flower.
She had a wonderful party with local musicians Peter Gardiner, Pat O’Neill and Vincent Mullins providing the entertainment.
And Mary also received a lovely letter of congratulations from President Michael D. Higgins along with a beautiful commemorative medal.
(Photo: Mary O’Leary celebrates her 104th birthday with her cousin Pat Lahiff and his wife Noeleen from Peterswell).
Database will provide permanent insight into Galway’s cultural history
A major audit of oral recordings of stories, family histories and memories is being undertaken in East Galway – to preserve them for future generations before reels and cassettes are lost forever.
A similar exercise in Donegal yielded 4,000 items for their database. One in Kilkenny has uncovered 1,000 recordings.
Led by oral historian Dr Tomás Mac Conmara, the first phase of the project will not seek to collect the items but rather record what is out there, who is preserving it and whether it is accessible to the public.
A later stage will extend the database across Galway.
No recording is too insignificant to be part of the Audit of Oral Heritage Recordings in East Galway, insists Tomás.
“If there is a recorded memory of a family member, we’d urge you to make contact with us. If you have a 95-year-old woman in the 1980’s talking about her childhood, that’s so valuable,” he says.
“It contributes to our understanding of life in her area, it may have relevance to other farming communities in say County Derry, it can have an entirely different interest to someone in a different community.”
The project is also open to those not living in East Galway but they may have a family member who once came from there. Contact from members of the Galway diaspora are very welcome.
Now is the time to identify what has been created, particularly with reel-to-reel recordings and those on cassettes before they become unplayable and obsolete, he explains.
“If you have a box of tapes, there may not be a lot of information about what’s on them. We have all the equipment to listen to all file formats so we can help people and community groups to sort through their material.”
The brainchild of Galway County Council’s Heritage Officer Marie Mannion, the project will work with community groups, historians, and collectors either online or in their communities to document what has been saved.
The stories, memories and folklore will be collected by October and the list will be available to the public online.
The audit will help to identify priorities for future recording work, according to Marie Mannion.
“We would really appreciate people’s help in identifying oral history recordings or collections held by community groups and individuals so that we get as complete a picture as possible as to the current volume and extent of recordings,” she stated.
It will likely be a significant resource for historians, scholars, the education system as well as the general public.
For information contact Mac Conmara Heritage Consulting on 087 916 073 or by email at email@example.com.
EV charging points in County Galway falling well short of requirements
Access to electric vehicle charging points across the county is falling massively short of requirements.
The matter was subject of a heated debate during last week’s meeting of Galway County Council – with some councillors claiming that there was only one public EV charging point along a 50 mile stretch.
But Chief Executive Liam Conneally told councillors that while the process was slow to roll out, a three-phase electrical supply would be provided at strategic locations.
He said that the Council would be discussing a strategy for the provision of EV points with the Department of Local Government and would be accepting submissions from the public.
Mr Conneally also confirmed that there would be a public consultation in advance of the roll-out of the charging points.
A clearly frustrated Cllr Alastair McKinstry (Green) said that information had been sought regarding the locations and number of EV points across County Galway but that this was not forthcoming.
He said that councillors needed to come forward with a list of locations where they feel charging points should be located before any strategy is adopted by Galway County Council.
The Connemara Area councillor said that the public had accepted the challenge to change over to electric vehicles but that this should have been met with an appropriate number of charging points.
“We are not being told how many charging points there will be or where they will be located. In fact, information is in very short supply.
“In order to avoid there being black spots around the county, the Council has an obligation to ensure that funding is provided to ensure that there will be a sufficient number for motorists to avail of,” added Cllr McKinstry.
Cllr Eileen Mannion (FG) said that there was only one EV charging point between Clifden and Galway city and asked that this situation be improved if motorists were to be encouraged to change over to electric.
“In the Connemara area we are way behind when it comes to charging points,” the Clifden-based councillor added.
Cllr Andrew Reddington (FG) said that charging points were being provided by private businesses, mainly supermarkets, but added that the Council should not be relying on this sector to do their work for them.
Director of Services Derek Pender said that it was easy to understand the frustration involved in this process, but the Council were addressing the situation as quickly as they could.
He said that the ultimate aim was for a zero emissions Ireland, but he stressed “we are not trying to ram this down anybody’s throats”.