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Connacht Tribune

Unhappy history

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Front view of St Brigid's Hospital, Ballinasloe. In 1951, Ballinasloe had a population of 5,600 people, 2,100 of whom were patients of St Brigid’s Psychiatric Hospital. Photo: Gerry Stronge.

Lifestyle –  How state asylums like St Brigid’s in Ballinasloe defined psychiatry in Ireland for generations and became an intrinsic part of the country for more than a century. Judy Murphy talks to Brendan Kelly about his latest book on the subject.

Home. It’s a small, powerful word that conjures up images of people and places and the inextricable bonds that bind them.  The many manifestations of home will be discussed at this year’s Galway International Arts Festival via 18 talks, debates and discussions which will explore everything from the monastic beehive huts of the Skelligs – which were home to medieval monks – to homes in fiction, and Ireland’s institutional homes, including our mental asylums. These mental hospitals, including St Brigid’s in Ballinasloe, will be the subject of a talk from Galway city man Brendan Kelly from Renmore, who is Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College and Consultant Psychiatrist at Tallaght Hospital.

Brendan, whose latest book is Hearing Voices: The History of Psychiatry in Ireland, will be sharing his vast knowledge of mental health in Ireland from medieval times to the present day, with a focus on the State asylums that sprung up in the 18th century and became an intrinsic part of Ireland for more than 100 years.

In the 1950s, Ireland had more in-patients in psychiatric hospitals than any other country in the world, before or since, says Brendan, giving Ballinasloe as an example. In 1951, the town had a population of 5,600 people, 2,100 of whom were patients of St Brigid’s Psychiatric Hospital.

“If nearly half the town is made up of patients, the other half is either working there or supplying it,” he explains of the hospital’s importance to the town.

That meant, even when there was a will at Government level to move people out of these institutions into less restrictive environments or back into the community, social and economic factors combined to keep mental hospitals busy until the mid-20th century.

Brendan’s practical and academic knowledge of mental health in Ireland is phenomenal and he’s able to explain complex subjects in lay person’s language. He’s passionate about the subject and how it relates to all our lives.

The Renmore man graduated in medicine from UCG in 1996 and then worked in the Regional Hospital (now UHG) and Merlin Park for two years before moving to Dublin to continue his post-graduate training in psychiatry. He’s been there since. And he’s been busy.

As well as lecturing in and practising psychiatry, Brendan “did a series of other degrees along the way”, including a PhD in history, one in law and another in governance. He also has a Masters in epidemiology and one in healthcare management.

“I’m interested in lots of areas as they relate to mental health and psychiatry,” he explains, adding that psychiatry and mental health have links with “the broader worlds of history and law”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Galway passengers are all smiles at Shannon!

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Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport

The smiles on the faces at Shannon Airport very much told its own story this week – with passengers taking to skies as the easing of restrictions and the first day of the European Digital COVID Certificates took effect.

And it wasn’t just the joy of travel starting to resume that lifted spirits at the airport but also the announcement by Ryanair of a new once-weekly service to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) to commence on August 7 – the third new service announcement for Shannon Airport over recent weeks.

There was a real sense of excitement as passengers of all ages became very much at ease with the heightened public safety measures in a ‘back-to-the-future’ day for the West of Ireland gateway airport.

There were reunions as inbound flights arrived but also a palpable degree of anticipation as others got set to depart on the earliest flight out of the airport today, the 7:10am flight to Gatwick.

Among those boarding was Clarenbridge native Claire Tomlin and her husband Jake, together with their three children, including their twins who turn a year old next week.

“It’s been amazing to get back. The kids saw their grandparents for the first time and their cousins and aunties and uncles, so it was fantastic,” said Claire.

“Shannon is just so convenient for us because it’s only about 40 minutes’ drive. So, it just makes everything a lot easier in terms of getting to and from places with little ones. So, yeah, Shannon is a great resource for us. Really, really good. We hope to be able to go back more and more.”

It was smiles all around for Shannon Airport staff as they got back to doing what they do best. “Well, today is a great day because you can see the atmosphere around the place, people are at ease here and they’re glad to be back, they’re glad to get up in the sky again,” said Shannon Duty Free Sales Associate Helen Quinlivan.

“It’s great to see the excitement. People are really looking forward to going back and seeing their loved ones and they’re very at ease.”

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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A man lies on a bed of nails at the opening of Galway Shopping Centre, Headford Road, on October 26, 1972

1921

Silence is golden

Leaders on both sides have stated that the best assistance the country can give in the making of peace is to keep silence.

During the past week there has been a great deal of speculation, most of it harmless enough, as, for instance, the enterprising American journalist’s “exclusive” on the first meeting of the British Premier and the President of the Irish Republic; much of it positively mischievous, as the case of the efforts of a certain journal, which has grown hoary in the reputation for throwing in the apple of discord, to anticipate failure in advance.

Our American colleague was on surer and on safer ground when he told of how de Valera and Lloyd George met.

“Mr. Lloyd George,” he cabled, “was sitting at his desk when the Irish President entered. For just a minute these two gazed fixedly at one another. Then the British Premier walked across the intervening space and shook de Valera by the hand. He led him to a seat where they sat side by side. The atmosphere was tense. They faced one another. Then Lloyd George reached down for a box of cigars. But the Irish President is of Spartan mould. He neither permits himself to drink nor smoke. He politely but firmly waved the box away. Mr. Lloyd George, however, selected and lighted a Havana, and as the smoke curled upwards the atmosphere became decidedly easier!”

Good planning

The wise and practical man always lays by a store against the time when supplies will be scarce. One of the most serious effects of the prolonged drought is the scarcity of supplies of fodder for cattle-feeding during the coming winter and spring.

The hay crop is not more than half the average yield. The corn crop is far below normal. Turnips in many districts are a partial failure. We have frequently emphasised the importance of growing catch-crops to supplement other feeding stuffs raised on the farm, but it is only under circumstances such as the present that their utility is brought home to farmers. Owing to the early harvest, a larger area than is usual can and should be put down this season. This would make good, to some extent, at least, the shortage of hay and other feeding-stuffs.

The demonstration plots laid down by the County Committee of Agriculture have shown that catch-crops, such as vetches and rye as well as other mixtures, can be successfully grown in all parts of County Galway.

We would urge on farmers the desirability – nay, the necessity – of procuring seed and making early preparation for the sowing of an increased area of catch-crops this season.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

A home that can generate rent!

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Stonebridge House

New to the market is this lovely, extremely deceptive and impressive home situated only 450 metres from Clarinbridge village.

Stonebridge House is located on a fine site with a tarmacadam driveway, mature shrubs and trees, water feature, decked area and stables to the rear all adding to the many delightful features of this well-built home.

It was built in 1982 and extended in 1993, creating a bright, spacious home which is perfect for today’s busy, modern family lifestyle.

The main house is a six-bed residence with a two-bedroomed basement apartment offering 3,000 sq ft of family living accommodation.

This makes this property perfect for multi-generational living or should you wish to rent out the basement apartment, can provide you with extra income.

The welcoming half front door takes you into the hallway where there is a ground floor bedroom to your left and to your right. Further down the hallway to your right leads you into the spacious kitchen/dining area perfect for family life and entertaining, with plenty of storage space, a Stanley range cooker set into a gorgeous cream brick inglenook with an added feature of a back boiler that heats the water and radiators.

There is an office/media room off the kitchen which every house needs nowadays, as today’s family spends more and more time on the web.

Double doors open to the large tastefully decorated sitting room with a feature fireplace and a solid fuel stove. The den area is filled with natural light with plenty of windows and patio doors opening onto the garden and patio area. Also on this floor is a guest toilet.

Upstairs on the first floor is the spacious landing with built-in storage cupboards and leading to four fine bedrooms and the main bathroom. Another bonus to this beautiful home is the installation of a convenient central vacuum system which is known for its removal of allergens and dust when cleaning and not having to drag a vacuum from room to room!

The asking price is €495,000. For further information or to arrange a viewing, contact DNG Brian MacMahon on 091 638638.

 

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