Cody is a 6 year old Golden Retriever who lives a normal life like any other dog…mostly. Once a week, he puts on his Irish Therapy Dog uniform and trots through the door of the ICU in Portiuncula University Hospital (PUH), where his calming and comforting influence is felt in abundance.
Charlotte Carter, Clinical Nurse Manager, ICU explains, “A patient in ICU faces a potentially scary and dread-filled environment. The isolation and loneliness of not being able to interact with their own natural support system, family and friends can have a huge impact on their physical and psychological status. We initiated pet therapy as a non-pharmacological intervention for the mind and body and to create a more humanised environment for ICU patients and their families along with health care professionals.
“Cody made his first visit to the ICU recently to meet patients and staff. He received a warm welcome and of course lapped up all the attention. He is such a welcome visitor, bringing with him so much warmth. This interaction is a powerful thing to witness. You can stand back and simply watch as the positive energy fills the room.
“He will continue to visit the ICU for one hour every Thursday. Already he has brought a sense of healing along with all that unconditional love. Improving the patients’ experience and decreasing their suffering is what we desire for our unit,” says Charlotte.
Cody’s owner and handler Gary Mullin explains, “We found Cody when he was about five weeks old abandoned on the side of the road; from that moment he has continued to bring so much joy into my life and into the life of others. He has such a unique way with people, they just gravitate towards him. I felt there was an opportunity to share the impact that Cody has on me with more people through becoming a volunteer of the Irish Therapy Dogs who have been having a fantastic impact throughout Ireland for many years. We applied and were delighted to make it through the application process. We then became registered volunteers with Irish Therapy Dogs. Portiuncula University Hospital wanted to take part in the programme and so reached out to The Irish Therapy Dogs. Myself and Cody are so lucky to be the chosen visiting team for Portiuncula University Hospital.”
Every Thursday after a thorough brushing and grooming, Cody puts on his uniform and heads off to the hospital. He is warmly greeted by all the staff and by the time he reaches ICU he has already made a number of new friends. Once on the ward, like anyone else who visits PUH, he knows that hygiene is essential and clean paws are a priority. After a busy day he heads home for a well-earned rest and perhaps a little treat or two.
“The whole atmosphere in a room changes when a volunteer walks in with a dog”, says Brenda Rickard, CEO of Irish Therapy Dogs. “And it’s the dog that does it. If you think about it, dogs are probably the best therapists in the world because people feel they can be themselves. A dog doesn’t judge you and just rubbing a dog or looking at one relaxes people. Problems don’t go away but people forget them for a while. We’ve had some amazing reactions. People with Alzheimer’s remembering the names of the dogs, the time of the visit, people who don’t usually connect with other patients coming out of their rooms. We always knew that dogs had a huge impact on our wellbeing but now scientific research supports the theory and this is something our volunteers see every day.”
Cody is the highlight in the week for so many patients who look forward to his company. PJ Connor from County Roscommon got to spend some time with Cody during his time in ICU and said, “It’s a good idea to have interaction with an animal, you feel the better for it. It brings you to a happy place and it is a happier place to be in.”
See highlights from Cody’s visit to the ICU at
By Colm Croffy
Tim Broderick “I am proud, elated. It’s my third time to be elected as a county councillor. I found it, by far, to be the toughest campaign” said Tim. He criticised the redrawing of the electoral area, saying “The electoral area is spanning from Banagher Bridge up to Ballymoe. There’s no thought being put into that. I thought it would have been far more beneficial having five seats to the south of the electoral area. I thought it would’ve been more effective to take a seat out of the Ballinasloe electoral area. We’re now looking like we may be in the situation where we have three councillors in the North representing six and a half thousand people, and three in the south, representing seventeen thousand – there’s an imbalance there. This has been reflected nationally, with the absence of any real thought being put into any proper rural regeneration. I thought I would be in a battle for the fourth or fifth seat – I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d top the poll.” Regarding his future plans: Rural broadband, rural isolation, and the demise of Ballinasloe are firmly in his sights: "we need to revitalise Ballinasloe. We need to have people sitting around a table, devising and having a look at how we can make Ballinasloe the great town it once was. “Thanks to all those people that came out and supported me, and those who canvassed with me night after night”.
Michael Connolly "I see a huge opportunity for Ballinasloe. I see we have Medtech companies coming to this country, to places like Galway, which is very positive. With the Big Dig soon to be completed, I think we’re going to be a very modern town that’s open for business. The town is right in the middle of the country. It’s connected by road, rail, and has broadband, modern storage facilities, and modern water facilities – there’s a new state of the art building about to be built; the planning permission has been granted. I believe when those type of services are delivered, you provide a plan for clean room facilities that companies are looking for now. We can’t be dwelling on the past. We need to start looking to the future. I’d love to see the 50 bed unit built in Portiuncula Hospital. All of these new, modern developments to the area would not just give the town, but the outer regions like Kiltormer and Clontuskert a boost. The two biggest issues I faced on the doorsteps were poor broadband services and the dire state of the roads. Irrespective of where people live now, be it in an urban or a rural area, or they live on a country botharín, they’re paying their taxes; fuel taxes and carbon motor taxes – they’re all equally entitled to services, and I think service is going to have to be provided. Biggest issue in terms of Co Galway – we get €2.8 million from the equalisation of the property tax. Mayo get €13 million, Tipperary get €19 million, and Donegal get €21 million. We’re paying more in LPT than those areas, and we should be getting our fair return. More pressure is needed to be put on our Oireachtas members. Very special thanks to my director of elections, my son Patrick, and my wife who keeps me on the straight and narrow. To all the people who voted for me – a very special thanks."
Dermot Connolly "People are finding it difficult as regards to services being delivered. With roads being very poor, there’s a lot of issues in the rural part of the constituency. Broadband was a big issue that we found, and it needs to be delivered in areas where it currently can’t be achieved. In other areas, agriculture was an issue – it’s increasingly difficult to survive on small to medium holdings – there are uncertain days to come in the times ahead. We have a big need to provide the services that Galway County council can deliver, and to get our staff complement up to the proper level that’s required." When asked what his plans are for the next five years, Councillor Connolly said: “I hope to be able to engage with all the colleagues in Galway Council to try and force the funding issue to the fore. Whether that’s for crossroads or housing, for example in Ballinasloe town we have the roads network being upgraded now. Rates is a big issue for us small to medium businesses, and to ensure that we don’t impose any heavier sanctions on those, to try and increase a situation where businesses can thrive and town centres can develop. Roads network in rural areas is brought up to a proper standard. For transport, route 20 was recently downgraded, and that needs to be made a public service obligation. Flooding is another issue we heard about; communities like up in Clonfert are more or less being forgotten about, and we need to address their issues. “It was a great relief to get across the line, in a hard fought campaign with a small team of dedicated people, no more so than Gerard O’Reilly who lead us from the front. People really put their shoulders to the wheel and engaged with us, and for that I’m thankful. My wife Kaitija who has kept the home fires burning with three small kids. There were 12 candidates who put their name forward for election, and I salute every one of them for doing so.”
Peter Keavney Peter earns his living as a farmer and an Agricultural Contractor. Married to Mairead, they have a young family and a very busy household. He is the chairman of the Clane festival committee, President of the local drama group the Players, and also a member of Glenamaddy Musical Society as well as former chair of Glenamaddy Community Council and the IFA. Peter is interested in promoting the interests of the youth and of local families. “Rural towns have taken a hit, particularly over the few years in the economic downturn. Rates that apply to business people in those towns have been a major financial burden .At Council level we must work hard at influencing National Policy on rates. Ability to pay and a more equitable rate must apply to reduce this burden from businesses. We need a policy whereby the turnover and size of the business be taken into consideration rather than the current blanket charge which is unfair and inequitable. It is my intention to further this policy by mobilizing support at National Level within the Fine Gael party to get the appropriate changes made at Government level. I am delighted for my supporters, family and friends and look forward to working with all for the next 5 years.”
Declan Geraghty “This means an awful lot to me. It’s a fantastic achievement for all the people who were involved with me, the people who canvassed, the team, the community, and not only for me but for everybody in the area. To come from Williamstown, to get the chance to branch out, meet people and talk to them about their difficulties -I’m so excited and looking forward to it. I’d like to thank Marty Ward, outgoing councillor Des Joyce, Michael Fitzmaurice, as well as my wife, son and brother, my godmother Peggy, and everybody that helped out. “I was met with a lot of issues on the doorsteps. Broadband is a massive one, especially in the rural areas. In some villages, we heard that reception is available on one side of a house and not on another. Portiuncula Hospital was another huge issue and Roscommon Hospital also, alongside the overcrowding in University Hospital Galway. I don’t know if we can do anything to change that, but what we can do is try and influence how things get done. “Road and landscape maintenance were another problem that people brought up on the doorsteps. Byroads not being tarred, potholes, hedges and trees needing clipping - the usual stuff that goes on with the County Council. There’s an awful lot of work to be done, and hopefully by me getting elected, I may be able to bring a different change of view as to the way we can go about things. Hopefully, if we can all have the same vision then we can all do the best for our communities - I think that’s what it’s all about. Another thing that’s out there is the community manifesto – it’s a thing that’s not talked about. It’s where the community comes together, with little workshops around in different areas, based upon things the area requires. People need to come together and say “Look, this is what our community would like to learn about.”
Aisling Dolan “This is for everyone in East Galway, in Ballinasloe and Pollboy. It’s been a team effort. We’ve had thirty people or more working on our team, but it’s been everyone. We knocked on everyone’s door. I think that people who listened to us realised that what we were saying is what they wanted as well. In other words –how to bring jobs to the area we live in, how to save Portiuncula Hospital, how to make it a place to live, a place to work, a place to visit – this is what people want. It’s a love for what we have in the area, and I think that’s what made people join our team. How do we attract tourism, how do we tap into hidden heartlands. We have heritage, we have landscape, we have peatlands. We are going to have a greenway coming into Ballinasloe. We are going to have an option to attract people in and show them what a unique community we have. Community spirit, and just a great sense of people volunteering. People want to keep their towns and villages alive, and they want to have the jobs and the income to do it – it’s about things like flexible working, broadband, being able to work from home, being able to support farm incomes, as well as other ways to approach ecotourism, and how to help catering and accommodation in the area. My major priority is the 50 bed unit in PUH. It’s been promised and it hasn’t arrived yet. We have to protect that, and how we fight for that is huge. It would mean myself and our other councillors working with our national TDs to ensure we can get this across the line. I want a greenway in the town and that’s going to come. I suppose tapping into hidden heartlands, would involve working with all the businesses in Ballinasloe, with other heritage groups to showcase what a wonderful space we have. With that, building a business association in the town would be one of the key things I would like to see happen.
Maureen Cahalan of Cahalan Jewellers recently spoke to Ballinasloe life about BACD and Ballinasloe Life Magazine. Remember to shop local - visit www.cahalanjewellers.com for gifts, jewellery, engraving and much more :-)
Networking Event with presentations on the Town Enhancement Plan & Irelands Hidden Heartlands - June 18th, Shearwater Hotel
The Pulse Club in conjuction with Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre (BACD) and Shearwater Hotel & Spa will host a special networking event on June 18th centered around what the future holds for both new and existing businesses in Ballinasloe.
Ryan Hanly Consulting Engineers (on behalf of Galway County Council) will make a presentation on the town enhancement plan which we're sure will be of interest to many business owners in the town.
Mark McGovern, Manager of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands (Fáilte Ireland) will speak about the impact this exciting new initiative can have on the local economy and how Ballinasloe can benefit from it.
And finally, there will be a panel discussion with selected members of the Pulse Club who will share their experience around starting a new business venture in Ballinasloe within the last 6 months.
We encourage anyone who is interested in the business and economic growth of Ballinasloe to come along and network with like minded people.
To register for the event, click here
The 5th annual Cystic Fibrosis Cycle from Malin Head in Donegal to Mizen head in Cork was undertaken by 40 amateur volunteer cyclists recently, with local amateur cyclist Brian King undertaking the challenge for the first time this year. Brian was seen around the local highways and byways in the past few months training for the event. The cycle which is 620 km long, is a real test of stamina for volunteer cyclists and it is broken down into 4 manageable sections with lengths varying from 147km to 168km daily. The group of 40 amateur riders also require outriders on motorcycles and a support staff to transport the cyclists “gear” from place to place over the 4 days in late May. In this respect Cystic Fibrosis Ireland was hugely appreciative of the assistance of Fred Kilmartin, Ford Dealers who sponsored a new Ford Transit van for the duration of the cycle. Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that primarily affects the lungs and the digestive system. It affects 1300 individuals in Ireland. Funds raised by the cyclists (circa €100,000) will be used by CF Ireland to support families during periods of illness and/or hospitalisation, as well as research and equipment. Noel Madden from the Ballinasloe Branch of CF Ireland was a volunteer support driver for the duration of the Malin to Mizen challenge and was presented a van by Michael Kelly, Micheal Dean and Teresa Kilmartin, of Fred Kilmartin Motors Ltd for the challenge.
Although the cycle has completed, the fundraising campaign has not, and donations can still be made here: https://malin2mizen-cycle4cf-2019.everydayhero.com/ie/brians-spin
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