It has been a strange week newswise. Sometimes it’s as if all the planets align and sagas and dramas that have been playing out for years of a news cycle, cross each others path like ships in the night.
This has been the case over the past few days. When three of the biggest infrastructural and cultural projects to hit Galway over the past decade have, like those ships, all simultaneously docked in othe newscycle of our consciousness.
Is there a facility in Galway that has generated such goodwill over the last few decades as the Galway Hospice? There probably isn’t a family in the west of Ireland who has not been touched by the use of its services.
I first wrote about the hospice decades ago when I visited the then new building to publicise the sort of environment that was required for those suffering from a terminal illness. Back then, the Hospice was a place you went for end of life treatment solely. News of someone’s demise would have been preceded by the line. “sure I heard he went into the hospice a while back....” For the 1990s, it was the equivalent of that 1980s line about so-and so going into hospital, and the doctors taking one look at him and sending him home to die.
But that has all changed now. No longer is Galway Hospice a place where to put if bluntly, people go to see out their last days. Such have been the advances in palliative care, and in the earlier diagnoses of cancers and other illnesses, that end of life care does not necessarily mean end of life.
This is good news, but it has placed additional pressures on the Galway Hospice for space and resources. Not only does it provide palliative care which may be delivering treatments that alleviate the symptoms of people with life-limiting illnesses. It also has several beds which are used for respite purposes, and we are all well aware of the importance of respite to patients, families, and their carers.
This week, the Galway Hospice will submit the application for planning permission for its new hospice, to be located on the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital on lands currently owned by the HSE, but which will be legally transferred to the hospice on the successful granting of that planning permission.
The current hospice was a fine building in its day — it was designed to have that homely feel about it, to have less of the cold clinical style that marks out treatment centres. And that it did have, but now it is probably no longer fit for the range of demands that have been placed upon it, and the plans for the new building show a construction that will have the concept of healing and restorative powers at its soul.
The debate about the placing of the new Hospice will no doubt run and run, and in this week’s Advertiser, you can read the opinions of both sides of this planning matter.
The other projects to come to the fore in Galway this week, (apart from Galway United’s Saudi accession ) were the Palas which opened yesterday afternoon; and the Galway 2020 team which on Tuesday met with city councillors to explain recent developments in the governance.
The 2020 team told the councillors of the obstacles and the bumps in the road that have taken place. And there will be more bumps in the road, because that is the nature of such things. People come and people go. A team that takes the pitch may not always be the one that leaves it at end of play.
For the rest of us though, there is the bigger picture. Every saga will have its dramas and its personalities, its spats and its make-ups.
We hope that a concensus is achieved, and that Galway will have a hospice to provide the standard of care this region needs; and a Capital of Culture year to wow the rest of Europe.
In reality shows, we only ever remember the winners. Those who are evicted along the way are quickly forgotten about. Keep the eye on the big prize, forget the sideshows, the interval acts... and we are all winners.