It was not just the driving winds and rain that hit Galway with unrelenting vigour on Tuesday as many numerous charities, community groups, and research organisations received a visit from President Mary McAleese who during her whirlwind whistle-stop tour of the city and county praised the excellent work and the valuable resources being created.
The tour began early with a visit to the youth support centre, Jigsaw Galway, in Mary Street where President McAleese thanked the staff for their work in caring for the mental wellbeing of young people.
“Here in Jigsaw there is just the kind of positive energy, warmth, openness, acceptance, and friendship that is needed to help our young citizens who are experiencing problems in their lives,” she said.
Programme manager for Jigsaw Galway, John Fitzmaurice, said: “The president has placed a huge emphasis on developing strength and resiliency in communities. This is heartening, since embedded in the Jigsaw approach, is the aim to equip young people, families, and communities to become more aware of the strengths and resources they possess, in overcoming difficult times.”
From there President McAleese was whisked away to the official opening of the Croí na Gallimhe Resource Centre for disadvantaged people in Mill Street which is run by the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Next stop for the President was St Joseph’s Patrician College, Nuns Island, and then on to to the Tuam Cancer Care Support and Information Centre at Temple Jarlath Court for the official opening where volunteers and health workers were praised for their selfless work.
Speaking at the opening President McAleese said: “There are many families in the area for whom cancer of one sort or another is now part of their everyday life... Not every individual or family has the appropriate and necessary coping skills immediately to hand and so a centre like this can become their rock, their guide through unchartered territory.
“So thank you to the users of the centre, to the community of Tuam which contributes to the centre’s support, to those who work here, those who make the work happen, and to all those who are working hard as nurses, doctors, and researchers to treat cancer and to find cures.”
Later on Tuesday afternoon, President McAleese was welcomed at the Irish Wheelchair Association’s Resource and Outreach Centre in Tuam where she was brought on a guided tour by IWA’s CEO Kathleen McLoughlin and Tuam CE supervisor Maggie Woods.
The centre, which provides a variety of services to people with physical disabilities living in the community on a daily basis, is an essential facility for up to 80 people with limited mobility.
“In these tight times, with reduced funding sources, we are doing our very best to avoid cutting the essential services we provide to our members in their own homes and in the community. We rely heavily on fundraising to allow us to continue to provide vital services in our local communities, and I would like to thank the community in Tuam for their continued support,” said Ms McLoughlin during the President’s visit.
It was at the Marine Institute Headquarters in Oranmore where President McAleese’s visit to Galway concluded, however there was no end to the praise heaped on the institute for its “valuable role in ensuring the economic and job-creating potential” of marine resources are fully realised.
President McAleese said: “The work of the institute these past 20 years has been to ensure that we have the insfrastructure needed to put this great natural resource to work... As the resources of the ocean become ever more implicated in the future development of high technologies sectors like energy, ICT, medical, and pharma, they will be a key part of Ireland’s future economic story. Our economic recovery will in part rest on this institute’s capacity for ensuring that Ireland’s marine resources are translated into economically viable ideas which deliver jobs, efficiencies, and solid prosperity for our people.”