Five years ago today, this city and county was reeling from the shock that a young languages student had been attacked and murdered just 10 minutes away from the city centre. In the half decade since, the name of Manuela Riedo has become known in nearly every household in this region. More so than the dozen or so other people who has lost their lives violently in Galway city and county over the past decade or so. The memory of Manuela though has been kept strong by the randomness of the incident and the fact that Ms Riedo was but a few days into her trip to Galway. It was an incident that sent shockwaves through the region as a collective sense of shame and guilt was verbalised, as people rushed to protect the notion that Galway was a safer place to be after dark than any other. We now know that it was not, as several other serious fatal and non-fatal violent atacks in the city centre have since illustrated.
This week, the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick is experiencing the same feeling. It is keen to tell the world that, like Galway, it too is not known for the sort of attack that happened last week when Irishwoman Jill Meagher was attacked as she made her way home after a night out with friends. Brunswick is no stranger to crime, but it too is shocked by the nature of this attack.
Certain crimes hit certain chords in our consciousness but this should not in any way diminish the importance of the tragedy of the other fatal attacks that have taken place and were no less shocking.
The spirt of Manuela and the tragic conenction with this city has been turned into a positive thing by the work of the Manuela Riedo Foundation which has kept her memory alive. Over the course of the past five years, this foundation has raised in excess of €100,000, all of which has gone on to fund necessary developments and facilities in the local rape crisis centre. Counselling and education, that would otherwise have gone unprovided, has been provided because of the funding from this foundation.
Since 2010, an astonishing 188 educational workshops have taken place in schools and colleges as a result of funding from The Manuela Riedo Foundation Ireland. In 2009, only two workshops occurred before this vital funding was put in place. These workshops have directly reached approximately 5,000 young people. It is to be hoped that from this will spring a better awareness and respect for all people so that we do not have such tragic events unfolding in the future.
This Saturday, 'A Night For Manuela' fundraising concert will be held once again at The Salthill Hotel.A wonderful line-up of musicians has been announced including, Frankie Gavin & De Dannan, Paddy Casey. Trad on the Prom, The 4 of Us (Acoustic Set ), Don Baker, Johnny Duhan, Ashley Tubridy, Lucia Evans, and Frank Naughton. The evening is an uplifting celebration of the life and legacy of Manuela Riedo and we hope in some way it helps to heal the hurt felt by the families of all victims of senseless crime. Manuela’s parents Hans Peter and Arlette will once again travel on this sad day in their history to be with the people who outside of themselves, feel the most hurt from that entire episode, the people of Galway.
We welcome you again and hope that as the years go by, your pain may be easing as the legacy of your dear daughter is felt in ways of she would have entirely approved, had she not left this life five years ago.