Family of late Jim Stynes help Galway organ donor commemorative garden project

From left:  Tess Stynes, Jason O’Connor, Garry O’Connor, Paddy Grehan, Mikey Conneely, Brian Stynes Snr and Mark O’Toole.

From left: Tess Stynes, Jason O’Connor, Garry O’Connor, Paddy Grehan, Mikey Conneely, Brian Stynes Snr and Mark O’Toole.

Souvenir bricks from the recently demolished stand of one of the oldest stadiums in the world are to be included in a national organ donor commemorative garden planned for Salthill thanks to the involvement of the family of the late Jim Stynes, the Dublin and Melbourne football hero who died last year.

They assisted the Galway charity, Strange Boat Donor Foundation, in procuring the representational bricks from the old stand at the iconic Melbourne Football Club for inclusion in the national garden.

Earlier this month at a special ceremony in Melbourne, five Spiddal men received the bricks from Jim’s parents, Tess and Brian Stynes, on behalf of the foundation.

Mikey Conneely from Spiddal travelled more than 1,000 miles with his Spiddal friends, all now living in Sydney, to meet the Stynes in Melbourne.

Mr Conneely, who set up his own construction services company, Mikcon Pty, in Sydney after emigrating to Australia in 2005, is sponsoring the Australian bricks in memory of his friend and Spiddal neighbour, Éamonn Goggin who died in a car crash in 2006. He was an organ donor.

His father, Denis, who set up Strange Boat Donor Foundation with his wife Martina following the loss of their son, spoke of the wonderful loyalty of Éamonn’s friends. He said this was a “constant source of comfort”.

He also spoke of the universality of organ donation and said this was why representational stones from the five continents are being included in the commemorative garden.

“We are honoured,” he said, “to have the inspirational life of Jim Stynes, such a wonderful athlete and humanitarian, associated with the planned garden. It is very special to have these souvenir bricks from the recently demolished old stand of one of the oldest stadiums in the world incorporated into the garden’s design, representing Australia.

“Coincidently this is the same arena in which another Irish sporting legend, Ronnie Delaney, made history when winning gold in the 1,500 metre event at the 1956 Olympics.”

After meeting the Stynes family in Melbourne, Mark O’Toole, also from Spiddal, said living in Australia means Eamonn’s friends cannot have as much of a hands on involvement in the commemorative garden as they would like.

“So we were all thrilled at the opportunity to be able to play a small role in such a fantastic and worthwhile project. And of course the Stynes were wonderful in hosting us and making their very gracious donation.”

Denis and Martina Goggin say stones from the other continents to be incorporated into the commemorative garden include one from the historic Ellis Island, representing the United States, which “provided hope and a new beginning for many millions of people, and is particularly apt to the cause of organ donation”.

The African stone is from the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, where the world’s first heart transplant took place in 1967, and a stone from a courtyard of the 600-year-old Irish University in Leuven, Belgium will represent Europe. The source of the Asian stone will be India and will in some way be associated with the life of Gandhi.

Called Circle of Life, the planned national commemorative garden to organ donors is being developed by Strange Boat Donor Foundation in partnership with Galway City Council and will be located at the Quincentennial Park in Salthill. The garden is expected to open in the latter part of this year.

Strange Boat Donor Foundation is an Irish registered charity whose aim is to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and to give comfort, consolation and support to people affected by organ donation and transplantation.

Since its inception the foundation is involved in promoting and supporting this life giving cause, and is engaged in various related activities, the foremost of which has been the setting up of a dedicated website which has become a source of support and reference for a wide constituency of interests.

The foundation is currently involved in its most ambitious project to date - the creation of a national public garden which will commemorate and give thanks for the generosity of spirit of the many people who give the gift of life to others through organ donation.

The project is being funded almost entirely through voluntary donations, a proportion of which will be procured through corporate / organisational sponsorship, philanthropic donations and local, national and international fundraising events. The estimated total cost of the project is €150,000.


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