The Galway couple behind the Circle of Life national commemorative garden which begins construction in Quincentennial Park, Salthill, next month, were given recognition in Chicago last week and presented with a cheque for $32,000.
Denis and Martina Goggin, founders of the Strange Boat Donor Foundation based in Spiddal, spoke about the commemorative garden, its concept and plans, at a gathering organised by the Galway Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International. At this event a cheque for $32,000 was presented to the foundation, $25,000 of which was donated by the CSCI and $7,500 a personal donation from Bill and Nancy Gilbane of Rhode Island. The donation from the CSCI makes it a major sponsor and will fund the garden’s main feature, a circle of tall sculpted stones, portraying the journey of life.
The Strange Boat Donor Foundation was established by the Goggins, the parents of Éamonn Goggin, a young County Galway man whose organs were donated following a road crash in 2006. The foundation is actively involved in promoting and supporting this life giving cause and it is the intention to develop the Circle of Life, the first national public garden of its kind, as a tribute for donors, recipients, and their families and loved ones.
Accepting the donation, Denis Goggin said the project was funded entirely through voluntary donations, and that “this support and endorsement from such an influential body as CSCI will further add to the stature and standing of this very deserving national garden which, when completed, will be a special place of comfort, inspiration, and healing for all, but of particular significance to those affected by organ donation and transplantation.”
Present in Chicago for the event was the Mayor of Galway city, Cllr Padraig Conneely who said Galway City Council and councillors “were delighted to support and be involved in such a worthwhile national project”. He praised the Goggins for their vision and courage in turning a very personal tragedy into something positive. Highlighting the importance of the project Cllr Conneely said: “This garden will be a landmark project for Galway which will impact at national level and beyond, and play a very important role in furthering the cause of organ donation in Ireland into the future.”
Organiser of the event was Galwayman and vice chairman of the Chicago/Galway Committee of CSCI, Billy Lawless, who said: “Our decision to support the commemorative garden project is indicative of our commitment to increasing community, cultural, artistic and philanthropic engagement with the city of Galway.” Mr Lawless who is now living in Chicago added: “The committee is very pleased to be associated with such a worthy project and its support is a reflection of the esteem in which the relationship with Galway city and its people is held here in Chicago.”