Reader’s fond memories of O’Malley
When Murt Hunt – now resident in Lecarrow, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo – heard about the unveiling of a statue in memory of the great Gerry O’Malley, it brought back fond memories of occasional meetings with his childhood hero…
I was so happy when Liam, a friend of mine, handed me a wonderful booklet of pictures and GAA sports memories concerning the unveiling of a statue of the late Gerry O’Malley in his native Brideswell earlier that day. I would have been delighted to have been there to honour the great man (but could not attend).
Gerry was my hero as a young lad and when I was attending Mary O’Flanagan’s Secondary School in Castlerea in the early 1960s, I regularly met him walking on the streets of Castlerea in his capacity as an Agricultural Instructor. I would be so delighted when he would give me a nod of his head every time we met! No ‘big head’ with Gerry, although he was one of the greatest footballers of all time and ranked with the best footballers of his day, the likes of Connacht team-mates Sean Purcell, Packy McGarty, Mickey Kearns and Joe Corcoran.
My friend Liam told me a fantastic day was had by all in Brideswell and that the event was so well organised by the committee. It was also so wonderful to hear that well-known GAA commentator Brian Carthy gave an impassioned speech about his old buddy Gerry – he would have been Brian’s hero as he was mine.
I did not see Gerry too many times after Castlerea, but life can be funny and I was privileged some years ago to be at the launch of the autobiography of Susan Carthy (mother of Brian) in Frank’s of Ballybeg near Strokestown, where Brian gave another great speech about his mother and the bringing up of her family in the hard times she lived through. To cap it off, who was the Guest of Honour on the night? Yes, you guessed it, it was the famous Gerry O’Malley. I excitedly shook his hand after all those years.
My mind wandered back to the 1960s and those meetings with the big tall figure of a man walking down the street in Castlerea and he nodding his head to me. He had aged gracefully and the back was not as straight as of old, but he still charmed one and all with his wit and good-humoured banter in Frank’s Lounge that night.
So it was so lovely that he was honoured by unveiling a statue in his memory in his native Brideswell, so that in years to come parents can point out the statue to their kids and say: “That was one of the finest footballers of all time.”
P.S.: Gerry lived to be a good age but it was also my privilege to have known and played underage football with another wonderful footballer and a man who also has a statue in his honour, the late Dermot Earley (RIP), who died at such a young age and whose statue is erected in Gortaganny. God grant them both the light of Heaven.
Why do we never hear about stroke services?
Martina Greene, Co-ordinator for the stroke support groups in Roscommon, Ballinasloe and Sligo, is concerned about what she sees as a lack of emphasis on the need for adequate services for stroke patients…
Nearly every day in the media there are stories of waiting lists, trolley crises, and overcrowding in hospitals, but never do I hear about stroke services.
I was struck by a recent report that said that in the next twenty-year period, we will witness a 59% increase in the incidence of stroke, a 41% increase in prevalence of stroke, and an 84% increase in stroke deaths. Clearly we are headed for a crisis -– nationally and locally – but what is being done? Our local stroke services cannot even deal with the numbers we have now, let alone the surge in cases going down the line.
We need to act now or the surging stroke rates will not just overwhelm hospital stroke units, there will also be a huge spillover into all acute services. Politicians are already highlighting huge numbers of people on trolleys in hospitals, so what will this look like if action isn’t taken on rolling out cost-effective stroke services?
The Irish Heart Foundation has developed a Stroke Manifesto which sets out a rationale for upfront investment in acute, rehabilitation and community services that have been proven to reduce death and disability rates among stroke patients, as well as cutting service costs.
As the Co-ordinator for the local stroke support groups in Roscommon, Ballinasloe and Sligo, I meet stroke patients and survivors every day and see that this issue needs to be prioritised. I hope our local politicians take heed of this.
Stroke Support Co-ordinator,
Irish Heart Foundation