You are currently viewing Circle of Life Organ Donor Garden in Galway Marks 10th Anniversary

Circle of Life Organ Donor Garden in Galway Marks 10th Anniversary

Circle of Life Organ Donor Garden in Galway marks its 10th anniversary as Organ Donor Awareness Week draws to a close.

As Organ Donor Awareness Week (20-27 April) reached its culmination, the campaign found its poignant finale for the 10th-anniversary ceremony at the Circle of Life National Organ Donor Commemorative Garden in Salthill, Galway on 27th April.

The event, attended by an estimated 500 people, was organised by organ donor parents Denis and Martina Goggin of the Strangeboat Donor Foundation who were the brainchild of the Garden located in Quincentennial Park, which overlooks Galway Bay. The Garden is now ten years old and today’s anniversary ceremony was an inspiring reminder that even in times of great pain and sorrow, people can still transform the lives of others.

Denis and Martina donated their only son Éamonn’s organs, who was just 26 years old when he passed away in 2006 five days after being involved in a fatal car accident following through with Eamonn’s wishes. Since then, they have been active leaders in organ donation setting up the Strangeboat Donor Foundation which supports other deceased organ donor families, and then spearheading the creation of the Circle of Life Garden. The Garden is a special place of thanksgiving and commemoration, where families of organ donors and grateful transplant recipients reflect on the spirit of giving and the enduring legacy of the ‘gift of life’.

As part of the anniversary ceremony, Deborah and Eddie Burns, parents of organ donor baby Harvey from Macroom, Co. Cork, planted a specially selected shrub, dedicated to organ donors and their families.  Also, a new, carved stone seat was unveiled by the Chairman of the Irish Kidney Association Eddie Flood, in memory of the late Angeline Cooke, a kidney recipient of 29 years from Galway, and a founder member of the Irish Kidney Association who worked tirelessly in the promotion of organ donation.

Martina Goggin has described her personal experience of her son’s organ donation, ”In the blackness, organ donation offered a scope of light. It became the only positive of Eamonn’s death and it gave me a comfort to know that his death was not in vain. He had donated his kidneys, his heart, and his liver, and after it was over there was a comfort in knowing he helped others continue with their lives.”

Carol Moore, CEO of the Irish Kidney Association who attended the Circle of Life Garden anniversary event, said: “What Denis and Martina Goggin and the Strangeboat Foundation have done is truly amazing. They show the true spirit of human kindness and are an inspiration to us and so many people, developing this wonderful garden on a volunteer basis, and raising funds to both build and maintain it.  We thank all the volunteers who maintain the garden on a year-round basis. We encourage people to visit the garden, as it is a wonderful place that will lift your spirit. The Garden is now a top tourist attraction for visitors to Galway.

“We would like to thank Denis and Martina for their inspirational generosity. They have demonstrated that organ donation is not only about healthcare. The act of organ donation is an act of kindness, civic responsibility, and community solidarity. As the Goggins have shown, this wonderful act has a ripple effect, inspiring others to think and act on behalf of their community. We see this in our passionate and committed volunteers and our healthcare professionals who respect and value others and give their time so selflessly and generously.”

During Organ Donor Awareness Week, people engaged with their local communities as well as local and national media to tell their stories of donation and receiving the gift of life. We would like to thank Local and National radio stations and newspapers. The power of your coverage was shown in one interview, where Prof. Chris Fitzpatrick described how he was inspired to travel to Belfast to donate a kidney altruistically after watching a TV interview with a medical colleague, Dominic Natin, who spoke about his living kidney donation. Without organ donors, lives would not be saved through transplantation. In these troubled times, the organ donation and transplant community together with their supporters are role models for a kinder, more inclusive society.”

Speaking at the event was Dr. Brian O’Brien a consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Cork University Hospital, and Director of Organ Donation Transplant Ireland (ODTI), who addressed the gathering about the wonderful gift that is organ donation, and gave details of the new ODT legislation soon to be implemented. He also acknowledged the family of the late Ted Tobin, who were present at the event. Ted was the first person in Ireland to undergo a transplant over sixty years ago, in December 1963.


Organ Donor Awareness Week (20-27 April) is organised by the Irish Kidney Association in association with Organ Donation Transplant Ireland. The key message for the campaign which continues to be important all year round is ‘DON’T LEAVE YOUR LOVED ONES IN DOUBT, Share Your Wishes About Organ Donation. For more information on the campaign and how to get an organ donor card or donor card app and opting to support organ donation on your driver’s licence which is represented by code 115 visit

As reported by the RSA Ireland, there are now 1.56 million drivers who have code 115 on their licence, which signals their agreement to donate their organs. That is nearly half of all licence holders and an increase of more than 100,000  on last year’s figure.

The Irish Kidney Association would also like to thank all of the wonderful volunteers, Health Care Professionals, the HSE, ODTI, the Department of Health, the National Office of Clinical Audit, Pharmacy chains and the Irish Pharmacy Union, An Post, Dunnes Stores, Libraries, the Road Safety Authority, and Clear Channel Advertising, patient advocacy charity partners, and any other individuals and organisations for their support for the Organ Donor Awareness Week campaign.