Croí refurbishes family room at GUH

Article featured in Upstairs Downstairs magazine, August/September 2019 issue

Croí – Heart and Stroke Charity, is based in Galway and our goal is to lead the fight against heart disease and stroke in the West of Ireland. Since it was first established in 1985, Croí has played a significant role in establishing Galway University Hospital as the only referral centre for cardiac surgery in the West of Ireland. In addition, Croí Heart and Stroke Centre is the first of its kind in Ireland, dedicated to the prevention of, and recovery from, cardiovascular disease as well as the promotion of health and well-being. The charity is totally funded with the proceeds of fundraising events, voluntary contributions and philanthropy.

As part of Croí’s patient and family support services, we provide free accommodation in The Courtyard Apartments at Croí Centre whereby families can stay close to a loved one who is undergoing surgery or receiving stroke or cardiac care at Galway University Hospital. At a time of crisis and trauma, Croí helps families stay close to their loved ones.

As an extension of this support to families, we have recently refurbished “The Croí Family Room” to give families a relaxing and quiet place to go while their loved ones receive specialist care in the Coronary Care Unit in Galway University Hospital. With the help of Interior Designer, Rosie O’Connell, and with the funds raised through generous donors and supporters, Croí have transformed this room into a calm space for families to recharge during the most stressful time.

As an independent, non-for-profit organisation, all of Croí’s activities are funded from fundraising initiatives and revenue-generating activities. We are deeply grateful for the support and endorsement of our donors, supporters and volunteers who give so generously of their time and resources. We hope “The Croí Family Room” will be a calm oasis for families with loved ones receiving care.

Interior design by Rosie O’Connell interiors. 

You can follow Rosie’s work on Facebook or Instagram.

Plates, portions and weight control

We eat with our eyes and the size of our plate influences how hungry or satisfied we feel after eating a meal.  Over the past few decades portion sizes served in restaurants and cafes have increased. In the USA, the average restaurant meal today is over 4 times larger than in the 1950’s, with Ireland following a similar trend. This promotes over eating and can lead to weight gain and obesity. Studies show that people are generally eating an extra 200-300 calories per day more than they actually need, so it’s not surprising our waist lines are expanding!

While larger plates and bowls may look stylish, research consistently shows eating from them leads us to serve and eat bigger portions. Why? It all comes down to a sneaky optical illusion, the ‘Delboeuf illusion’.
This describes how larger plates can make a serving of food appear smaller, so we add more to the plate! The picture below demonstrates this theory, the same-sized central circle (the test circle in black) appears smaller when surrounded by a much larger concentric circle, than when surrounded by only a slightly larger concentric circle. This helps us to understand that our perception of food portion size is linked with the size of the plate it is served on. Switching to a smaller dinner plate puts you in greater control, and less likely to over-eat.

The Dietitians at Croí have redesigned the Croí Portion Plate. The plate is split to guide you to eat balanced meals and healthy portion sizes. A good rule of thumb is to aim for half a plate of vegetables/salad, ¼ plate of lean protein and  ¼ plate of wholegrain carbohydrates. Portion size guides are included on the back of the plate.

5 tips to perfect your portions

  1. Check the size of your dinner plates, a standard plate size should be no more than 9 ½ inches.
  2. Leave a cup measure in your cereal, rice, or pasta container so you have a clear idea of how much you’re scooping out each time.
  3. Focus on food quality, not quantity, and take the time to savour and enjoy the smell, taste and texture of every mouthful.
  4. Lean meat portions half the size of your palm are perfect. Cut yours down to size and save the leftovers for lunch the next day!
  5. Always include some vegetables or salad at every meal (aim for half your plate), these are low calorie nutrient rich foods that provide vitamins and minerals for good health.

Croí to benefit from fashion luncheon

A fashion show luncheon in partnership with charities Croí, National Breast Cancer Research Institute, and Rosabel’s Rooms, will take place on Sunday September 8th at the Glenlo Abbey Hotel.

Brown Thomas Galway will launch its new autumn winter 2019 collections with a special luncheon to raise vital funds for the three charities.

The afternoon will get underway with a champagne reception and music by Michelle Lally before the exclusive fashion show, which features this season’s key trends across sought after labels, including Ganni, RIXO, Victoria, Victoria Beckham, See by Chloé and MaxMara. Lunch in the Corrib Suite will be enjoyed ahead of a charity auction, and the event will finish with evening music by The Rascals in the Dangan Suite.

Brown Thomas Galway general manager Marilyn Gallagher says the charity fashion will benefit worthy charities such as Croi, National Breast Cancer Research Institute and Rosabel’s Rooms.

“Each charity is highly proactive in the west and throughout the country. They provide vital support to people at times in their lives when they are most needed.

“The Brown Thomas Galway charity fashion showcase will present the key trends from across the luxury store’s autumn winter 2019 collections. We greatly look forward to welcoming guests and helping to raise vital funds for these charities.”

The event commences at 2pm and tickets are available through each chosen charity’s EventBrite page at a cost of €90 each or €800 for a table of 10. Croí, National Breast Cancer Research Institute and Rosabel’s Rooms can also be contacted directly regarding ticket sales.

Croí’s mission is to prevent heart disease and stroke; the National Breast Cancer Research Institute funds a comprehensive research programme at the Lambe Institute, NUI Galway to improve the diagnosis, treatments, and outcomes for those who develop the disease; and Rosabel’s Rooms, in partnership with The Irish Hospice Foundation, is facilitating the development of family-friendly bereavement suites in hospital emergency departments around Ireland.

All proceeds donated to Croí will go towards our ‘Women at Heart’ campaign – an awareness campaign which targets women of all ages and highlights the fact that heart disease is not just a man’s disease. Women are six times more likely to die from heart disease and stroke than from breast cancer yet almost 90% of women are not aware of this fact. ‘Women at Heart’ aims to increase awareness of the risks, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease in women. 

Cairde Concert, in Memory of Seán Henry

The Big Gig, Cairde Seán Henry: A celebration of friendship and life

The inaugural Cairde concert, in memory of Portumna publican Seán Henry, will take place on Sunday, October 6th from 4pm in the Clayton Hotel, Galway. The fundraising concert is a celebration of friendship and life, with Ireland’s top traditional musicians and singers joining together in aid of Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, and Cancer Care West. Performers include Frankie Gavin, Joanie Madden and Cherish the Ladies, Seán Keane, Matt Keane, Mary Bergin, Jimmy Crowley, Eileen O’Brien, Anne Conroy, Seán Gavin, John Faulkner, and many more.

Traditional music was a huge part of Seán’s life and this concert is a continuation of Seán’s unrelenting support of the West. The special Cairde charity CD will be available for purchase on the night, originally released by Seán in 2002 with the support of Anne Conroy and Joe Burke. The Cairde CD features 22 tracks from some of Ireland’s finest, including Matt Malloy, Frankie Gavin, Mary Staunton, Tommy Peoples, Seán Maguire to name a few, and all friends of Seán.

“Seán loved life and music, and he wanted to reissue the CD to raise money for the West, but his health during the last few years of his life didn’t allow this. So I decided that I would do this for him, by organising a traditional concert in Galway and reissuing this great CD,” says Jody Henry.

Seán was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998. He survived the cancer and non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma during the following 18 years, but the treatment damaged his heart, leading to heart failure. Seán passed away five days after open heart surgery in Galway in November 2017. The concert and sales from the CD are in aid of Croí, the Heart and Stroke Charity, and Cancer Care West, raising much needed funds to lead the fight against heart disease and cancer in the West of Ireland.

Advances in treatment have led to improved survival of patients with cancer, but side effects from the treatment can have direct effects on heart function and structure. Heart disease and heart failure as a consequence of previous cancer treatment is a complex issue. Croí’s work in the community aims to raise awareness of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and screen for early detection. “We are so grateful and honoured to have been chosen as one of the charity partners for this event as it will allow us to raise awareness and continue lifesaving prevention work in the West,” says Christine Flanagan, Croí’s Fundraising Director.

Expressing her appreciation to everyone involved, Orla Cunniffe of Cancer Care West says, “This is a wonderful tribute to Seán and we would like to thank Seán’s wife Jody and the many musicians that will be performing on the night. Funds raised will go towards helping meet the costs of residential and cancer support services at Cancer Care West, which are provided free of charge to cancer patients and their families. People in our community are affected by cancer every day, directly or indirectly through a loved one. Our vision is that no-one should have to go through a cancer experience alone, and everything we do has this vision in mind.”

Event page: 

Find out more about the two charities by visiting their websites at and

Sean Henry - Portrait by Helene Cunniffe
The Big Gig Cairde Seán Henry

Croí Staff Profile: Jacqui Aupiais

Jacqui Aupiais, Executive Assistant and Jac(qui) of all trades, celebrates a huge milestone this summer – 10 years with Croí! We chatted with Jacqui to learn how her role with Croí has evolved over the years, and what she loves most about being part of Team Croí!

Name: Jacqui Aupiais, BA (Hons), MA (Hons)

Job title: Executive Assistant (aka Jac(qui) of all trades!)

Tell us about your role:

In some ways, it’s difficult to define my role as there are so many elements to the work that I do. First and foremost, I’m Executive Assistant to our CEO. This role allows me to be involved in a number of different projects. I also work closely with the Training & Education team, this includes the organising and logistics of a number of our educational conferences and short courses aimed at healthcare professionals.

My colleagues tell me that I am the go to person for all manner of things, from the frequent ‘my computer is dead’ to ‘where do you keep the thingamajig for the whatchamacallit’ (eloquently described by the lovely Annie). My Ikea toolbox comes in handy quite often…!

What’s the best thing about your job?

I love the variety of my role – no two days are the same and the fact that I am involved in so many different areas, things never get boring.

How has your role evolved over your 10 years with Croí:

I was between jobs and had just finished my Masters in 2009 when I joined Croí on a 3-month maternity cover contract coordinating the CPR/AED training. The contract was extended to 6 months, a year… and then before I knew it, here I am 10 years later.

The one constant throughout this time has been the Executive Assistant role, but in the early days I also worked closely with the fundraising team and covered admin for the health team when needed. Once we moved into Croí House, my role grew and I managed meeting and events and the building operations which included the lovely three apartments we have for families of patients in cardiac or stroke care. I am still involved but to a lesser degree, now we have Richie Hynes looking after our meeting and events and building management, and Christine Flanagan (Director of Fundraising) and the fundraising team take care of the management of the Courtyard Apartments.

 Favourite, stand-out moment of your career with Croí so far:

There have been a few stand-out moments, but I think for me, it was the transition from the small pokey offices we had at the back of the hospital to the move into the new Croí Heart & Stroke Centre. To be a part of this move and see all the progress and development that has happened under this roof in the past 7 years has been phenomenal.

 What excites you about the future at Croí?

The constant growth and the willingness of all our staff who always push the boundaries in their areas to make a difference in cardiovascular health through prevention, rehabilitation, education, fundraising and awareness.

 What do you like to do when you’re not at the office?

I enjoy going out with my DLSR camera and playing photographer.

Random fun facts:

Pet: Archie, my gorgeous ginger kitty

Any favourite line from a movie? Actually, it’s a line from my favourite advert for Malibu set in the Caribbean – said in a Jamaican accent… aah…you give me road rage – of course what makes the advert funny is that it’s in the laid back Caribbean and there’s no traffic – although I do it say it lot myself when driving in Galway traffic – with the accent of course!

Favourite superhero? My guilty pleasure is watching any superhero from the Marvel Universe

Favourite colour: Orange

Favourite City: Barcelona & Edinburgh


Supporting Families at Croí – Testimonial

Earlier this year, we welcomed Bernadette White to stay in our Courtyard Apartments at Croí House as her husband John received care in Galway University Hospital. Following her stay, we were very grateful to receive this lovely testimonial from Bernadette, who spoke very kindly about the staff at Croí and the Courtyard Apartments.

“My husband, John, had to undergo Triple Bypass Surgery. We live in Donegal which is 4 hours from Galway Hospital. The Cardiac Nurse in Letterkenny Hospital informed us of The Courtyard Apartments at Croí House. What a facility, brilliant! It takes away the stress of trying to find accommodation in Galway. The staff were brilliant, especially Christine (Head of Fundraising at Croí). She made us feel so welcome and was so helpful. It’s brilliant that family members can come and stay, it’s within walking distance of the hospital and has a direct phone line. The apartment was beautiful – a home away from home! It was so nice to be able to relax after a stressful time. We will never forget their kindness” 

– Bernadette White

The Courtyard Apartments are a much-needed facility which allow family members to be as close as possible to patients who are in hospital for cardiac or stroke care in Galway University Hospitals. The apartments are open 365 days a year and have a 98% occupancy rate, with many families coming from the Mid/North West, like the White family.

The apartments consist of three self-contained ground floor accommodation units, located just a ten-minute walk from University Hospital Galway. They are funded entirely by donations and events organised by Croí and have supported families from all over Ireland and even internationally.


TEL: +353 91 544310

Galway Night Run: Race the Prom, in aid of Croí

The 5th Annual Galway Night Run in aid of Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, will take place on Friday, October 11 at 8pm on the Salthill Prom. This year promises to be even bigger and better to celebrate the 5th anniversary, with music and entertainment at the start and finish line.

This is one of Croí’s biggest annual fundraising events, and thanks to the support of sponsor Evergreen Healthfoods and media partner iRadio, 100% of the proceeds go directly to supporting Croí services and supports in the community. This includes heart and stroke prevention and recovery programmes, education and training programmes, and supporting the Courtyard Apartments at Croí House which offer free accommodation and support for the relatives of those receiving heart or stroke care at Galway University Hospitals.

All abilities (competitive runners, family walkers, beginner joggers, etc.) and ages are welcome, and this year participants will be corralled at the start line based on predicted finish times to allow for a smoother flow. Bring the family and run, walk or jog the 5km in support of Croí. The run will be chipped timed and everyone will receive a medal!

“This is our 5th year on the Prom and we want to make it even more special for our participants. Expect a lively and music-filled start line this year, and we’ve designed a special 5th anniversary sleeved running top for registrations. Each entry makes a huge impact to the work here at Croí, and the run allows us to continue our community work in heart and stroke prevention,” says Christine Flanagan, Director of Fundraising at Croí.

Regular entry is €35, with discounted entry for students, youth and over 65s. Under 12s are welcome for free, but strictly must be under the supervision of an adult. Registration is open at Join us and help Croí continue to lead the fight against heart disease and stroke in the West of Ireland.

Galway Night Run

Proudly supported by Evergreen Healthfoods.