WHEN the Glasson/Tubberclair Defibrillator group was set up a few years ago, a committee chairman was sought.
The group – which spearheads defibrillator training and ensures the defibrillators located locally are well maintained – wanted a willing participant to steer them.
A local man, Niall Coghill, stood up to the plate.
The 48-year-old, who is well known in the Glasson and Tubberclair areas, agreed to be the chairman. And now, more than two years on, he remains in the post.
He's also the chairman of a group set up earlier this year amid concerns about the N55 realignment through Glasson where he lives with his partner Sarah, daughter Eleanor (5) and son Ethan (2).
Niall likes getting involved in community initiatives. He was born and reared in Glasson and now resides close to his parents PJ and Helen.
He looks after his two children on a daily basis and in his spare time there is no shortage of activities including fitness, rowing and hunting. He is a keen fitness enthusiast and has ran marathons and triathlons over the years.
He was heavily involved in Athlone Boat Club when he was attending third level and was president and captain at various stages. He is keen to keep his interest in and passion for rowing alive and currently rows with the Masters crew.
He was a member of Glasson Farmers Hunt for several years and currently is a member of South Westmeath Hunt.
It's clear that his chairmanship of the defibrillator group is among his key priorities. There are eleven defibrillators in the Tubberclair and Glasson areas and the committee is keen that there is an awareness of their existence, along with an ability to use and service them.
He looks back to that first meeting when the committee was being established. “We had to get a few aims and targets of what we wanted to do. The first was to get defibrillators into the public domain.
“There were some in the parish but people didn't know where they were,” says Niall.
The 11 defibrillators are located at Tubberclair National School, Spollens shop, the GAA Club, the Wineport, Tubberclair Church, Kilkenny West, Glasson Golf Club, Killinure Point at Quigley's Marina, Liss Crossroads, Creggan and at Eddie Igoe's house.
“We are well kitted out! We got all of those into an umbrella group of our committee. They are all checked on a monthly basis to make sure they are in proper working order,” says Niall.
Around 50 people locally are trained in how to use the defibrillators, but, Niall says: “There is a lot more to be done. We are open to people who want training. It is vital to have the course done.”
So why did Niall opt to take the helm?
“I always like to get my hand into something. I have two elderly parents, it is more likely to be an elderly person who will need it (a defibrillator). I always did CPR training,” he says.
Central to the defibrillator project, he says, is community support.
“There is good support locally,” he says. One local fundraiser every year, prior to Christmas, pays the costs required and there is immense support for this.
“We have a good core group. The help from the golf club, Spollens shop and the GAA club has been excellent. You couldn't ask for more of them,” he says.
A strong sense of community was something that Niall grew up with. His father PJ was a member of Westmeath County Council for more than 30 years.
“There was never a dull moment in the family home,” something he looks back on with great pride.
“It was always a busy house, open 24/7,” he reflects. “Dad would be on every committee!”
Niall, who has four sisters, attended primary school in Tubberclair, before going to St Anthony's in Clara, as a boarder, for his secondary education.
He did Business and Marketing at AIT and then went to Philadelphia in the US for two years where he worked on “everything to anything”.
When he returned home he worked with his father PJ in his metal work business.
He met his partner Sarah Gaffey – who is from Manchester and who has family roots in Moydrum – 10 years ago at the Listowel Races.
When they had two children, Eleanor and Ethan, he took the decision to stay at home with them, with Sarah continuing to pursue her career as a nurse.
“It didn't make sense for me to be working. We decided I'd take the plunge and stay at home,” he says.
He combines his work in the home with his community engagements and his hobbies.
It all makes for a hectic schedule and he's delighted to be able to do it in an area he has strong roots and great family connections.
“This is where I'm from. We are very much rooted here. Dad was born and raised here. His father John came here in 1935 from Castlebar,” he says.