My first encountered with AJ was a few years prior at a Madra Mania event. AJ and his friend Emer Murphy came to admire my standard poodle Reeva. I believe both were familiar with Christina O' Brien, my poodles breeder. AJs quick smile and chatty personality made him instantly easy company. He was also an immediate hit with my 2 poodles.
Following this introduction I would later meet Aj at other canine events such as shows and grooming seminars. He would always have words of encouragement or offers of help and quite often he would left holding someone's dog whom he would talk to as if it were his own. I also believe Aj was one of the main instigators of acquiring our "Galway Groomers" what's app group. Somewhere Galway groomers can go ask for help or info on dogs or clients. I for one love the idea of groomers locally based helping and aiding each other in our ever changing profession.
It would be in late November this year where I believe AJ truly manifested the Spirt of Mary Toland. My dad had been unwell and had to spend some time in hospital where he would later under go a procedure for stents. My dad has never bn unwell and It was a worrying time for my sisters and I.
During a brief message to Aj regarding something else I would confide in him my dad's condition and how I was finding it extremely daunting and difficult to keep my grooming appointments. ( my sister and I were covering my father's driving job and I also work part time in a pharmacy) I believe it is routine of AJ to take the last week of November off work so he has adequate rest in the run up to the Christmas period. Upon hearing about my predicament AJ offered to come to my salon, which is over an hour from his home and groom my clients dogs to help me out. I was so touched at this gesture. Being self employed we are all way to familiar with how sacred our holidays are and here AJ was offering up his cherished time off to help me out.
Further to this offering I was later to hear of another kind gesture from AJ this time to one of his clients and a friend of mine. This lady owned a v charismatic boxer who was getting on a bit and to our heart break had a untreatable tumour of size growning in his heart. Although still hail and hearty he was able to attend AJ for his regular grooms. Prior to one of his grooms his owner Informed Aj that she may not be able to bring him and her Chinese crested for their up coming grooming appointments citing financial strain due to increased medical cost in treating her beloved boy. AJ told her not to worry about paying him in this instance and groomed her dogs free of charge, again this single gesture at a time of need touched deep and my friend was to remember such kindness with fondness
AJ is always v encouraging and active on social media when groomers have asked for advice or opinions. His true love of dog grooming and all things canine are plain to be seen in all that his does. I dont think any of us have ever experienced an awkward silence while in conversation with Aj or even just a silence 🤣 and he has an unique way of inspiring, encouraging and aiding fellow groomers. I believe he truly embodies the spirit of Mary Toland. ❤
Kate Mc Namara
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