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All change at the Abbey as parish ceases to exist

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The first Franciscan Parish in Ireland is to cease existence with the announcement that St Francis’ Parish in Galway City is to be subsumed into the Cathedral Parish.

A letter from the Bishop of Galway Brendan Kelly was read out at all masses on Sunday, informing Mass-goers of the decision, ahead of the parish’s official closure on March 1.

“The Franciscan Fathers have faithfully served their commitment to the Parish of St Francis over the past 38 years. Now, a time has come when – because of lack of personnel – they are unable to give this parish the attention it requires,” said Bishop Kelly.

“Consequently, their Provincial Fr Aidan McGrath OFM advised me that they can no longer continue to take responsibility for the administration for the parish.”

However, it was made clear that the Franciscan Fathers are not leaving Galway and will continue to provide Masses and devotions at the Abbey.

All parish administration will be transferred to the Cathedral meaning that baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals will take place there.

The Parish Registers of St Francis will also move across the Corrib, while all certificates normally issued by the St Francis’ will now be issued from the Cathedral.

Bishop Kelly explained how St Francis’ was established almost 40 years ago to serve the needs of a growing city – at a time when there were only four parishes in Galway City.

“A notable increase in the population of the city around that time prompted Bishop Michael Browne, with the agreement of the Parish Priests and religious superiors, to commit some of the parishes to the care of the Religious Orders and constitute those churches as parish churches.

“The Jesuit, Augustinian, Dominican and Franciscan Parishes were thereby formed on February 14, 1971, and the Abbey became the first Franciscan Parish in Ireland,” said Bishop Kelly.

An open meeting was held for St Francis’ parishioners on January 8 and it was the unanimous decision of those in attendance that this was the correct action to take.

Bishop Kelly asked for their understanding and co-operation as these changes took place.

“I want to thank the people of the Parish of St Francis for your loyalty and support, and to all who will be affected by the changes I ask for your understanding and co-operation.

“This is an opportunity to enrich the two parishes which will be affected by the union. May the new united parish be an added strength within the diocese and in our preparation for the future,” concluded Bishop Kelly’s letter.

St Francis’ Parish had taken in most of Woodquay and Eglinton Street, stretching down as far as the Salmon Weir Bridge – with a population of less than 500 parishioners.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Galway told the Galway City Tribune that the lack of residential housing in the area covered by the parish meant “it didn’t make sense” to have a separate parish.

“If you look at the Cathedral, it can seat 2,500 people. That means if you had four masses there on a Sunday, that would be 10,000 people,” he added.

The spokesperson said this particular closure was not an indication of the lack of vocations, but rather that there was a surplus of churches.

“There is definitely a decline in vocations. We don’t have enough priests to serve the number of churches but we probably have enough priests to serve the needs of people,” he said adding that there was a proliferation of “legacy” churches rather than a shortage of priests.

Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or  HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Workers leave hospitality sector to seek job security

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Pearse Doherty...morale has never been lower.

The severe restrictions for hospitality and entertainment are widely expected to be lifted next month – but already workers in the sector are reportedly leaving in their droves to source more stable employment.

And that could spell disaster for Galway’s vibrant arts industry which is a crucial cog in the wheel of local tourism.

When Covid regulations are eased for those staging events – thought to be announced this week – one of their biggest challenges is to secure staff for operations, according to prominent Galway event organiser Pearse Doherty.

Morale has never been lower in the industry, with even loyal customers getting fed up having to book and reschedule constantly when the goalposts shift so many times for shows.

“I really think it’s going to be very difficult for any venue going back or festival being staged. I don’t think things are ever going to go back to normal. Any event over 5,000 people will likely have to have fewer tents, a bigger space – all these things have to be taken into consideration for people who invest in the business,” he reflects.

“Having 50 per cent capacity and closing time at 8pm does nothing to make things financially viable. A lot of business models are built on having a bar and selling to 100 per cent capacity so I’m just not sure how many will survive the pandemic, even with all the very welcome Government supports for the industry.”

He knows of many in the industry who are changing careers or moving abroad in search of work in a location where restrictions nowhere as strict.

The head of production for the doomed Galway Capital of Culture 2020, head of production for Aiken Promotions which is behind the biggest gigs in the country and the site manager for the Electric Picnic, Pearse has himself pivoted in his career, taking up the role of producer with Fíbín Theatre at An Taibhdhearc.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway author dedicates children’s book to brave young nephew battling DMD

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Dedication....Fionn Brogan – new book aims to help in his fight.

A flying mouse with a skill for hurling is the subject of a book a Galway man has dedicated to his cousin’s son – six-year-old Fionn Brogan who, like Lumo the mouse, must overcome a myriad of challenges in his everyday life.

Ballinderreen man Tom Costelloe tells the Connacht Tribune he wrote the book to raise funds for his cousin Michael’s son, inspired by the strength and resilience Fionn has shown since his diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) when he was just three years old.  A disease which attacks the muscles, DMD will leave Fionn unable to play football or do many of the things he loves to do as time goes on.

As a result, his family wants to raise enough funds to make the next few years the best possible for Fionn – and aim to adapt their house so he can freely use a power wheelchair among other alterations that will be required.

For Tom, who works as a speech and language therapist, the Covid lockdowns presented an opportunity to put pen to paper and create this story of Lumo, a mouse with wings.

“With a positive message of self-acceptance, the story is brought to life with wonderful colourful illustrations by Thomas Quinn from Kinvara.

“Like Lumo the flying mouse, Fionn and his family have no shortage of strength, resilience and sprit – and thanks to our printing costs being generously sponsored, every euro raised from the sales goes directly to the Fionn Brogan trust,” he says.

Tom, who lives in Galway City, says the family had a series of fundraisers over the past year and he hopes this will add to the momentum of achieving what’s necessary to support Fionn as he continues to defy all odds.

And through his work, he’s had a good research group to test-run Lumo – getting very positive feedback.

“I work with kids so they became my research team, and they were very useful in making sure the book was of interest,” he laughs.

‘Could a Flying Mouse Play Hurling?’ is available in in Clarke’s Pharmacy Kilcolgan, Burke’s Eurospar Kinvara, Circle-K Kinvara, Poppyseed Café Clarinbridge and First Chapter in Gort.  For more information on the Fionn Brogan Trust, visit fionnbrogantrust.ie where donations can also be made.

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