A 60-year-old Galway woman who left school at 14 – and always regretted not having an education – took her chance second time round. And now she is contemplating a life in college.
Rosaleen Rice from Kingshill in Upper Salthill decided to return to education after rearing her own family of five and retiring from work – starting off by doing one-to-one classes in Galway Adult Basic Education Service, then the Leaving Cert and more recently completing a course in NUI Galway – something she never dreamt that she could do.
BY CLARE McNALLY
“I am the person I am because of the road I have travelled,” says the woman who managed a hairdressing business before turning her hand to running a B&B.
Rosaleen has lived in Salthill all of her life. Seventh of eleven children, she grew up in a very busy household. Like many people of her generation, she was only 14 when she finished school, taking up the opportunity to train as an apprentice hairstylist.
She was a quick learner, acquiring new skills in styling, cutting and all aspects of hairdressing. At 19 she became manager.
“I always think my mother made a wise decision when she suggested I train as a hairdresser. I would have drowned in secondary school but when I started hairdressing, I came into my own. I became more confident and my self-esteem grew,” she says.
Rosaleen eventually came to own the business, helped in no small part by the fact that she married Michael Rice, the person who originally employed her to be manager!
Rosaleen and Michael went on to have five children together – three daughters and two sons. Although she’d left school with very little education and weak literacy, her own thirst for knowledge and her desire to support her children’s education motivated her to keep trying to improve her skills.
“I was self-taught and by working on my reading it improved. When my first child was born I introduced her to books at the age of six months. Through reading to her and to my other children, my own reading ability improved.”
Rosaleen decided to retire from hairdressing and closed her business after her fifth child was born. However she continued to work all her life, supporting her husband’s driving school business and then running her own B&B for 15 years. It was only when she retired that she decided to take her first step back to education.
“I lost my brother and sister in a short period of time and it made me reflect on my own life. I felt that if you have an issue in life you should really do something about it, rather than wait. I always wanted an education.
“My sister Anne Broderick was the driving force behind me returning to education after I shared my feelings about my lack of education with her. She had done the tutors’ course in Galway Adult Basic Education Service and suggested that I get in touch with them. She even made an appointment for me as I was quite nervous in taking that first step myself,” says Rosaleen.
And she knows she fell on her feet when she engaged with the Galway Adult Basic Education Service – people like Alison Jones, Carmel Glynn and Kieran Harrington, to name but a few.
“The first person I met was Alison Jones. I found her to be the most open and truly lovely lady. It was such a big step for me going back to education that I actually broke down and cried when I started talking to her. But she was so understanding and put me instantly at ease. She suggested that I start on one-to-one and that’s when I met Carmel Glynn,” says Rosaleen.
“Carmel is the most amazing person – we clicked from the moment we met. In fact we have become great friends. She gave me all the encouragement I needed. In the end, I started writing short stories and her reaction when I would read one of my stories was so moving and touching.
“She unlocked something and made me believe in myself. I was beginning to discover things about myself I hadn’t known I was capable of and I can’t thank her enough,” says Rosaleen.
It wasn’t long before Rosaleen was being encouraged to try some exams, sitting Junior Cert English and Maths in 2012 and the Leaving Cert in 2014. Naturally, one subject wasn’t enough!
“At the interview for the Leaving Cert course, it was suggested that I try all six subjects. So I did, I studied Irish, English, Business, Maths, History and Geography. It was a challenge and there were times I questioned myself as to whether I could do it.
“However, with the encouragement I received from my tutors, family and my husband Michael, who kept dropping me off and picking me up each day, it helped me to persevere with it.
“To have completed the course and receive my Leaving Cert results was far beyond anything I ever imagined. It’s the most amazing feeling,” says Rosaleen.
More recently, through more encouragement from her tutors, Rosaleen has completed an Access course in NUI Galway.
“For all the years of my life that I passed by NUI Galway, I never dreamt that, one day, I would be a student in the University, or that it would be possible for me to be like other students, using the library, handing in assignments, dealing with the pressure of deadlines. You feel such a huge sense of achievement,” she says.
She’s not entirely sure what’s next.
“I have applied through the CAO to do a degree. I’m toying with that at the moment. I’m not sure if it’s what I really want to do. But what I do know is that it’s a wonderful place to be, to have that option. If I ever in the past doubted myself, going back to education has made me realise that I have the ability,” says Rosaleen.
Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road
Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.
This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.
It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.
During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.
Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.
While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.
Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.
Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.
In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.
Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.
“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.
“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.
“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.
The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.
Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.
(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)
New fire station for Athenry gets stamp of approval
Councillors have given their stamp of approval to a new fire station for Athenry – voting unanimously to grant planning for the development at Ballygarraun South.
The site of just under two acres, located between the new Presentation College and the railway line, will house a station as well as a training tower and parking.
Chief Fire Officer Paul Duffy told a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week that they hoped to have a contractor appointed by the end of October, with works to get underway soon afterwards.
“We have worked very hard to get this project to a tangible position and it’s great that the ‘Part 8’ planning application [one which requires a vote by councillors] has been adopted today,” said Mr Duffy.
“This will hopefully get underway this year and we can move on to other stations [in the county], with another one planned for next year and another the year after,” he added.
The plans include the construction of a 361 square metre fire station with finishing materials common to the area which ‘will link the development on the site to the context overall’.
Permission has been granted from the IDA, which owns the site, for Galway County Council to proceed with the development on their lands.
The meeting heard that consideration had been given to the sightlines for exiting fire trucks and that amendments had been made to the original plans to ensure they were adequate.
Local area councillor Gabe Cronnelly (Ind) said the progression of a new fire station for the town was hugely welcome, adding that it had been years in the making.
“We have to give huge credit to Paul Duffy who pursued this. Athenry is one of the busiest stations in the county. We secured an extension for the existing station six years ago and when the Department was granting that, they could see that, from the amount of calls it was getting, that a new station was justified,” said Cllr Cronnelly.
Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) said she was ‘delighted’ that the area’s representatives had given the proposal their unanimous backing.
Teen arrested over €45,000 cocaine seizure
Gardaí have seized €45,000 of what they believe to be cocaine in Ballinasloe.
Gardaí attached to Ballinasloe Garda Station conducted an intelligence-led operation in the Dunlo Harbour area of the town yesterday.
During the course of this operation a quantity of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth €45,000, concealed on derelict grounds was seized.
A male in his mid-teens was arrested at the scene and detained at Ballinasloe Garda Station on Sunday.
He has since been released with a file being prepared for the Garda Youth Diversion Office.
The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels.