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Bringing together women from all walks of life in the community



For four years now, the ARD Women’s Circle (Ardaun-Roscam-Doughiska) has been bringing together women from the locality to develop networks in the community, learn new skills and at its very essence provide an opportunity to meet neighbours and friends in an area that is just finding its feet.

Coordinator and facilitator of the group, Grace Jennane, says that it all started with a realisation that countless women were dropping into the ARD Family Resource Centre but never actually interacting with each other.

Grace, who was doing a Tús Scheme –  at the centre, saw an opportunity for a group that would bring women of all cultures, nationalities and religions together – and so the ARD Women’s Circle was founded.

“They weren’t talking to each other, because they were all from different cultures,” says Grace.

“There was a lot of women that didn’t even want to come in because they were feeling socially excluded for one reason or another.”

Originally, the group was set up to do art and painting, but such was the demand for joining the group that it became apparent there would be scope to do more.

“I couldn’t believe that in the first few weeks, we had over 30 people who wanted to join.

“They all realised that that even though they might be from a different belief, religion, culture, country or whatever – they all had similar experiences and similar problems in their lives,” explains Grace.

It is for that reason that Grace believes the group’s primary role, ahead of all the skill workshops and classes they hold, is that of a social outlet where local women from the area can communicate with each other for two hours every week.

“I didn’t think it would be so fluid,” concedes Grace. “But it’s amazing that there is nobody sitting there on their own – straight away, if a new person comes in, they’re actually all sitting around her and it’s really good to see that.”

In everything that the group does, each person is learning something about someone else’s culture – be that food, dress, religion or anything else. Just by talking to each other, they are educating each other.

This, according to Grace, opens people’s minds and gives them an opportunity to ignore prejudice and make their own decisions based on the people around them.

“We brought the ladies to the mosque and they went around to the Imam who talked to them and they asked questions like, ‘why do women have to wear the hijab’, so he explained that it is not necessary. While some people might think it is obligatory, it is a choice, some women wear it to feel closer to God.

“They realise that it is just a piece of material but she is the same as me,” says Grace.

Grace smiles as she talks about her pride in the group, and for the way they have worked together to create a positive impact for the women of Doughiska.

“It takes you out of that social exclusion box, which can be a very dark place,” she says.

For a group that started just to do art, its repertoire has expanded greatly over the years.

To date, the group has created mosaics, become au fait with the intricacies of decoupage, got involved in the community garden, sold Christmas gifts in a pop-up shop that they were part of setting up, not to mention the daytrips and outings they have had.

Already marked on the schedule for this year is wood coppicing, and this is something that Grace says all the members are waiting with great anticipation for.

“I think they are really looking forward to the coppicing and the wood burning because when the Galway 2020 were in the woods, Debbie, the lady who does it, they went down and they were looking at what she was doing and they were very impressed.

“We had a lady in before we started the mosaic and she did perfume making with us using flowers they found in the woods – we are also going to make jewellery with one of the women from the group,” outlines Grace as she reels off the extensive list of activities the group are involved with.

She reserved much praise for her fellow facilitator, Karen Roberts, whom she credits with organising the outings the group go on.

She explains that the process of choosing what the group will do is based on a vote by those involved – with meetings regularly attracting up to 20 attendees per week.

The group collaborates with the ARD Gardening Group, having worked on various projects with them in the past.

One of its biggest successes was the summer barbeque last year where the community had the opportunity to come together and view the work that goes on in the area.

“We had a picnic in the community garden last summer and that was with a social inclusion grant from the Council – it was amazing and the ladies from the mosque came and brought their Pakistani food and everyone absolutely loved it,” says Grace.

For all the work that the ARD Women’s Circle do, Grace believes none of it would be possible without the huge support that the ARD Family Resource Centre provides.

“We have to be grateful for a lot of people that live around us in this community for putting Doughiska first.

“There’s many different nationalities here – it’s like our own little globe and it’s working because people are working hard to make it work, and it wouldn’t if things were left.

“There’s still a lot to do, especially in the woods, where a few of the younger people are causing problems but hopefully, as they grow up, they’ll start to do things with the woods.

It will be nice to see Merlin Woods being used because it is very important for one’s mental health and wellbeing,” she says.

Grace believes that it is thanks to the dedication of those who work in the ARD Family Resource Centre that a community exists in the Doughiska-Roscam-Ardaun area – with that famous Galway friendliness extending out to the city’s newest suburb.

“Lidl is lethal now,” she laughs. “You go in and you can’t get out for two hours. It’s nice to have a smiling face when you leave your house – it makes your day a little bit less stressful and life is stressful enough.”

The ARD Women’s Circle meets every Wednesday morning from 10am in the ARD Family Resource Centre.

“We are always open and welcoming to new members. We are a non-judgemental group and we are open to all women of all cultures, races and backgrounds from all areas of Galway,” says Grace.


Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport



From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.

The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.

According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.

Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.

Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.

A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.

However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.

In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.

Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.

Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.

The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.

Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.

Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.

Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Pamela’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Racecourse Park and Ride a non-runner for Christmas in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The lack of a park and ride service this Christmas will drive shoppers out of town at a time when businesses are struggling to recover from months in lockdown, the Mayor has warned.

This is after it was revealed that the City Council has failed to secure an alternative location for the service – with its usual base at Galway Racecourse out of action due to the ongoing vaccination programme.

The service, which had previously operated for the three-week period in the run up to Christmas, enabled motorists to park their cars in Ballybrit and take a return trip by bus to town at a cost of just €2 – taking hundreds of cars out of the city centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Colette Connolly, said it was ‘completely ludicrous’ that it would not be in operation this year, in a city that was already gridlocked with car traffic.

“I think that it is a retrograde step not to proceed with the Christmas Park and Ride because we know what will happen – we’ve seen before what happens at the Corrib Centre around Christmas where traffic backs up and people get stuck in the car park,” said the Mayor.

This would result in shoppers from outside the city avoiding coming in, while others would go to other towns and cities to avoid traffic misery.

“They will go to Limerick or to Dublin, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. They will go to Athlone, because they may as well go there, rather than spend two hours sitting in traffic on Lough Atalia,” added the Independent councillor.

In Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath’s report to councillors, it is stated that “it is looking unlikely that Galway City Council will be able to run the Christmas Park and Ride in 2021”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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