Date Published: 14-Mar-2012
More than 20 schools across Galway City and County are to benefit from the Government’s new €1.5 billion school building programme.
It’s expected that the projects – which range from extensions to entirely new buildings – will create hundreds of jobs for the crippled Galway construction sector.
Galway West Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh said the inclusion of a significant number of local projects in the Government’s five-year school building programme would help meet the anticipated increased demand for school places as the population increases.
But there is growing anger in Clifden where the long-overdue replacement for the old Community School didn’t make the list – despite Education Minister Ruairi Quinn’s self-publicised visit there on Leaving Cert results day last year to promise them he ‘would take a personal interest’ in the project.
The Minister also has a holiday home in the area and now pressure is likely to be ratcheted up on him, both locally and in the Dail.
Overall, more than €1.5 billion will be invested in new schools in the period to 2017 under the programme, and around 18,000 jobs are expected to be created in the process.
In Galway alone, at least 150 jobs are expected to be created by the building works.
It will see the move of Colaiste na Coiribe, which is “bursting at the seams” on the Tuam Road move to a new site in Knocknacarra.
On the eastern side of the city, a new primary school and a new post-primary school for Doughiska have been included in the plan.
Deputy Walsh said that the inclusion of around 25 Galway school-building projects in the Government’s plan would meet the anticipated increase in demand for school places based on population growth, as well as providing a major jobs boost for the area.
“It is expected that the school-going population will increase by up to 70,000 in the next five years, and this building programme will ensure that we are in a position to meet that demand,” he said.
In total, €1.5 billion will be invested in the building programme between now and 2017, while a further €500 million has been earmarked for the replacement of prefabs, the acquisition of sites and the provision of additional classrooms.
See this week’s Connacht Tribune for full story and list of Galway schools approved.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
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