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Connacht Tribune

Kids join childcare list – before they’re even born

Denise McNamara



Mountbellew Community Childcare Centre has a waiting list for children not even born yet, with 30 pupils attending an afterschool run by their staff in the nearby national school gym.

Planning permission for a €180,000 extension was granted last year but their application for a Pobal grant to part-fund it was turned down last year. This year they have applied for funding of €70,000 to build the extension which can accommodate 118 babies and children in the crèche, playschool, breakfast club and afterschool.

The centre has 50 places available since it opened in 2008 and has almost always been full, according to manager Denise Flanagan.

But in the last three years demand from parents has sky-rocketed due to the convenience of the before and after school service as well as the free playschool scheme.

“I’ve had parents coming up to me and saying they are a few weeks pregnant and can I put their name down for a place,” Denise told the Connacht Tribune.

“There’s a staff member who couldn’t get their child in here and they have to leave to pick up their child from a different playschool and bring them to a babysitter. Another family moved across the road and they can’t get in. It puts so much pressure on families – I hate having to tell local people we can’t fit them in.

“We can take six babies from six months old and we’re booked until 2020 – these are babies that haven’t even been born yet.”

The centre which has 18 staff has children who travel from afar as Skehanna and Ballygar for childcare. Some parents have had to arrange multiple pick-ups and drop-offs as they could not secure a place in the community childcare facility.

For the last two years Mountbellew National School has agreed to rent the school gym to the centre to facilitate the afterschool but the arrangement is not ideal as it means pupils spend a long time on school grounds.

“When the Government set up the free playschool scheme they didn’t investigation whether there were enough places. Now parents are putting their children into playschool from age three so it’s putting pressure on childcare centres.”

The centre held a public meeting last month to discuss the situation and 70 parents turned up.

“They’re all desperate to get their children in. We’ve been fully compliant with our Tusla and Pobal inspections and most of the staff have been with me since we opened in 2008 which is pretty rare in childcare.

“We know our children very well, it’s a very family atmosphere and we’re proud we’re doing so well but it’s causing a huge amount of stress on parents to find a full-time childcare place,” explained Denise.

“We are ready to go with the extension. We have a bank loan approved on condition we get Pobal funding and the local priest has agreed to sell us the site beside us. We’ve put a huge amount of effort into making sure the application is right.”

Roscommon Galway TD Eugene Murphy urged Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone to review the case of Mountbellew Community Childcare Centre.

“I have been contacted by so many parents and members of the public from the Mountbellew area regarding this pressing matter. One concerned father told me in January of this year he and his wife queued outside Mountbellew community childcare centre from 5.30 am to try to get their daughter a place for September, only to be told there was no room at the inn,” the Fianna Fáil deputy told the Dáil.

“Mountbellew is fortunate to have a childcare centre of this calibre. All the emails to me from parents have noted the professional nature of staff and the loving, caring and nurturing environment. Investing in this centre makes economic sense. We must be able to facilitate parents to work and contribute while our children, the future generation, are nurtured in the best environment possible.”

Minister Zappone replied that over the past four budgets, investment in early learning and care and school age childcare has increased by 117%, rising from €260 million in 2015 to €575 million in 2019.

This year there was a capital budget of €9.6 million for the sector, with €6.1 million of this funding for the 2019 early learning and care and school age childcare capital programmes.

She was unable to comment on the application process but stated that the outcome of the appraisal would be communicated to applications this month.

Connacht Tribune

Public auction of Castlesampson farm with c.143 acres




Connaughton Auctioneers are handling the sale of a c.143.40 acre farm located at Corraree and Ballygatta, Castlesampson, just 9km from Athlone/ M6 Motorway and 15km from Ballinasloe Town.

Located in a renowned farming district, the property has an extensive range of modern farm buildings including five-bay single slatted with lay back, three bay double bay slatted, covered yard with crush, two-bay double slatted, three-bay double flat shed and three-bay single flat shed with an overall area of c.10,274 sq. ft.

The lands are being offered for sale in four lots, Lot 1: c.77.77 acres with the farm buildings mentioned above, Lot 2: c.52.43 acres, Lot 3: c.13.20 acres and Lot 4: The entire property c.143.30 Acres with farm buildings. With a public road passing through the farm, there is extensive road frontage to an area of c.2,500 metres thereby holding huge potential for building sites in the future.

The property comes with mains connections to electricity and water and includes overall c.55.07 entitlements included in the sale.

Auctioneer for the sale, Ivan Connaughton stated: “This is a fine farm to come on the open market. The large investment in the ultra-modern farm buildings by the current owners together with an extensive holding of top-quality agricultural lands has attracted interest from both near and far.

The potential for transformation into dairy or usage as a large feed lot has attracted additional interest. Its location in a renowned farming district and conveniently situated close to the Galway/ Dublin M6 Motorway is a major advantage. The farm entitlements that total c.€21,000 per annum are included in the sale and has received a positive response from interested parties to date. I encourage any interested party to contact our office on 090-6663700 for further information and viewing”

The Public Auction is being held in Gullane’s Hotel, Ballinasloe on Friday August 30th at 4.00pm. All are welcome to attend. All legal enquiries can be made to solicitor for the carriage of sale, Hayden & Co. Solicitors, Athlone Tel: 090-6470622

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Connacht Tribune

Offering a lifeline to people affected by cancer

Denise McNamara



Lifestyle – The Daffodil Centre at UHG which is celebrating its 10th anniversary has given practical and moral support to thousands of cancer patients and their family members since the Irish Cancer Society set it up as a pilot project. DENISE MCNAMARA hears one man’s story of its role in his recovery.

When Alan Rushe began to feel cramps in his stomach, he did not hesitate in attending his local doctor.

His GP asked if he had ever suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). As he had been diagnosed with the condition when he was younger, he was prescribed tablets for that and told to see how they worked.

Six days later, Alan’s condition hadn’t improved so his GP referred him for a colonoscopy. When the invasive test revealed he had colon cancer he was operated on within ten days. Two months later he was started on six months of chemotherapy, getting treatment once every fortnight.

When he was coming to the end of the treatment, Alan found himself in a bind.

He wanted reassurance about what to expect as the chemicals left his body but the doctors and nurses in the oncology ward were far too busy to give him the time he needed to sit and chat.

“One of the things about having cancer, your whole life becomes obsessed with your problem and how you’re dealing with it,” Alan reflects.

“Suddenly you’re coming to the end of chemo and you find yourself in a very strange place; you are in a vacuum. You might be told things by different doctors and nurses but you haven’t taken it in.

“You can’t just drop back into the ward, yet you want to talk to people who know all there is to know about your type of cancer.”

He was advised to go to the Daffodil Centre in University Hospital Galway (UHG), which is run by the Irish Cancer Society to seek further information.

There he found oncology nurse Fionnuala Creighton who manages the Galway Daffodil Centre. She sat down with Alan and gave him the time to answer the myriad of questions that were swirling around his mind.

“She gave me all this information about what to expect when chemo is leaving the body, how it would affect me. She gave me information leaflets and told me about services that are available, such as exercise classes in Cancer Care West,” he explains.

The Daffodil Centre at UHG began as a pilot project for the Irish Cancer Society a decade ago this month.

Aileen McHale, who is now Cancer Information Services Manager with the Irish Cancer Society, was the first nurse to work there.

“We wanted to set up a designated cancer centre in a hospital to provide information to the patient, relatives and general public at the point of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up,” she explains. “I was involved in the setting up and running it and, from the beginning one of my roles was recruiting and training a group of volunteers who would help me in the running of the centre.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Hanley’s high-quality minors break new ground in great style

John McIntyre



Galway 3-14

Kilkenny 0-12

HURLING history was made much easier than expected at Croke Park last Sunday when Galway claimed a third consecutive All-Ireland minor hurling title for the first time ever.

As it transpired, this repeat of last year’s championship decider was a no-contest. Galway were so superior it made a nonsense of the conventional theory that the more games a team plays, they better they should become.

This may have been Kilkenny’s eighth match of a protracted campaign, but it was undoubtedly their worst display in falling to a heavy 11-point defeat. The young Cats were almost too bad to be true and their tame challenge faded completely after the break.

Though Kilkenny’s poverty considerably eased the task of the defending champions, the manner in which Galway went about their business was still impressive. Their overall skills set was in a different league, while their big-match temperament also stood them in good stead.

Having to beat the same team twice in the same championship can be problematic and although only three points had separated Sunday’s protagonists in the quarter-final round-robin series a few weeks ago, there was little or no drama in the championship’s defining battle such was the gulf in standard.

Not alone were Galway completing a notable three-in-a-row, but this was also the fourth time in the last five years that the Irish Press Cup has returned west, while the county has now captured eight of the last 16 All-Ireland minor titles.

This is an exceptional feat by any standards and new Galway manager Brian Hanley has clearly followed in the footsteps of his successful predecessor, Jeffrey Lynskey, in recognising young talent and then shaping them into a formidable team.

Galway are now the undisputed brand leaders at minor level and while the failure to translate this dominance to greater success in senior ranks remains a deep source of frustration, this week in not the time to be looking at the wider picture.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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