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Michael to engineer a bright future for GMIT

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

When Michael Carmody left his native Galway straight out of college to take up a job in Dublin little did he know that he would be back 33 years later as president of GMIT.

Michael, who was reared in Mervue and Dalysfort Road, Salthill, admits he had no life plan as such and was delighted when he got an opportunity to leave home to work as an engineer with the OPW (Office of Public Works). His work involved research into hydrology and was part of his Masters course under Professor Eamon Nash.

Two weeks ago he returned to Galway to take up the prestigious position of GMIT president. It’s not exactly a shock to his system as he had been president of Tralee’s Institute for the past decade, although granted it’s a much smaller campus.

But Michael comes across as a down-to-earth no nonsense type of man who is quite prepared to meet the challenges of running a much bigger campus in a city, and not just any city but his own home town!

He had just graduated from UCG (now NUIG) in 1978 when he headed to Dublin and within two years he had left the OPW to join the ESB. Still based in Dublin, he was involved in the design and managing of the Moneypoint power plant in Clare, one of the biggest projects in Ireland at that time, costing £164million.

He enjoyed every minute of his involvement with that project, one that gave him the chance to hone his engineering skills on a very real and worthwhile job. After years of theory in a lecture hall, this was a dream come true.

He had met his wife Anne in Dublin and they had started a family, which led them to thinking about moving out of the Big Smoke to the country. So in 1987, they packed up and moved to Tralee where Michael took up a lecturing post in the Institute of Technology. It was a change of scenery, both as regards location and job type, but again Michael adapted, as is his nature, and 23 years later he realised he had been there long enough.

“A decade is long enough for anyone in any position like that. I knew Marion Coy (former GMIT president) and she mentioned the job opportunity to me and I considered it. I believed it was the right move at the right time,” he says.

And his wife and three daughters, all in their early twenties, didn’t seem to mind the move to Galway. Caroline is currently in Australia, Aideen is a primary school teacher in Kerry and Niamh is a student in NUIG.

Technically, they haven’t made the final move yet, as Michael is renovating the family home in Dalysfort Road, so this really is coming full circle for him.

His dad, Michael, passed away in 1987 and his mum Anne was moved to a nursing home in Tralee three years ago, leaving the family home empty. His brother Paul runs his own business called PC Sports.

Just two weeks on the new job, Michael is still finding his way around the college campus, not to mention getting used to a new administration and staff, though he already knew some of the personnel from his Tralee position.

In 1990 he became Head of Department o

f Civil Engineering Construction in that institute, and three years later he was appointed Registrar, until he became President 10 years ago.

“I may have to get lessons to readjust my accent for here,” says Michael referring to his very slight Kerry accent. He hasn’t forgotten his Irish, something he puts down to him having gone to school in ‘the Jes,’ but admits he may have to brush up on his vocabulary.

With the increase in foreign students to GMIT through the Erasmus student exchange scheme, Michael may have to brush up on a few more languages, though in reality, he won’t have much to do with the micro-management of the college. His position has more to do with ensuring the Galway college is on the map so that it attracts not only students but investment as well.

The GMIT doesn’t have as much foreign investment funding courses as NUI Galway, but there is still a lot of promotional work to do to ensure that the links between the college and the city’s industrial and business community continue to strengthen. Already GMIT’s hotel management courses have gained a respectable international reputation involving exchanges of students from all over the world.

But Michael is still the ‘new kid on the block’ and at just two weeks into the new job hadn’t visited the GMIT’s other four campuses – nearby Cluain Mhuire where the TV and film courses are held, the furniture college in Letterfrack, the Teagasc college in Mountbellew, and Castlebar.

“I am certainly looking forward and am excited about getting to know the nuts and bolts of the campus over the course of the summer. But these first few weeks have already been busy, not only from an administrative point of view, but with business functions in the city.

 

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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