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New Ballyglass school shows true community effort



Date Published: 14-Jan-2010

THE determination of the local community has delivered one of the most modern schools in the country for a small village in South Galway.

The redeveloped, reinvigorated Ballyglass National School is now among the most modern in the country, and it was officially opened by the current Minister for Social and family Affairs, the former Minister for Education Mary Hanafin during the Christmas school break.

The project cost in the region of €550,000, of which around €400,000 was received in grant funding. But what makes this special is the fact that a further €70,000 was raised through fundraising – and local people contributed €80,000 worth of voluntary labour.

“The parents have been brilliant in all their own different ways. They have given their skill completely free of charge. We had parents plastering, building, hauling topsoil and filler, seeding and draining the pitch, all for free,” said school principal Joe Corry.

“The school hosted open nights in advance of the build to invite parents who could help to come forward. The response was overwhelming. “It brings out the best in people, this kind of meitheal, or people working together…Everybody brought their own background and their own knowledge to the table to complete the school in the best possible way,” he added.

Featuring new classrooms, an office, resource and meeting rooms, the new development also boasts a basketball court and a full size juvenile pitch together with ample parking and drop off areas.

“Collectively, we’ve done amazing things. No one person could have done this, no one group of people could have done it. It’s been the culmination community, parents, teachers and indeed the department all coming together,” said Mr Corry.

Outmoded buildings, combined with increasing pressure for space spurred the board of management into action two years ago.

“Before the build we had just two proper classrooms built in 1991. One of the other classrooms was 110 years old. Children were going out to antiquated toilets that were made of asbestos. The road was unsafe and there were serious car-parking issues,” said the principal.

Single glazed windows and a lack of insulation meant that heating bills were spiralling upwards.

The redeveloped building gives the school modern resources to cater for both the new curriculum and the evergrowing number of children, with three new classrooms, a staff-room and office and wheelchair accessible toilets. One of the old classrooms has been converted into a resource room, while the other will provide a large space for activity and assembly. The existing Montessori which is attached to the school now has a dedicated space in which to operate.

When it came to funding the necessary redevelopment, public assistance fell far shy of delivering what was required. To make up the difference, the school relied heavily on the local community. Altogether, parents and locals rolling up their sleeves and pitching in saved the school an astonishing €80,000 in building expenses.

The past year also saw some heroic fundraising efforts, foremost among them the summer ‘plop drop’. Almost €30,000 worth of tickets were sold, each one corresponding to a square metre of Ardrahan GAA pitch.

For the full report see page 7 of this week’s Connacht Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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



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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