Date Published: 11-Jan-2012
Rural schools across County Galway are mobilising themselves for one of the biggest ever affronts to proposed cuts that would leave dozens of teachers on the dole.
The attack on the two, three and four teacher schools is being strongly resisted in both east and west Galway and last night more than 50 parents and teachers from Connemara voiced their anger to TDs in the Dail.
It has been described by many prominent teachers and local politicians as another assault on rural Ireland as a huge protest meeting is being organised for Ballinasloe on Friday week – it follows the well attended meeting in Oughterard earlier this week.
Figures reveal that 26 of the 41 primary schools located in the Galway Gaeltacht would lose teachers if the new pupil teacher ratios were implemented.
The principals of every primary school in County Galway along with every politician have been invited to a meeting in Ballinasloe being organised by Liz Mulry, who is the principal of Eglish National School in Ahascragh which hit the headlines in recent years because of its rat infested state.
In order to retain a teacher in a two teacher school, there must have been 14 pupils enrolled by last September – this number will increase to 20 by 2013, according to the new measures.
A three teacher school must have 51 pupils enrolled in order to retain their current staffing levels and this figure will increase to 56 by 2013 while a four teacher school must have 81 pupils enrolled to keep their allocation of teachers with this number increasing to 86 next year.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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
Sarah helps students at GMIT reach for the stars
Date Published: 28-Feb-2013
For someone who has spent most of her career in arts administration, returning to work with students is a breath of fresh air for Sarah Searson.
The recently appointed head of the new Centre for Creative Arts and Media at the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) is buzzing. At a time of great flux, she is thrilled to be at the helm in a very hands-on way.
“I have been writing a lot of policy documents, doing curatorial work in writing, supporting museums and galleries to develop programmes, advising organisations on shows,” she explains.
“I’ve also done quite a lot of mentoring with artists. I’m really interested in the development of arts in Ireland in the development of artists. So the opportunity to come to Galway represented a great challenge for me.”
She had regularly travelled to Galway when writing the last Galway City Council Arts Plan, which spoke about what investment in the arts can give back to the city.
It was some artist friends who let her know that the GMIT was advertising for the current position and urged her to apply.
“I had such a great art college experience myself so the opportunity to come here and develop it and bring it into the future was really exciting,” she reflects.
“It’s very exciting to work with students – the energy when you first come to college. I absolutely loved lecturing. There’s nothing more exciting than working with potential. I’ll be delivering workshops with them. For the first two or three years there’s a lot of management work but I hope to return to some lecturing.
“We’re at a very interesting time in education and it puts us in a great position to look at what we’re doing and it’s probably what creative people do very well.”
September was the first year that the film and documentary course at the Cluain Mhuire camps was elevated to an honours degree.
The course covers all aspects of the industry, including editing, sound, production design, cinematography, 4D design and knowledge of the planning, budgeting and management requirements involved in shooting and delivering film and documentary projects.
“We are looking to graduate students with a wide range of skill sets – everything from a data wrangler to a screen writer. There’s a big emphasis on collaboration. You learn a whole host of different skills because not everybody is necessarily going to be a director.”
The faculty also offers a well-regarded degree in art and design with an optional year-long specialisation in fine art or textiles.
Students study art history, critical theory, and they learn interviewing skills, how to draw, print making, ceramics and sculpture.
“They work in groups to produce exhibitions and events. There’s a real rigour to the course as a lot of that takes time to achieve. It’s total immersion.”
A third year print student is currently preparing for a two-week exhibition in London, while the student body and staff are busily readying their work for the high-profile end-of-year art show.
This month GMIT students out filming in all nooks and crannies of the city can be spotted night and day as they prepare their end of year project, which will feature in a college screening.
Many students will go on to set up their own company, working on a range of projects on a contract basis. They will work with a production company or go into a media organisation such as RTÉ or TG4.
“Visual education is so valuable. You work on a project basis, you have to conceive something and see it to delivery. It has to be professionally resolved at the end. You’ll be a self-starter, entrepreneurial, capable of critical thinking, you’ll have vision and imagination – really they are transferable skills.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Why is middle class a term of derision rather than endearment?
Date Published: 06-Mar-2013
GALWAY MAN TO BE EXTRADITED IN CONNECTION WITH MANCHESTER CRASH