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Parents’ shock as pupils miss out on new school



An estimated 20 children have been refused a place in the new secondary school in Claregalway with capacity full before it even opens its doors on a new permanent facility.

Coláiste Bhaile Chláir (CBC) opened in 2013 on a temporary site in the Claregalway Corporate Park with 174 first year pupils. That jumped to 200 in 2014, with almost the same number enrolled for last year.

However the figure has been capped at 180 first year students for this September, according to parents. That has left at least ten students in the catchment area and a further ten just outside it bitterly disappointed not to be accepted into the school which has won national plaudits for its use of technology.

A group of those parents are organising a campaign to increase the capacity of the school to ensure those in the vicinity can attend.

Wilma Penman, whose daughter is in the final year of Corrandulla National School, said she was among the many parents who attended meetings in support of a secondary school in Claregalway in recent years.

“My daughter was in senior infants and we were hearing horror stories about children right up to the day before they were to start secondary school having no idea where they were going to go. Are we back to square one again?” she asked.

“When we got the letter to say she was refused we were floored to be honest. They’ve been prepared with the expectation of going to Claregalway – they are getting so anxious about it, they had made plans to go with their friends.”

As they live in the catchment area of Claregalway, she believes her daughter would not be entitled avail of the school bus scheme to other schools.

“After being refused for Claregalway, we could find ourselves at the bottom of the pile for Headford and town as well as they would have to accommodate their official catchment areas. It’s so worrying.”

Some parents have appealed the decision to the board of management and the patron, the Galway Roscommon Training and Education Board (GRTEB). Those outside the catchment will have a more difficult case to argue

“We could fight the quick fight and hope they’ll allow our ten children but what’s going to happen next year? What about the other ten? It’s only going to get worse, the population is increasing. To know a new school is already not going to meet the needs of the community is terrible.

“This is creating ripples for all the children further down the line, not just ours. This has the potential to be an act of extreme folly which will blight the inauguration of a long awaited new school and disappoint so many families in the community for years to come.”

Coláiste Bhaile Chláir opened in a temporary building in Claregalway’s Corporate Park. The school is projected to have 1,000 pupils by the time the first cohort of students sit their leaving certificate exams.

Priority is given to students who have a sibling in the school and secondly to the children of staff members. After that places are given to students who live inside Bus Éireann’s “extreme bus transport points” and thereafter students who live outside those points but attend a primary school within those points.

A 23-classroom extension was approved to the temporary building, with the permanent one due to open this September on the same site after planning permission was granted for a two-storey building with 17 specialist classrooms, six general classrooms, a library/resource room, as well as 45 car parking spaces.

The school – which has replaced text books with tablets – was selected as a 2014-2015 Microsoft Showcase School for its excellence in using mobile and cloud technology to better prepare students for success in the workplace – one of 150 worldwide.

Teachers Lara Dabbagh and Gareth Callan have also been selected as expert educators under the innovative schools programme, joining a group of 800 teachers worldwide acknowledged for their skills in the classroom.

The Connacht Tribune was unable to reach principal Alan Mongey for comment.


Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service



The Blood Bike team and supporters with the charity’ s newest motorbike, Cara, during the fundraising day at the Galway Plaza. Pictured are (from left) John Moylan, Bridie Lyons (Fundraising Manager), Sean Griffin, Fergus Turner, James Treacy, Pat McDonagh, Dave O'Leary (Chairperson), Ronan Kane (Fleet Manager), and Sergio Massidda.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.

Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.

The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.

As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.

Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow:  collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.

In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.

As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.

Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.


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Park fun to mark Africa Day



Pam Mncube-Zoki of Africa United Galway, speaking at the National Integration Conference at NUI Galway last week. The group are co-organisers of Africa Day which takes place in Salthill Park on May 28. Photo:xposure

On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.

Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.

Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.

Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.

Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.

In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.

Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.

The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.

Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.

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Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’



At the launch of the Domestic Violence Response (DVR) Annual Report were Rachel Doyle and Elizabeth Power of DVR, Deputy Catherine Connolly and Anne Reynolds. Photos Sean Lydon


A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.

Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.

The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.

The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.

Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.

“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.

“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.

“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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