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Planners query scale of school extension

Denise McNamara



Planners have asked Our Lady’s College on the Presentation Road to justify why it needs such a big extension and to outline how it intends to reduce car usage among parents and staff given the large increase in traffic it would generate on an already constrained site.

The project, which the school claims will accommodate 420 students in the future with over 50 staff, will allow the relocation of the remaining students and staff currently located at the former Mercy secondary school site at Newtownsmyth.

Our Lady’s College is a merger of the Mercy and Presentation secondary schools.

In a letter to the Galway City Tribune, local resident Paul Flynn said 70 families on the Presentation Road, Mill Street and Canal Road objected to the extension, claiming it is a waste of public money as just 275 students are likely to be enrolled.

“Student numbers are now at 324. Only 31 students did the entrance exam in February and about 80 students are leaving. There is no student attending Our Lady’s College that lives within 1km, maybe even 2km radius of the school . . . Galway City has enough voluntary Catholic schools and, as a city, we need an Educate Together Secondary School. Why waste more public money on something that is not needed?”

Residents, whose objection was lodged out of time and not accepted by the planners, argue it will increase traffic and pollution and that the size and height of the building is excessive.

In its request for further information, the school has been asked to provide an overview of the operation of the existing school buildings on site, outlining student numbers, staffing and vehicle access. They have also been asked to provide an in-depth road safety audit given that “the proposed development gives rise to significant traffic and pedestrian safety concerns on a site that is already constrained”.

“Particularly, the proposal to increase private car movements on site, by virtue of the proposed vehicle access arrangements, which includes a one way traffic system, including drop off.”

The planners have criticised the lack of measures to encourage sustainable transport measures and use of public transport.

They said that the school’s mobility management plan had “a target of only 11%” reduction in private car use by parents”, which it said was unsustainable. The target increase of 4% in bicycle use was not sufficient and pointed out no cycle parking was proposed.

“It is noted that no targets are set for staff members, which is considered to be unacceptable/inappropriate. With a staff compliment of approximately 60, the figure provided of 72% of staff using private cars has the potential to result in at least 43 cars on site.”

The school predicted it would have 420 students in the future with over 50 staff. The planners point out that the existing site has little or no PE space and the extension does not propose any.

“The lack of any internal or external physical education spaces does not accord with national post-primary school design guidelines.”

The application had no assessment of its impact on the Corrib or the canal and had not submitted a flood risk assessment.

They have been asked now to provide expert reports on these as well as a heritage impact assessment of the protected building.

Ceist (the Catholic Education and Irish Schools Trust), the operators of the school, has sought permission for a three-storey extension to accommodate three classrooms, a new science lab, business studies room, technology rooms, preparation rooms and toilets.

The new building is proposed for the northern end of the 1960s structure on the school grounds, and will involve the removal of a pre-fab classroom to adjacent to the canal; removal of a storage and toilet enclosure under the 1960s building and removal of a pre-fab classroom adjacent to the primary school building.

The 20th century railings on the boundary wall south of the primary school will also be removed.

According to an architectural impact statement included with the application, while the development will be in close proximity to four protected structures [at the Presentation Convent and St Joseph’s Church], no historic fabric will be lost, with the sole exception of a limited area of limestone wall, which will be of limited significance.

“This overall school site has evolved significantly, particularly from the mid-20th century onwards. The proposed extension is considered to be in scale with the existing 1960s structure, and will facilitate the sensible natural evolution of a secondary campus with no detrimental effect on the four protected structures within its immediate vicinity,” the report reads.

A new site entrance has been developed adjacent to St Joseph’s Church on Presentation Road.


Brave Holly’s battle against leukaemia

Denise McNamara



A keen young camogie player from Knocknacarra diagnosed with leukaemia at the start of the first lockdown has now learned that she has lost her sight in one eye due to a rare complication.

Holly McAlinney was the picture of health at age seven. Her mother Sharon remembers the day schools were closed last March that her teacher had remarked that Holly had difficulty hearing in class.

She took her to the GP, thinking it was an ear infection and then her jaw swelled up so she thought it may have been her adenoids acting up. When medication did nothing to relieve the symptoms, they sent off a blood test.

“I went to the doctor with her on my own, you were only allowed one parent in at a time. They asked if I could call my husband so I knew things were bad. They confirmed it was leukaemia on a Wednesday and on the Monday we were in Crumlin Children’s Hospital getting chemotherapy – that’s how quickly it’s all been.”

Holly is now in the middle of her fourth round of chemo, which she undergoes weekly one day a week in the Dublin hospital. When she finishes this, she will have a fifth round given over two years to ensure the cancer doesn’t return.

Her medical team are extremely positive about her prospects. There is currently a 98 per cent survival rate with leukaemia, which is of course a huge relief to family and friends.

But things haven’t gone plain sailing throughout the treatment. Holly developed ulcers on her duodenum which left her in intensive care for a spell. And then last week, the family learned that the leukaemia had infiltrated her left eye, leaving a gap which could result in permanent blindness.

“We’re seeing a specialist in University Hospital Galway (UHG) next week but we don’t hold out much hope the sight will come back. Holly’s the most upbeat of all of us because she’s so young – she can’t see the repercussions into the future.

“That’s the way she’s been throughout the treatment. The first two rounds were heavy and the third quite light so she bounced right back. She was in school September and October, you wouldn’t know she was sick, and we felt she was safe because everything was so clean and with all the bubbles.

“It was right back down with the fourth round which was the heaviest so she can’t go see anyone just her brother – it’s heart-breaking.”

Her school friends have been keeping in touch by sending videos and cards to Holly to cheer her up.

While camogie and swimming will be out of the occasion for the foreseeable future, Sharon is confident they can find other hobbies that will enthral Holly, who is a very sociable and sporty girl. Sharon trains Holly with the U-8 camogie team with Salthill-Knocknacarra GAA.

The frequent trips to Dublin and hospital appointments has meant that Sharon has had to give up her job working in the Little Stars Montessori on the Cappagh Road, where son Alex still attends afterschool. Dad Rob works as an alarm engineer.

New mothers that Sharon met in Holly’s parent and baby group in Knocknacarra have organised a fundraiser to help the family get through the financial stress of coping with cancer.

They are planning a hike on December 6 at Diamond Hill, Connemara and have already raised €16,000 in donations.

“Rob and I are both from Salthill, but it’s been amazing the amount of people we wouldn’t have heard or seen in years who have contacted us to offer support. It’s only when you’re in trouble that you realise how good people can be.”

■ To make a donation, log on to GoFundMe

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Proposals to change speed limits in Galway City are voted down

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Planned speed limit changes for Galway City are stuck in the slow lane after councillors rejected a proposal for new bylaws.

The bylaws would have introduced a 30km/h zone in the city centre and 19 other changes, including increased speed limits in areas such as Bóthar na dTreabh to 80km/h.

Management at City Hall have now been sent back to the drawing board to draft new speed limit bylaws after a majority of elected members voted against them – it could at least two years before new proposals are ready.

At a meeting this week, several councillors spoke out against plans to increase speed limits to 80km/h on approach roads into the city.

Many of them criticised the system of selecting roads for speed limit changes, lashed the public consultation process and decried the lack of input from councillors, despite speed limits being a reserved function of elected members.

Councillors were particularly peeved that the proposal had to be accepted in its entirety, without amendments, or rejected outright – they could not pick and choose individual changes.

Deputy Mayor Collette Connolly (Ind) led the charge against the bylaws, which she described as “idiotic”.

She lambasted the “incomprehensible decision” not to lower speed limits to 30km/h outside schools and she said it was “utter raiméis” (nonsense) that speeds can’t be lowered to 30km/h, if 85% of the traffic on that road travels at 50km/h.

Cllr Connolly said the bylaws were “flawed”, and cited the decision to leave Rahoon Road/Shantalla Road at 50km/h, despite a crèche and two schools on other roads like Lough Atalia remaining at 30km/h.

(Photo: A speed van on Bóthar na dTreabh on Thursday morning)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, including how each councillor voted and a map of the proposed changes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Corrib to be opened up as new tourism and leisure blueway

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first steps are to be taken next year to explore the development of a ‘blueway’ tourism and leisure trail along the River Corrib, from Nimmo’s Pier and onto the lake itself.

This week, Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that monies had been set aside to begin exploratory work on what will be known as the Great Western Blueway.

A figure of €65,000 has been allocated in the City Council’s 2021 annual budget to commission an initial study of what’s involved in the setting up a blueway trail on the Corrib.

“The Corrib river and the lake are a most wonderful natural asset for the entire western region and I have no doubt that this project has fantastic potential in terms of enhancing the tourism pulling power of the city and its environs,” Mr McGrath told the Galway City Tribune this week.

Should the project come to fruition, it would be the fifth such waterway attraction to be developed in the island of Ireland.

Already there are Blueways on the Shannon, from Drumshanbo to Lanesboro; the Shannon-Erne project from Leitrim village to Belturbet (Cavan); the Royal Canal at Mullingar; and at Lough Derg from Portumna to Scariff in Clare.

According to Mr McGrath, the attractions developed along the Great Western Blueway would be environmentally friendly, featuring such attractions as kayaking, paddling, adjacent cycle trails as well as scenic walkways and visitor centres.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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