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Project sees US students spend their summer months in Ireland

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For years, students at NUI Galway and GMIT lived the American dream during the summer months on J1 working visas in the United States.

Now, a Galway father-and-daughter duo is offering a flavour of the ‘Irish dream’ to US students, through a unique summer school in Salthill.

Eight American high school students, aged 15, 16 and 17 enjoyed a jam-packed diverse programme of learning and activities over the past fortnight at the Galway Celtic Irish American Academy.

The concept is similar to summer language school students from the continent who travel here to learn English.

Except with this new academy, the American students learn about Irish culture, history, business, volunteering and much more, while being immersed in Irish life, living with host families in Salthill.

It is the first of its kind in the West of Ireland.

The two-week programme mixes teaching in the classroom setting, with exciting day trips and excursions, as well as sports and everything in between.

The academy was founded by Brian Fahy, an English and history teacher at St Enda’s College on Threadneedle Road, and his eldest daughter, Dr Johanna Clancy, a lecturer in management at the School of Business at NUIG.

“For a long time dad had the idea of bringing over groups of American students. But he didn’t know in what capacity, or what type of students, or what type of a package to put together.

“He had the idea initially, and with his knowledge of secondary school, and mine in higher level, we blended the minds as to what was needed right now and what was needed for the students for their college applications,” explained Dr Clancy.

They spent much of last summer doing the groundwork and market research in the States by visiting high schools, liaising with the Irish Consulate and connecting with an array of Irish American organisations stateside.

The pair piloted a programme this year, bringing eight students from New York, Michigan and Wisconsin, to Galway.

“I guess they just heard about us through word of mouth, through contacts we made over there in the Irish Consulate and through my two brothers, Brian and Peter, over there in St Pat’s Bar in New York,” she said.

The programme is primarily aimed at the Irish American diaspora. And there are plans to roll it out to students in schools across the US from New York to Boston, Baltimore, Chicago and Ohio.

“The structure of the programme is based around three core pillars,” said Dr Clancy.

“Number one is Irish culture and history. Number two is business and innovation and leadership, so I’m giving them classes in NUIG in business and innovation . . . then the third pillar is what they call over there ‘service learning’. It’s what we would call volunteer work.”

As part of the culture and history pillar, Páraic Breathnach of Galway Arts Centre, gave classes in Irish mythology and drama.

On a day trip to Dublin, the students visited all the historic highlights the capital has to offer, including the GPO and buildings of significance to 1916.

They also explored the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands and spent an afternoon in the Connemara Gaeltacht at a Coláiste Samhraidh.

As well as business classes in NUIG, while in Dublin they attended a lecture in Trinity College Dublin with Dr Paul Ryan.

Within the business stream, they visited Altocloud and Medtronic and toured Portershed, the innovation district in the city.

“Altocloud is Irish born. Its CEO is Barry O’Sullivan the dragon from Dragon’s Den and Medtronic is a massive US company in Galway, the biggest medical devices company in the world, who have their plant in Ballybrit,” said Dr Clancy.

The ‘service learning’ or volunteering section of the programme was vital, said Dr Clancy.

“We hadn’t realised it would be needed until we started talking to schools over there. High school students for their college applications, they need service learning. Their college applications are so competitive that what matters is not just your grades but also these types of experiences, and the type of volunteer work that you do.”

The group volunteered with Galway Simon during their stint here, and they climbed Diamond Hill, which was sponsored by Ulster Bank, arranged by Galway senior footballer Finian Hanley, with the monies raised going to Simon.

“We wanted them to be more globally aware. As you know a lot of Americans don’t even have passports. So we wanted them to understand global awareness and they are doing that through their volunteer work with Galway Simon. The whole thing is about giving back,” she said.

The activities during the two weeks were too plentiful to mention. They visited Galway Museum, drank soft drinks while listening to traditional Irish music in Taaffe’s Bar on Shop Street, and ate ice-creams from Supermac’s as they watched the giant Insects street spectacle as part of Galway International Arts Festival at Eyre Square.

As part of their volunteer work, the students did some soccer training and joined-up with the Corrib Rangers girls’ team, and were given some GAA coaching.

Also on the sporting front, Dr Clancy’s husband, Paul Clancy, a former All-Ireland winner with Galway and Moycullen, brought them to Pearse Stadium for the Connacht Final drawn game between Roscommon and Galway.

“They loved it. They couldn’t get over the atmosphere. The weather was absolutely rotten. They were like drowned rats, they were wrecked tired but they couldn’t get over the craic and the atmosphere at the match. One of the guys said to me – he’s only 16 or 17 and has travelled a lot – and he said: ‘I’m so happy I’ve come here. I can’t get over how friendly the people are and how nice it is to be here.’ They all really enjoyed their time here,” added Dr Clancy.

■ For more information about the academy, visit the website.

Connacht Tribune

Joyce’s Tribune inspiration for Finnegan’s Wake!

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James Joyce's statue in Dublin.

James Joyce copied copiously from the Connacht Tribune when it came to creating his complex novel Finnegans Wake where he intertwined events of the real world and that of his dreams.

He had relatives of his wife Nora send him over copies of the Tribune in 1924, from which he would pour over local news, sports reports, letters to the editor and even advertisements.

An art teacher in Dublin, who has spent 14 years creating illustrations inspired by Finnegans Walk, hopes to create pieces of art specifically highlighting those Galway sections of the novel.

Carole Wade is hoping people here who have anecdotes and connections with Ireland’s most famous author will relay those to her which can then be incorporated into the artwork. It will eventually be donated to the Moore Institute in the University of Galway.

Her sister Dr Frances McCormack in the university’s School of English and Creative Arts has reached out to her fellow academics to collaborate. But her sibling is urging ordinary people to take part.

“I think it’s the most amazing book ever written. Ulysses is about a specific place and time but Finnegan’s Wake is about the history of the world. If you want to know about the Crimean War, every war and every battle in Europe – they’re all mentioned, even the Maamtrasna murders are there,” she enthuses.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Little Blue Hero meets Boys in Green

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Connacht’s Tom Farrell, David Hawkshaw, Niall Murray, Tom Daly, Gavin Thornbury and Jarrad Butler chase after Charlie Quinn during his visit to the Sportsground. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht’s trio of Irish rugby internationals found themselves facing (not quite) the long arm of the law this week when Galway’s newest Garda recruit turned up to join in their training session at the Sportsground.

Charlie Quinn – Garda Number 322 – was in full uniform for the occasion, but that didn’t stop him joining in a Connacht session with captain Jack Carty and, fresh from Ireland’s triumphant Autumn Series, Mack Hansen and Bundee Aki.

The seven-year-old from Creggs is Galway’s latest Little Blue Hero, following his life-changing bone marrow transplant – thanks to a donation from dad Niall, who underwent a pioneering procedure to ensure his platelets were compatible with his young son’s.

Charlie was given a tour of the new Garda Regional Headquarters in Murrough before being ‘blue lighted’ by members of the force to Connacht Rugby to meet his heroes.

And a day later, he still hadn’t come down from the high.

“He’s gone off to school this morning, fully clad from head to toe in his Garda uniform; he’s delighted with himself,” said his mum Cathy.

Niall and Cathy revealed the rollercoaster they’ve been on since Charlie was first diagnosed with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome is a rare genetic immunodeficiency that keeps a child’s immune system from functioning properly.

But thanks to the incredible work carried out at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, he’s now finally back to full health – and flying.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

GAA couple move wedding to give clear run to club semi-final

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Shauna Healy

IN the words of Shakespeare, ‘all’s well that ends well’ . . . and that’s certainly the case for the St. Thomas’ GAA club as a clash has been avoided between their All-Ireland semi-final date with Dunloy of Antrim and the marriage of one of their star players.

Originally, their match with Cúchulainns Dunloy, had been pencilled in for Saturday, December 17 – the same day that key player Darragh Burke was due to tie the knot with Galway’s multiple camogie All-Star winner, Shauna Healy from Ardrahan.

Following St. Thomas’ replay success against Loughrea in the county final on Sunday week last, the five-in-a-row Galway champions knew that they were ‘in a pickle’ with the All-Ireland semi-final fixed for the same weekend as the wedding.

Frantic behind-the-scenes efforts were made to seek a postponement of the match but with the All-Ireland club series on a very tight deadline, there was little room for manoeuvre.

Initially, Croke Park had agreed to switch the match from Saturday week to Sunday week, December 18, but this would have made for a very low-key wedding and reception on the day before at the Meadow Court Hotel, Loughrea.

Luckily though, for Darragh Burke and Shauna Healy, the Meadow Court Hotel had an alternative date available on the following Thursday, December 22, which the couple have now settled on to tie the knot.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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