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Project sees US students spend their summer months in Ireland

Dara Bradley

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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

Public meeting on sludge hub plan for Tuam

Declan Tierney

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The water treatment plant in Tuam

A public meeting to discuss the intake of thousands of tonnes of sludge from various parts of the country to Tuam is to take place next week.

And it has been stated that the proposal would result in around 80 lorry loads of sludge coming in and out of the town on a weekly basis.

The meeting on Monday in the Corralea Court Hotel at 8pm will voice resistance to the proposal – the public have until October 22 to make submissions on the proposal. Local Cllr Donagh Killilea said that the existing wastewater treatment plant in Tuam can only cater for the town itself and believed that this plan could pose a threat to the River Clare.

Irish Water have confirmed that both Tuam and Sligo are being looked at as being ‘sludge hub centres’ which would mean that waste from a variety of plants would be brought to the North Galway town on a daily basis.

It is being resisted locally on the grounds that the existing wastewater treatment plant is at full capacity and that any additional waste would prevent further development in the town.

According to Irish Water they have selected Tuam as a potential location for the effective treatment of wastewater sludge – they are inviting the public’s opinion on this issue. Irish Water say that sludge hub centres form part of Irish Water’s National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan to ensure the safe and sustainable management of sludge.

“A sludge hub centres is a centralised treatment facility for the effective treatment of wastewater sludge prior to reuse or disposal.

“The site selection report identifies Tuam and Sligo Wastewater Treatment Plants as potential sludge hub centres in the North-West region,” they have stated.

But Killilea said that if this is allowed come to Tuam, it will further damage the image of the town at I time when efforts are being made to rebuild its reputation.

“Tuam must say no to this disgusting development. Why should we take waste sludge from landfills, gas works, chemical industry and other hazardous plants, and have farmers spread it on their fields and go through our drinking facility,” Cllr Killilea added.

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Connacht Tribune

Publican prosecuted for allowing smoking

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A lit cigarette on a ledge inside a Loughrea bar during a HSE inspection led to the publican being prosecuted and fined for allowing smoking in a specified place on the premises.

Michael Dempsey of Aggie Madden’s Bar, Main Street, Loughrea, and his bar tender, Carmel Guinen, both pleaded not guilty to Section 47 of the Tobacco Act on December 9 last year.

Peter Gaffey, Environmental Health Officer with the HSE, told the Court there was a strong smell of cigarette smoke as he went through the front door of the bar and that he spotted a lit cigarette on a ledge between the pool table area and a stairs leading down to toilets and a rear exit entrance.

Downstairs, there was construction going on and he also noticed a cigarette butt on the floor of the men’s toilet, which also smelled of smoke.

He inspected the premises again on Monday evening, September 30 as part of the protocol before a Court hearing and again he got a strong smell of smoke around the premises.

He said he didn’t document whether there were ‘no smoking’ signage around the premises but equally didn’t document if there had been an absence of the signs on his first visit. However, he did notice signage on his last visit last week.

Another Environmental Health Officer, Chloe Harper, who accompanied Mr Gaffey on his December visit, said she too got a strong tobacco smell on entering the premises.

She said, after the lit cigarette was found, Ms Guinin had asked the four young men playing pool who had been smoking but they didn’t answer left the bar.

Michael Dempsey told the Court that he had run the bar with his wife for the past six years and employed three other people.

He said that he always made sure nobody smoked on his premises and told the Court that he had spent money on providing a steel canopy over the rear exit door seven months ago at a cost of €1,400 where his patrons could smoke.

He further explained that the cause of the tobacco smell on the premises was due to people leaving the front door open while they smoked outside on the street.

But he said that there was some confusion over E-cigarettes and whether it was legal to smoke them on a licensed premises or not.

“I have made every effort I can to provide a smoking area. There would be absolute war if I found anyone smoking on the premises. . .  but I don’t know if the E-cigarettes are legal or not. Some customers tell me it’s legal. I have a zero tolerance to smoking as I don’t smoke myself,” he said.

Carmel Guinen told the Court she was working on her own the night of the HSE inspection and that one of the young fellows playing pool had lit up and she had asked them to cut it out.

She had accompanied the inspectors during their visit and answered their questions.

Judge James Faughnan said he was satisfied that the HSE had made their case and convicted both Dempsey and Guinen. He said there was lots more Dempsey could do to make sure his customers didn’t smoke on the premises.

Pat Carty, defending, said Mr Dempsey was not running a thriving business and to take that into account by giving him more time to pay a fine.

Dempsey, who has a previous conviction for allowing smoking on the premises, was fined €1,000 plus €1,750 costs and has been restricted from selling tobacco for one week starting on November 1.

Guinen was fined €200. Recognisances were fixed for both and he gave them four months to pay.

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam Stadium unveils its new look

Declan Tierney

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THE OLD AND THE NEW . . . Some of the new seating that has been provided at Tuam Stadium as part of the extensive redevelopment project.

Spectators at last weekend’s county senior football semi-final at Tuam Stadium got a first glimpse of the revamped seated area that will become part of the long-awaited extended stand at the GAA venue.

That’s after planning permission was granted for the complete revamp of the stand which will involve the removal of the old ‘shed-like’ roof and the provision of new seating.

That ensures that, when completed, Tuam Stadium will have a covered stand with almost 4,000 seats, so that the venue will be able to host some of the top national football league and championship games.

Former Football Board Chairman John Joe Holleran said that works were progressing satisfactorily on the redevelopment of Tuam Stadium.

He also revealed that works would take place on the terraced areas which would provide the venue with a capacity of around 18,000 which would be sufficient to accommodate any provincial decider – although these matches are required to be played in designated county grounds…and Tuam is not.

But Mr Holleran, who is one of the driving forces behind the Development Advocates for Tuam Stadium (DAFTS) confirmed that more than €350,000 had been raised for the redevelopment of the venue and this has been boosted by a €110,000 plus sports capital grant.

However, he stressed that further funding needed to be raised in order to complete the project and that it why it was difficult for him to provide the Connacht Tribune with a timeframe for works to be completed.

Tuam Stadium was the first venue in Connacht to have a covered stand and the existing bench-type seating date back to the 1960s. They are in urgent need of replacing.

Works at the venue so far have included the provision of four new dressing rooms and the completion of a terraced area which will be equipped with around 1,800 seats that will eventually be covered in.

It was interesting to see the attendance at both the county senior semi-final between Corofin and Salthill-Knocknacarra – and the earlier county junior final between Glenamaddy and Salthill-Knocknacarra – make the most of the works that have already taken place.

Some of the maroon seats have already been provided and the white seats will be installed during this week and into next week, weather permitting.

Planning permission has been granted for the provision of a new roof for the existing stand but this will be extended over to new terraced area where the maroon and white seating have been provided.

Recently, local company Tommy Varden Limited provided €50,000 towards the provision of the provision of the new seating at the venue and that was an additional significant boost to the development.

Indeed, the late Tommy Varden, who was a staunch supporter of Galway football and an advocate of the development of Tuam Stadium, will have his immense contribution recognised at the ground.

John Joe Holleran said that the legacy that he left was immense and had to be recognised. “He was the fabric of Galway football during his whole life,” he added.

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