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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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City businesses determined to weather lockdown storm

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Despite devastation for city businesses this week amid a return to lockdown, many remain determined to weather the storm – and with the Council’s approval this week of additional measures to entice people to the city centre when restrictions ease, there is a hope that a good Christmas could save them.

Level 5 restrictions which came into force on yesterday (Thursday) have forced ‘unessential’ retailers to close their doors once again in an attempt by Government to get a handle on spiralling numbers of Covid-19.

And while those affected, mainly in the retail and hospitality sectors, are facing huge challenges to keep their heads above water, they had to remain positive that all was not lost if coronavirus could be got under control over the next six weeks.

Anthony Ryan, of the Galway City Business Association, said that while closing their clothes shops had been hugely disappointing, he had to remain optimistic.

“We just have to stay going and remain positive. Our clothes division is non-essential so that is temporarily closed, in line with the Government guidelines. Items necessary for households are essential so that means our home store remains open.

“Business had recovered quite well by September, but once Level 3 was introduced, there was a big fall off for everybody,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

Many businesses, including his own, had made huge strives to improve their online offering in recent months and it was his hope that people would continue to support local when they shopped online, even if they couldn’t get in to the physical stores.

“Online sales continue to be very strong. We hope to have our fashion website up in a couple of weeks, so there has been a lot of work going into that in the background,” said Mr Ryan.

Meanwhile, councillors this week backed a plan that will result in an overhaul of traffic flow in the city core – transforming Middle Street into a shared-surface and eliminating all cars not owned by residents on the street – ruling out full pedestrianisation due to residents’ requirements.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Plan for new cross-city public transport corridor go on display

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is hopeful that a proposed new public transport corridor – linking the western and eastern suburbs through the city centre – could be ready to go for planning permission next year.

This week, a six-week public consultation process began on the ‘Cross-City Link’.

The Council is hopeful that a planning application could be submitted to An Bord Pleanála next year, and if approved, it would take 12-18 months to construct.

The Cross-City Link begins at the junction of University Road and Newcastle Road and continues across the Salmon Weir Bridge, through St Vincent’s Avenue, St Francis Street, Eglinton Street, Eyre Square, Forster Street, College Road and on to the Dublin Road.

“Through traffic, with no specific destination in the city centre, will be diverted,” the City Council said.

Uinsinn Finn, Senior Engineer with the Council said: “This corridor will connect homes with places of work, study, retail and recreation, with improved public transport journey times and reliability.

“High-quality public spaces, new and upgraded pedestrian and cyclist facilities and public transport priority will be provided, making it easier to move through the city, and to access destinations by sustainable means.

“This will create a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists and the mobility-impaired, and public transport services will move more freely. Deliveries and access to carparks will be facilitated, as will access to homes or businesses.

“The Council invites the public, landowners and other stakeholders to review the proposals, and to share their feedback,” said Mr Finn.

He said that schemes such as the new corridor are key projects and are “essential” to keeping the city moving.

“They are key to supporting sustainable travel modes and to support the ambitious targets for Galway as set out in the National Development Plan,” Mr Finn added.

He said it is anticipated the proposal can be submitted for planning consent next year, and subject to permission being granted, it would take 12-18 months to complete.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Pilot initiative will restrict car traffic around Galway City school

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have backed a proposal to restrict car traffic around Scoil Iognáid on Raleigh Row as part of a ‘School Streets’ pilot project.

The initiative, which involves a time-specific curtailment on cars at school drop-off and pick-up times, will result in the pedestrianisation of Raleigh Row, Palmyra Park and Palmyra Avenue – closed to traffic from 8.15am to 9.15am; and 1.15pm to 2.45pm.

Due to start on November 2, residents in the area will still be allowed access, but have been asked to “avoid using their car during the periods of pedestrianisation”, while those with blue badges will also be permitted to drive in the area.

Signage indicating the restrictions will be erected, while Gardaí and community wardens will enforce the pedestrianisation and parking respectively.

‘Park and Stride’ will be encouraged for getting children to school when no alternative is available, whereby parents park a short distance from the school and finish the remainder of the journey by foot – with registration enabling city school-goers’ parents to park for free in over 20 car parks.

Arlene Finn of the City Council’s Transport Department told councillors that 145 parents at Scoil Iognáid had already registered for this initiative, and by introducing the School Streets programme, the area would become infinitively safer and more appealing to parents and children wishing to walk or cycle to school.
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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