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CITY TRIBUNE

School principal departs after 40 years with host of fond memories

Stephen Corrigan

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The pupils of Scoil Éinde in Salthill have bid a fond farewell to their principal as Michael Gallagher waved goodbye to the school he has dedicated over 40 years of service to.

Much respected in the community, Michael says he felt the time was right to pass on the mantle of running the school in which he has taught since January 7, 1976.

Originally from Belmullet, the man who students described as “the best principal ever” embedded himself in Galway life and has become an esteemed figure following the transformation of a school that had severely decreasing numbers before his appointment as principal in 2009.

According to Michael, he recognised upon taking the role eight years ago that his primary task would be to bring Scoil Éinde back to a position of respectability in the community.

“Our numbers had gone seriously down and I suppose we were at a crossroads really so there was a bit of work to be done.

“That was the one thing I was conscious of when I was appointed, that would be the first task – to up the numbers and try to make the school attractive again,” says Michael.

In this, he was hugely successful and the school once again found its place at the heart of the community – with many believing that this was down to the leadership and commitment of Michael.

Of course, the man himself modestly says that it is a combination of the work of the staff at the school, a commitment from parents and the changing face of Salthill as young families started to move back into the area.

Reflecting on how this lifelong relationship with education began, Michael explains that it was never part of any master plan to become a teacher.

“I did consider teaching but I don’t know if there was any moment where I decided I actually wanted to be a teacher.

“I got the points in the Leaving Cert and I did the interview for St Pat’s in Drumcondra at the time and I was offered a place – I think I just fell into it really,” he laughs.

If it was a case of falling into it at the beginning, it was never something he tried to escape from and following his graduation for college, he set to work in Saggart, Co Dublin.

Three months later, he moved to Scoil Éinde and the rest, as they say, is history.

In his career at the school, Michael developed a relationship not only with pupils and parents, but with colleagues, too – something that he says he will miss most as he spends more time walking the Prom and honing his golfing skills.

He says that together with the staff of the school, he had a “sense of happiness” in the school.

“If you set an example and treat children with respect, that is huge and I think that if you give it, you get it back – I would like to think that I contributed somewhat to that,” he says.

Of his days at Scoil Éinde, a few of his proudest achievements include setting up school tours abroad in the 1980s at a time when this was pioneering – as well as the smaller every day things that have resulted from his work.

“It is lovely when you are walking in town and a past pupil that you haven’t seen in maybe thirty years comes up to you – you feel that at least they are still willing to say hello to you, so you couldn’t have been that bad.

“It is great when you see past pupils and you hear of them doing this and doing that and you feel that I might have had some little part in shaping that – a very small part, but at least you feel you were part of it some place along the way,” he says with a smile.

Michael feels that he is leaving the school in a good position and believes that his successor will have the opportunity between now and September to plan and take the school to the next level.

“I have enjoyed it – hopefully, I have helped children along the way and the children would have good memories of their time in school and that they have enjoyed it.

“I hope that they felt happy, secure and comfortable there, that they were encouraged and I would be happy to think that was part of my legacy in the school.

“The school will go on to be bigger and better and there are great people there. They will always have a great interest in the children, great parents and a great school – it will always be very close to my heart,” says Michael.

CITY TRIBUNE

Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island

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Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.

A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.

Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.

It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.

Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.

Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.

It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.

In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”

It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.

“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.

“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”

Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.

The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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

‘Detractors’ could hold up €10m Spanish Arch flood defence scheme

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has warned that the Office of Public Works and Galway City Council “may end up in the High Court” if they attempt to expedite plans for the €10 million flood defence scheme for the Spanish Arch and Docks areas.

Speaking at an Oireachtas Finance Committee meeting last week, the Minister for the Office of Public Works admitted his frustration at the length of time such projects take.

But he said that if he and the OPW attempted to “shave off time” in moving the project forwards, they would have to be mindful of “detractors” making accusations later and there being a legal challenge.

He was responding to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell, who said it was likely to be 2028 before the flood prevention works would be completed.

“It was revealed in November that it will be at least eight years before long-awaited flood defences are completed in the Spanish Arch and Docks areas – with the City Council estimating that it will be towards the end of 2028 before works conclude,” said Deputy Farrell.

Minister O’Donovan said: “The OPW is committed. There is money available. We do not have a worry about allocating money for capital spending. I say to Deputy Farrell, and to Galway City Council, that, if we can shave off time in advancing projects, we will gladly do so, but we have to be mindful of the fact that if our detractors make accusations later, we may end up in the High Court. We do not want that.”

(Photo: Flood Street in February 2014. Spanish Arch, Fishmarket Square and the Docks areas were flooded in storm weather during high tide. PHOTO BY JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY)
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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