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Connacht Tribune

Scramble for accommodation as Leaving Certs learn their fate

Stephen Corrigan

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With the Leaving Certificate results less than a week away, the scramble for student digs in the city is about to begin in earnest – with hundreds of Galway students set to enter the rental market for the first time.

For four years now, Galway students have been facing an “accommodation crisis” with the demand for lettings far exceeding the numbers of available properties.

As revealed by this newspaper earlier this year, a number of students have been retaining rental properties for the duration of the summer to avoid house hunting for the new academic year.

This, coupled with rising rents, increased student numbers and the loss of large amounts of private property to professional tenants leaves students waiting on CAO offers in an almost impossible situation.

The problem is compounded by worsening traffic problems in the city – making commuting between city and county a very unattractive option.

Speaking to the Connacht Tribune, President of NUI Galway Students’ Union, Lorcán Ó Maoileannaigh, said that problems were already arising – with the union being contacted by a number of students lamenting demands for extortionate deposits.

“The biggest problem so far seems to be the demand for huge payments up front this year – one girl was actually in touch saying that she had been asked by a landlord for €900 up front,” said Mr Ó Maoileannaigh.

The Students’ Union and the University have been working together to alleviate the problem, Mr Ó Maoileannaigh claimed.

“Your typical student accommodation in Galway, whether that’s Corrib Village, Gort na Coiribe, Dúnaras or wherever, is already full.

“We, both the Students’ Union and the college, have been reaching out to potential landlords to create digs – we hold information nights on the rent a room scheme which allows the landlord to take up to €12,000 tax-free.

“We had a financial expert in going through that – if people have one or two rooms to spare or their children have moved out, it’s a great opportunity to rent to a student,” said Mr Ó Maoileannaigh.

Meanwhile, Gardaí are warning students to be vigilant of scammers when looking for accommodation – with instances of disappearing landlords and lost deposits already being reported.

Mr Ó Maoileannaigh said that students were particularly vulnerable to this type of scam because in many cases, it is their first time dealing with landlords.

Kilconly man and President of the Union of Students in Ireland, Michael Kerrigan, urged students to be cautious.

“Use cheques or bank drafts to pay the deposit and keep copies of receipts of payments and any correspondence. Don’t hand over any cash to anyone because you will not have a record or trace of your deposit.

“It’s a shame that people are taking advantage of students like this. Students should visit the accommodation they’re hoping to rent before sending over any sum of money.

“Meet the landlord and ask for proof of identification if you’re unsure,” said Mr Kerrigan.

Mr Ó Maoileannaigh said that this was something first years should be particularly weary of given that they will be under tight time constraints.

“Our primary advice to first years would be to get looking online as soon as possible.

“A lot of people seem to have a negative viewpoint of digs but there are digs available and it is not something to be looked down on.

“A lot of purpose-built student accommodation will be booked out but it’s worth looking out for cancellations too.”

New, purpose-built student apartments are set to be available on Bohermore in the city this September with further private builds in the pipeline – as well as the expansion of NUI Galway’s Corrib Village.

GMIT and NUI Galway Students’ Unions have hit out at opposition to proposed student beds at the site of the Westwood Hotel.

GMIT Students’ Union, Mark O’Brien, stated: “The language used by residents that there shouldn’t be student accommodation in ‘our estates’ is a classic example of Not In My Backyard.

“Students have proven themselves to be valuable assets to any local community, and contribute to the local economy every day.

“We feel that councillors jumping in on this discriminatory blockade should have heard all sides of the story first.

“We have an accommodation crisis spreading through families, students and other groups with rents going through the roof. This number of beds will alleviate the pressure from the 20,000 students in GMIT and NUI Galway scrambling for somewhere to sleep.”

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell

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Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara

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Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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