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Smart approach helps kids who are struggling at school



Date Published: {J}

Does homework have to end in tears? Does your child have dyslexia or are you concerned about your child’s reading or if he or she is ready for school?

These are some of the questions that one Galway based Education Centre can answer, thanks to one woman’s decision to provide a service privately that should be freely available in the State education system.

Frustration with the education system and lack of resources for special needs education led to Mary O’Dowd leaving a profession that she not only loved but that she believed she had a vocation for.

But public education’s loss in Dublin, where she taught, has become the gain of private enterprise and families who wish to pay for extra tuition for their children.

Four years ago Mary, a Longford woman living and working in Dublin, decided to branch out on her own by setting up Smart Education.

This was geared at pupils who needed extra after-school tuition and though Mary saw a huge demand for it when publicly funded schools couldn’t cater for them, she was still surprised at the demand for the service.

“I never looked back really. I had asked for a jobshare so I could ease into it but my request was refused. From the day I opened up, I noticed a huge demand for the service, because they weren’t getting it in schools.

“I love teaching but I got frustrated when I saw that some children were being overlooked because schools didn’t have the resources to address everyone they should.

“You could say I was forced into a situation where I had to go for it but I am certainly not sorry I did,” she says.

Of course, Mary wasn’t to know when she set up her business four years ago that two years later her husband, who works for a bank, would be transferred to Galway and that consequently her business would have to move, lock, stock and barrel.


But she didn’t mind and luckily their best friends lived in Oughterard so they knew straight away that they would be settling west of Galway City. The couple, with their three children now live in Roscahill and the Smart Education Learning Centre is based in Moycullen village.

Galway parents and their children started coming to her in droves because the education system nationally is under-funded and under-resourced, so that pupils with any particular educational need are left to their own devices.

“I taught in a part of Dublin where literacy rates were very low, where there were many children with special needs, where some of them couldn’t read and didn’t have the skills to cope with study or homework,” Mary explains.

“I saw the way some children were under the radar in busy schools when they should have been getting extra help. It was so frustrating to see that the schools couldn’t provide for these pupils because I realised that with a little extra tuition and attention, most of these pupils would flourish.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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