For the first time in its 190-year history, St Patrick’s School in the heart of Galway City will be enrolling girls for the coming academic year.
Founded by the Patrician Brothers in 1827, St Pat’s moved to its current building on Lombard Street in 1954 where it accepted boys from second class on and was a feeder school to St Joseph’s Patrician College, the all-boys’ secondary school known as ‘the Bish’.
From this September, boys and girls will be invited to enroll for junior and senior infants, first and second classes. It follows a move last year by the newly-appointed principal Marian Barrett – the first female head in its history – to set up a breakfast club, preschool and afterschool to facilitate working parents.
The change to a co-educational facility will help secure the future of the school which has experienced a continual drop in enrolments. From a high of 1,000 students in 1959, last year saw 212 pupils on site, down from 232 in 2016 and 250 in 2015.
The decision to accept girls – as well as junior boys – means that the school will no longer to be dependent on other feeder schools for its five-year cycle. Sisters and brothers will be schooled together for the full eight-year primary school curriculum. By 2022 the school will be fully co-ed.
“It was very much parent-led. Parents wanted their sons and daughters to be educated together rather than having to do two or three drop-offs every day. We will now be a one-stop shop for pupils, from 8am to 6pm,” said Ms Barrett.
“We are in a 21-classroom school, which means we can take 500 or 600 children here no problem – it’s quite a deceptive site. We don’t need any money from the department, we’re ready to go and have a good complement of staff here too.”
The average size of classes is between 16 and 24. The decision to open up enrolments was announced late in the school cycle as the board of management were awaiting a green light from the department.
“We’re a bit concerned not a lot of parents know this is happening, which is why we had an open evening for all past pupils yesterday so they can see all the amazing changes in the school,” she explained.
“Please God this will secure our future for another few hundred years.”
As for the reaction of the current male pupil population, the principal admits that some were less than impressed with the arrival of the female species.
“Most of them are very excited at having younger brothers and sisters in the same school. They’ll be able to talk about their sports day, share what happened and parents will not have to be doing loads of drops and pick-ups.
“It’s the way it should be to be honest.”
Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.
The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.
“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.
He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.
Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.
The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.
‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.
Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.
Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.
He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.
“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.
“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.
In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.
Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.
Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
BY ANDREW HAMILTON
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.
Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.
The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.
Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.
Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.
Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.
Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.