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Students get to the heart of the matter



Date Published: 12-Nov-2009

One of Galway’s biggest industries this week joined forces with youngsters from a number of schools in the county, as the students learned how to design the high tech medical devices which have saved lives of heart patients, and created thousands of jobs in Galway.

Stents are used in battling heart disease, and are placed in diseased arteries to keep them open and improve the blood flow – without which patients with narrowed or damaged arteries could be in danger from heart attack.

And this week, as part of the Galway Science and Technology Festival, engineers from Boston Scientific in Galway, mentored students at special classes in the Galway Education Centre, where the pupils designed stents using a 3D software design package known as SolidWorks.

The classes didn’t just teach the students about design – for ‘Design and Communication Graphics’ (formerly known as ‘Technical Drawing’) is a subject on the Leaving Cert and indeed last year a question on the Leaving Cert Honours Paper asked students to show a design and elevation for a stent using the 3D graphics SolidWorks program.

Design and Communication Graphics is also subject growing in popularity – 6,204 students took the Leaving Cert examination paper in 2009, compared with 5485 in 2008. So, the special classes as part of the Galway Science and Technology Festival, could also be a help to students in years to come in their Leaving Cert.

Studying the design of stents is also particularly appropriate this year – for 2009 is the 20th Anniversary of the first use of stents on patients in Ireland. They have saved thousands of patients’ lives, as well as saving them the trauma of bypass surgery. Stents are inserted through a major artery by doctors guided by x-ray.

In 2008 alone, a total in the region of 8,000 patients in Ireland had stent procedures carried out. In Galway two of the city’s biggest industries, Boston Scientific and Medtronic, are both involved in stent research and manufacture and employ thousands. Both companies are major sponsors of the Galway Science and Technology Fair.

The special classes began on Monday, with Scoil Caitriona National School, Renmore. They continued during the week with classes from Clarenbridge National School, and Scoil Einde, Salthill.

Said Scoil Caitriona teacher Anne Marie Duggan: “The pupils were fascinated – with each one of them having a computer to work on and running a program as advanced as SolidWorks. We had done a bit of work in advance in the classroom on stents and so they also understood the importance of stents in modern medicine.

“The classes provided a marvellous opportunity for them to work on advanced design concepts and, of course, some of them will probably be using a program like SolidWorks in years to come when it comes to doing their Leaving Cert. They also enjoyed themselves.”

The Galway Science and Technology Festival continues with special classes, demonstrations and visits to schools until November 22. The finale of the festival will be in Leisureland and The Galway Bay Hotel on November 22 when up to 40 interactive stands from industry and education will be visited by about 17,000 students from all over the west. The aim of the festival is to increase the uptake by students of areas such as science and engineering.

Among the festival sponsors are Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Hewlett Packard, SAP and Galmere Food, with involvement by agencies such as the IDA, Galway City Council, Galway County and City Enterprise Board, the Environmental Change Institute, Coillte, Galway County Libraries, Teagasc, An Garda Siochana, GMIT, NUI, Galway.

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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