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Students get to the heart of the matter

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



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

Judy Murphy



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

Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Apr-2013


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Archive News

After twenty years Sarah lands dream role in Druid

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 04-Apr-2013

 Sarah Lynch has been living and breathing Druid Theatre since she wangled a job as a runner fresh out of college two decades ago at age 20. After holding down just about every role imaginable there – from company manager to director to stage manager – her appointment as general manager to one of the country’s most prestigious theatre companies last October seemed almost inevitable.

Because once she had tasted the fruit of Druid she was going nowhere . . . and going everywhere. Sarah’s tenure at Druid since 1998 has brought her on a journey that has reached just about every corner of the globe and almost all the islands off Ireland in between.

After graduating from Limerick with a degree in French and English Sarah spent a stint teaching in a secondary school. But it immediately became clear that wasn’t the road for her.

“One thing I was always certain of was I’d be involved in the performing arts, whether on stage or off stage or behind it. The immediate reaction of the audience is such a buzz,” she grins.

Her earliest memory was of her grandfather, Bud Clancy, on stage with his trumpet and dance band. “I must have been three or four because he died shortly after that. But it never left me. I got bitten by the bug. I started playing the trumpet. A friend of my grandfather taught me how to play and I was with the Limerick brass and reed orchestra known as the Boherbuoy Band, I was just a kid with all these adults.”

She learned to play other brass instruments such as the French horn and cornet before turning her hand to the guitar and song-writing. “I taught myself guitar. Sometime I tinker on the piano and I think that’s my next instrument. I love percussion. You can’t get me off a drum kit for love or money. Many is the night I’ve made a fool of myself on one of those,” she laughs.

In 2010, Sarah released her debut album, Letter to Friends, which was launched by playwright Enda Walsh, whose short play, Lynndie’s Gotta Gun, she had directed as part of the 2008 Galway Arts Festival.

The collection of songs was produced by Wayne Sheehy, a musician she had met when opening for Juliet Turner on Turner’s Burn the Black Suit tour.

“I could probably have done it ten years ago but for the manic schedule with Druid and touring so much,” she reflects. “I haven’t done much with it since. I used to play gigs in the Róisín Dubh. The bigger twin is theatre at the moment. The bigger twin bullies the other twin. You don’t get much time to do music.”

After fleeing the classroom, Sarah knocked on the door of a former college mate, Andrew Flynn, now with the Galway Youth Theatre, who kindly offered up his couch. He also managed to get her a job as a runner – the person who does everything from making tea to helping with props – on a Druid production of As You Like It.

“I remember working with Mark O’Halloran, I had great fun with him. There was Helen Norton, it was Maeliosa Stafford directing. He’s coming back to the Druid after ten years to star in Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark. He left me as a runner, now I’m general manager.”

Much of Sarah’s time behind the scenes at Druid has been spent on the road. In 2009 alone, Druid toured to Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA presenting 364 performances in 26 venues.

Indeed so much of life has been out spent living of a suitcase that she gave up her base in Galway to move back in with her family in Caherdavin, on the Galway side of Limerick city.

The tour of the Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh was so long the crew were instructed to pack two suitcases, one with summer clothes, the other winter gear, as they would be spanning the seasons. Her job now entails a lot of commuting, but driving is where she gets a lot of thinking done.

Sarah’s decision to apply for the more home-based job of general manager was one she made discreetly while on the Druid Murphy tour around the US. She had to undergo her interview in between shows at the Lincoln Center in New York. It was the most nerve wrecking experience of her life, she admits.

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

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