New Youth Club Starts
It’s been a tough two years for many people in the community and one group who have had a tough time not being able to engage in their usual activities and meeting up with friends are young teenagers.
The launch of the club coincides in what has been a very difficult time for youth throughout the Covid pandemic and joining the club may be the perfect way to get back to socialising again.
The GAA nationally outlined the various benefits of being affiliated with a youth club which included, offering young people a safe space in their local community to come together to mix with their peers. It gives young people a sense of belonging in their community. Clubs can help individuals forge positive relationships/friendships with their peers and the leaders in the club. They also provide healthy, positive activities for young people, increasing their health, wellbeing, aspirations and engagement levels.
Consequently it was decided by a group of GAA parents to create a Youth Club in the Ballinasloe GAA Club House, located behind the Supervalue store in upper Brackernagh.
After a meeting with the GAA executive, funds were made available to purchase a pool table, an air hockey table, table tennis, and football tables and stock was bought for a small tuck shop. As the Youth Club becomes established there will be games, competitions, age-relevant talks and some day trips away are planned when safe to do so.
The Youth Club began in November and takes place on Friday nights from 7.30pm to 9.30pm and is open to young teenagers who are in Secondary school and are members of Ballinasloe GAA and Ballinasloe Camogie Club. Each person attending can bring a friend who is not necessarily a member of either club. It is hoped that the Youth Club initiative will help keep young people playing sport and will also encourage their non-playing friends to get involved in football, hurling, camogie.
The Club provides a social outlet for this cohort of young people to come together and enjoy themselves in a safe, supervised environment at a time of year when many of their sporting activities have not yet resumed.
There is a music system available for the member’s use and the clubhouse is getting much more positive use during the GAA Club’s offseason. There are club supervisors there at all times during the sessions.
There is an admission fee of €3 each night.
For more information, go to the Ballinasloe GAA Facebook page or contact club organiser Kathryn Gibbons on 087 9046140.
One of the largest town centre residential regeneration projects in recent memory undertaken by Galway Council is happening between Dooley’s Corner and the Mount.
32 new residential units are to be completed on the site with a part 8 planning application due before the full Council at the end of April this year. The project is being fast-tracked and funded under the Social Housing Development Fund.
Cathairleach Cllr. D. Connolly supported by his Municipal District Colleagues have been trying to ensure that an important national and international Heritage and Cultural attribute to the site be formally marked.
Eugene Watters, (Eoghan Ó Tuairisc) was born on 3rd April 1919 in the third house from Dooley’s Bar. Educated locally at the Boys School in the rear of the Town Hall and obtaining a scholarship to Garbally, where he excelled in Irish, Latin and Greek he qualified as a national teacher, and started in a boys’ school in Rathfarnham in September 1939, and the following year he enrolled in the extra-mural BA course at UCD.
While he had been writing since his time in Garbally, it was in the years from 1946 to 1960 that Eugene developed as a prolific author. Articles, pantomime scripts, poems and short stories flowed from his pen, the latter mostly inspired by characters and incidents recalled from his earlier years in Ballinasloe, where he and wife Una would holiday each year; boating and fishing on the River Suck.
Leaving teaching to focus on writing - from 1961 onwards the emphasis shifted to Irish, and in that year his first play in the language, De Réir na Rúibricí (According to the Rubrics) was produced at both the Taibhdhearc in Galway and the Damer in Dublin. Two years later Eugene was appointed editor of Feasta, a literary magazine published by the Gaelic League.
His first wife died prematurely in 1965 and he came back to Ballinasloe to live with family in the Canal Basin but continued to write. On 28th December 1972 he married Rita Kelly, a budding creative writer and a daughter of Peter Kelly, Brackernagh, and the couple went directly to take up residence in the South East.
In August 1981 they moved to another house, this time on the main road to Carlow. Their last move was to “The leap” near Enniscorthy the following June, where Eugene succumbed to a heart attack on 24th August. Two days later he was laid to rest beside his beloved Una in Creagh cemetery.
Other notable publications of his include L’Attaque, Lux Aeterna, Dé Luain, Lá Fhéile Míchíl, Infinite Variety, The Road to Brightcity, An Lomnochtán and Fornocht do Chonac.
There is huge growing international academic and scholarly interest in Eugene’s work especially amongst Classical and Indigenous writers and translators as Eugene’s skills in moving seamlessly between Irish , Greek and Latin have left an indelible legacy in a lot of interpretations which have recently come to light.
His penning of Aifreann na Marbh in Lux Aeterna (1964) about the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima remains the clearest and saddest Irish poem about World War II.
Ó Tuairisc's Mass is divided into nine parts: In the mind of its priest or poet, it corresponds to a single day in Dublin, August 6, 1945, the day Hiroshima was destroyed by "Little Boy," the world's first atomic bomb. It is being featured in a BBC documentary for the 60th Anniversary in three years time.
The poets earlier Irish writings on his youth and reflections on Ballinasloe are being translated and being published over the coming months.
At their November Meeting , Director of Services Mr. Hanrahan advised that the naming of the Dunlo Hill Housing Development would be decided upon by the Estate Name Committee. Mr. Hanrahan advised that a Badge/Plaque to Commemorate Eoghan O'Tuairisc may be possible at the house in question.
Read more about Eugene Watters in our Heritage Section
A Ballinasloe town native – Karyn Gavin is the new Community Development Officer with Galway Rural Development (GRD), responsible for ensuring the delivery of GRD’s Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) tackling poverty and social exclusion through local engagement and building partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.
Her work involves supporting community groups by delivering training programmes, governance supports, grants and helping with funding applications. She also identifies skillsets and conduct needs analyses within a community to help them decide what they need to do it and how.
“My main approach is to consult with members of the community and to try organise tailored supports to community groups who have not put structures in place such as electing a committee. Our online training programme has been successful but we are aware that this doesn’t work for everyone, We do facilitate a loan equipment programme to lend out laptops, projectors, go-pros and so on to registered groups and this has been greatly received with gratitude, especially for people working or studying from home. I also collect and share information weekly around online training & supports, and connect with other agencies working in the area to make sure we are giving the help that is needed in the area”, states Karyn.
“The usual way of meeting in local venues had to change due to COVID 19 to speaking on Zoom, which really hinders the development of a sense of community. Although there has been a real focus on trying to bring meetings into the digital age, through our training courses and our linkage with the Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB). So my focus this year will be on trying to help groups to come back together and rebuild themselves” explains Karyn.
Currently focused on registering existing community groups and also, importantly, registering new groups that might be developing. “I hope to identify local needs and plan to carry out a series of community events this year, which will be guided by what are the needs in the area and what supports might be of help based on advice from members of groups”, notes Karyn.
Thus far her project has supported - Care and Repair, Social Services, Youth Projects and Men’s Sheds through SICAP Community grants. A Befriending Project which was rolled out through Ballinasloe Social Services with the help of lovely support from Ballinasloe Meals and Wheels who both coordinated and delivered packs to older and vulnerable members of our community has also been resourced.
“I also am looking forward to working on projects with Ballinasloe Women’s Group, which had to postpone events because of COVID-19. Ballinasloe Care and Repair were also recipients of further financial support having identified fuel poverty in the community as a big problem. The project was successful because of our work with the great team of volunteers from the Care and Repair team. I also had the opportunity to link in with the resident’s committee in St Teresa’s, St Anne’s and St Grellan’s just before Christmas, when we were able to support the committee to run their annual Christmas social event. It was great to witness the fantastic efforts of all these local groups and look forward to working with them again this coming year” she enthuses.
In 2022 I will be giving priority to smaller marginalised groups in the local area and helping community groups to become better able to address issues such as tackling isolation and promoting education and lifelong learning prospects at grass roots level. I will be working to enhance existing strengths within the communities and helping groups to embrace innovation. This is particularly needed with the likely easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the revival of groups that have faced challenging times. I will also be assisting community groups in grant applications, encouraging networking and working with older people’s groups to ensure continued or better access to services, work with New Communities, traveller groups and with disadvantaged youth.
Since starting my position I am very grateful for the support I have received from local agencies, colleagues and community groups. I look forward to 2022 and working alongside community groups and also working in collaboration with various agencies and governing bodies. I can be contacted at email@example.com (087) 6217917 Monday – Friday.
Her colleague Marie Finnerty - a Development Officer works with individuals on a one-on-one basis to support their access to vital services. Marie assists with job ready supports such as CV Preparation, Interview Skills and completing application forms and also shares information, advocates for people with other services and refers them on to other organisations. You can contact Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone her on 087 1870689.
Linda Cummins, her other colleague in the Ballinasloe office is the Tús Scheme Supervisor, providing assistance through Tús, a community work placement scheme. Tús placements are with community groups and organisations which provide supports and assist in delivering services within the local community. You can contact Linda at email@example.com or phone her on 087 368 6347 for further information.
50 years ago this January 7th saw the death of one of the town's must cultural important characters – that of Lavina Sheridan or “ Brezzie “ as she was more colloquially known.
Since her arrival to the town in 1924 until the early sixties as organist to St. Michaels and Professor of Music at Garbally College – there was not a note or quaver sounded that did not have her imprimatur or legacy.
As well as her Church and College duties, she was a professional music teacher of both piano and violin – generations of middle aged and not so, around these parts owe their grounding in musicianship and singing to her!
As if that wasn’t enough, she also along with others, formed the basis for Christmas time and Annual live Musical Performance traditions that have been sadly lacking these past 24 months.
In 1923, together with five others, she produced the first opera ever in the town hall . As well as producing and being musical director, she also painted the scenery for this first presentation, " Trial by Jury." Then, in 1925, she staged “The Mikado " in the local Town Hall, and in 1927 produced the first opera, "H.M.S. Pinafore " in St. Joseph's College, where she was the musical director until 1960.
She was one of nine children born to William and Mary (nee Armstrong) in Ellison Street, Castlebar, and was a relation of Margaret Bourke-Sheridan. Her father was a commercial traveller for William Hogg Co Ltd.
Damin Mac Con Uladh researched that she was in boarding school in Sligo with his great-grandmother's sister. His Great -Grandmother was from Fohanagh/Caltra a Cahill lady. Their names appear next to one another on the census.
“In 1901, she and her sister were boarders at the Ursuline College, Sligo. Mamie is no 57 on the form and "Breezie" is no 58. It's important to note that she was "Breezie" then, so all the Ballinasloe folklore about how she got her name locally erroneous. She was known as “Breezie “ as a 12-year-old girl. “, reports Damian.
No 55 on the form is Marion Cahill. She was a grandaunt of Michael Mc Cullagh. Her brother AD Cahill had a business on Society Street, so the working assumption is that there may have been some link between Marian and the Sheridans and that may have led “Breezie” to Ballinasloe in the first place.
Damian’s father in his memoirs recalls being a pupil of her Dunlo Hill Conservatoire (where the late Packie Clarke’s house was) at 11 years of age and being requested to attend the Choir to help with the bellows of the wind organ in St. Michaels Church where allegedly in seeking more oomph for the drone and notes she would shout “more wind more wind!”
Lavinia spent time teaching music in Germany and Portugal before moving back to London after the outbreak of hostilities in 1914. She worked as a musical instructress to the children of a German Baron in Frankfort on Main.
On the death of her father in 1918, she returned to Ireland and secured a position with the Diocese of Clonfert to teach music in Garbally.
In 1960 she won the trophy for the best musical director at the Waterford Musical Festival with the Ballinasloe Group’s presentation of " Oklahoma" (the Late Liam Kelly Church St, Johnny Furey and Joe Hill – were all involved).
Jn 1970 she was honoured Bene Morenti the Medal which was given to her by Pope Paul V and presented to her at a special function in her honour in St. Joseph's College.
Even though we only see her as an Organist , teacher and Conductress - Breezy was a multi-instrumentalist. A niece Rowena Kilkelly’s memories are mainly of her playing the piano at family gatherings, but there are archival accounts of concerts at which Breezy sang or played the violin or harp.
In 1911, the Connaght Telegraph on the 4th of Feb ; reports “Breezie” sang the rallying song of the Gaelic League and later played the piano at a concert in aid of the Mayo County Infirmary . In 1914, she performed at a fundraiser in Castlebar for the local branch of the National Volunteers: "Miss Lavinia Sheridan, The Marsh, gave further proof of her claims to be an accomplished instrumentalist by the exquisite manner in which she rendered a charming violin solo." (Connaught Telegraph, 3 October 1914).
Past Pupil Oliver Whyte ( Retired GP Wesport ) recalls “Lavinia was a prominent person in Garbally during my term (1957 to 1962). She auditioned all new entrants to the College. She informed me that my voice was breaking, and to come back the next year. She definitely was a treasure. My voice never improved”.
Corkonian Gerry Keating in his late 80s who was an accountant in Paddy Lambs factory took part in the Student Prince in 1957 remembers her forming his raw vocal talent “When I had finished a serenade 'Overhead the moon' she pointed to me with her baton & said you are a diamond & I shaped you'. Within 2 weeks of the show, my job in Lynch's Abatoir finished but Breezy gave him a room for a few weeks before I left town “ states Gerry.
New Comms Team For LIFE
What an end of a COVID cycle – Jack Treacy the Shannon Soccer Fan, who sat at the reporters and videographers bench for seven months and then reported and compiled the last two editions from his Erasmus Embassy in Denmark, slips into the annals of history with some great memory making moments and firsts.
His key day in the sun came with the first ever visit of the Tainiste to the Enterprise Centre on a bright blue summery day and the U.L. undergraduate had to wait in line before a messy national media mob to patiently ask his questions about community enterprise .
For a young man who knew little about public admin. , community volunteering and dealing with PROS and subscribers he took to his task with gusto and elan. The Sanity of a very busy Editor was oft times saved by his erudite support. We thank him and wish him well in his studies and career.
We welcome our 20th Trainee Reporter - Robbie Gately a 20 year old, Knockcroghery second-year student at the University of Limerick , studying Sociology in a Bachelor of Arts degree . He tells us he has a keen interest in sports, playing football, hurling for his local St. Dominic’s and soccer for St. Johns. So no hopes of any transfers here this season. In 11 years he is the first Roscommon man to patrol the keyboard and phone for LIFE !
Like many of his years he has the travel bug and has visited Spain, Portugal, America, France, and Belgium and enjoys salads !
He is being joined as Trainee Videographer Pierre Mantoulan, a 20 year old second year Business and Marketing Students from Bayonne Business College, in the South West of France. Pierre is a huge rugby player and fan and is looking for Lansdowne Road tickets to any International match this season. He also enjoys Irish boeuf and Guinness and is hoping on seeing as much of the island and it’s charms over his programme. We hope they both enjoy working and getting to know us all over the coming editions.
Site works began on the Dunlo / Beechlawn Site with 40 units under construction and Church St Creagh with 38 units, this month.
It is nearly over a decade since such substantial new estates were built in our community.
There are now some planning permissions granted for an additional 150 units in Dunlo Hill , these new builds and the Glantune Village and Kilgarvave/ Portnick lands.
Galway County Council on the proposal of Cllr. Dermot Connolly took the remaining avenues of Glantaune village in public charge at pre Christmas meeting.
It is hoped that the works on the new Cinema Multi plex at the Dunlo Shopping Centre lands will begin during the summer months also.
Ballinasloe RFC held their AGM recently where they appointed their new committee members for the year.
In his President’s address, Club President Tom Waters remembered Paul Spencer a staunch member of the club’s committee who passed away during the year. “Paul left an indelible mark on this Club through his years of selfless volunteerism as a coach and various roles on committee and ultimately as Club President in 2005-2006. We as a club will always remember those we have lost and I would now like to pass on mine and the clubs condolences to members and friends of Ballinasloe RFC who have lost loved ones in the recent past. May they all rest in peace.”
The President also thanked all Club Volunteers, Coaches and Parents for their hard work and enthusiasm throughout the year. “Our great Club continues to punch above its weight and continues to be successful, producing players in both codes, representing the Club at both a Provincial and National level”.
The elected committee for the 2022 season is Club President Tom Waters, Vice President/Treasurer Pearse Keller, Hon. Secretary Jacinta Divilly, Assistant Treasurer Matt Carey, Director of Rugby Noel Mannion, Club Welfare Officer Declan Quinn, Communications Officer/PRO Kevin Keane, Youth Branch Delegate Paul Burns, Mini’s Co-ordinator Steve Goode. David McKeigue, Ann Conlon, Tom Horkan, Annemarie McCann, John McKenna, Tom Finn, and Liam Feehily.
There was good news recently for two of the club’s products, as good friends Shane Jennings and Oisin McCormack who have played with each other from an early age both signed professional contracts with Connacht. The men who have been part of the Connacht academy for a few years, will now join the first-team squad for the 2022/23 season.
The club’s finest ladies export Beibhinn Parsons has been making waves on the international scene yet again. Beibhinn’s fine 2021 year culminated in her being named the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women’s Player of the Year for the second year running. This incredible achievement for the Connacht and Ireland flyer comes off the back of some immense performances during the recent season. Parsons once again has proved herself to be one of the stars of the Ireland Women’s squad, capable of scoring amazing tries and digging deep when needed.
At the time of publication, Beibhinn is currently in Malaga, Spain representing Ireland in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series where she hopes to add a title to her already glistening CV.
New House of Alterations
There is a new clothing alteration service set up in Ballinasloe in the form of the ‘House of Alterations’. Proprietor Oksana Neviadomskaja who is a native of Lithuania, is bringing her area of expertise to the town in a new bespoke premises in Croffys Yard – Main St.
Oksana who moved to Ireland 13 years ago has a wealth of experience in the industry , as a gifted seamstrees. She has been in the clothing and garment alteration trade for over 25 years. Having previously operated in Athlone and Tullamore she has decided to move here as part of her new business venture.
Having noticed a niche for a service of this type in the town, Oksana thought it was the perfect place to set up in: “A few of my friends had told me that there was no clothing alteration service in Ballinasloe, so it seemed a great option for me. It is a very busy town and a service like mine can be very useful for the locals.”
She too accepts the Pandemic Shopping patterns have forced a lot more clothes purchasers on line but very often the mid quality garment requires fixings or minor alterations and to send it back to its origin or shipping warehouse can be costly or take upto three weeks . “ Its really difficult try and fix a zip or extend a hem on a special occasion dress if the material used in manufacture can’t take a stich “, she explains.
“I provide a unisex, same day alteration service that can mend a wide variety of items. These include shortening/altering jeans, trousers, skirts or replacing zippers on them. I work on bridal, communion, and confirmation dresses, which I can shorten/alter or restyle all types of garments. From men’s and women’s jackets/coats I can alter their length and the sleeves.”, she states.
For those worried about exact lengths cuts and finishes – she has a fitting room on the premises. She also repairs and makes interior soft fittings – like curtains, cushion covers , throws and other fabric items including shortening, hemming, taping, or joining them.
Her fees are modest for the time and skills – all prices are negotiated at the start of job but the inflation on wordly goods and shipping costs has seen component costs of fastners buttons, clasps and zipps – rocket in the last few months – a plain small zip can cost about €4 to €6 to buy before installing.
Oksana expressed her excitement at starting her business here and she encourages other aspiring businesses to set up locally. “Ballinasloe is an ideal location to own a business. It is a very busy, vibrant, lively town with quite a large population. It is an ideal location between Athlone and Galway. The people are very friendly and it is an all-round very nice town. I would certainly encourage a business owner to set up here, “ states Oksana
The shop officially opens on February 10, but Oksana is using these weeks as a testing period to see what the market is like. House of Alterations is situated in Unit 2, Croffy’s Yard and opening hours are 10am–6pm, Tuesday-Saturday.
Contact Oksana on 083 012 5463 for more information.
Women’s Safety Highlighted
In light of the horrific tragic killing of the young female runner Ashling Murphy, Cllr Dr Evelyn Parsons is making representations for the running track in Dunlo to have its hours of operation extended from 7am to 9pm and open Sundays and Bank Holidays in the strongest terms.
Having been approached by girls and women in the community who no longer feel safe jogging alone on trails before or after work or school as was their practice. The track is an excellent facility, well used, well lit, passively supervised, and with the possibility of CCTV security if the corporate directorate allows for it. She said meaningful measures need to be taken to combat fear regarding Violence Against Women. In the interests of female safety and that of the community as a whole, she is urging the Council to facilitate this extended hour request.
For the first time, Galway County Council turned the county Orange in response to Parson’s and Soroptimists Ballinasloe request on VAW issues during November. It is a UN Global 16 days of Activism on VAW each year. Tuam clocktower and county buildings were lit up in orange light, and she hopes to build on this project next year.
She passed a motion last month calling for the third Strategy on Domestic, Sexual & Gender Based Violence Services to be expedited before the end of the year and to have an audit on emergency accommodation. This got responses from Ministers McEntee and O’Gorman and had Senator Keogan .
Bernadette Divilly Book Launch
Bernadette Divilly ( a Dunlo Street native ) launched her new tome at a recent showcase in Galway Arts Centre's Nun’s Island Theatre in December.
The new book ‘Be Dance’ entails stories on Bernadette’s residency, capturing her ‘BeDance’ practice and incorporating the professional BeDance Development Quartet. Published by Letterfrack based company, Artisan House, the launch night on December 21, coincided with the Winter Solstice and attendees took part in shoreline walk to Galway Bay afterwards to celebrate the solstice.
Divilly’s Dance Artist Residency with Galway County Library Service began during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Bernadette had to turn to social media as a platform to showcase her dancing. “I created tutorial videos; made podcasts; conducted workshops and events using zoom. Be Dance is my own dance practice which evolved and took shape during 2020/2021,” she explains.
BeDance is seen as a way to meditate, to move the body and mind, and to relate through playful dance exchange. It’s used as a method to regulate the nervous systems and it allows for a diversity of dance movement skills and abilities, suitable for all adults regardless of dance experience.
In the book, Bernadette pays tribute to the participants, funders, and community members who got involved throughout the year. “‘I was keen to have a record of an extraordinary period which influenced the shape and structure of my residency. I took on the challenge in a playful, creative, and hopefully impactful way. The book pays homage, I hope, to all the participants, funders, and community who participated, and I wish to acknowledge the work of Artisan House in creating a publication that showcases this beautifully.”
Manager of Ballinasloe Library Una Kelly commented on the benefits of Ms. Divilly’s dance lessons: “Bernie's dance lessons were inspiring, bringing people from all parts of our community together in a safe and creative space either virtually or physically. It united people, created a community feeling of well-being, togetherness and support in difficult times. Everyone who took part felt united, had fun, and improved their physical and emotional health in a relaxed and very enjoyable environment.”
Una Kelly hopes the library can host more lessons in the future: “Before lockdown Ballinasloe Library was delighted to host a number of dance classes as well as lots of other community events. We are hoping that when restrictions lift, we will be able to resume all our community activities in the Church Gallery. We can't wait!”
Copies of the book are now available for loan in Ballinasloe Library. Further details on Bernadette’s work can be found at www.bernadettedivilly.com
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