Ardscoil Mhuire and Garbally College TY Students Presents "A Night at the Musicals" on 11th and 12th May!
Get ready for a night of dance, song and music thanks to the talented students in Ard Scoil Mhuire and Garbally College!
With songs from Chicago, Grease, Hairspray, Oliver, Les Mis, The Greatest Showman and more you are guaranteed a night of fun and entertainment and before you know it you will be singing along!
Head along to Ballliasloe Town Hall on the 11th or 12th May at 8pm to catch some amazing talent!
Two new classrooms have opened at St Teresa’s Special School which is dedicated to the education of children with moderate, severe and profound special needs and or autism.
The school started with 11 students a decade ago and now has 36 children enrolled this year and caters to a wide catchment area across Galway, Roscommon, Offaly and Westmeath. The new classrooms are catering for 12 very thrilled pupils with all their new space and light!
Senator Aisling Dolan stated: “This is a great day for children, parents and staff of St Teresa’s Special School. Children now have the space they need to develop and with additional supports to help manage complex needs. St Teresa’s is a phenomenal place for children with an incredible staff and advocates.”
Permissions and Planning was sought by the Directors of B.A.C.D in order to ease the plight of the school. Site works commenced on the 10th of January on the lawn just opposite their current classroom suites on the groundfloor of the Enterprise Centre, within 10 weeks the Builders had left the site and handover was complete .
Principal Anita O’Reilly stated: “We have the keys and the classrooms are open. Children and staff are delighted and there will be a lot of interest in our newest classrooms. I have engaged with Department for years to show why this was such an important project for our school. We have parents who travel long distances across Galway and Roscommon to come to our school. Now we have the classrooms for access to excellent teaching and healthcare teams and to give children everything they deserve.”
A new four acre site has also been secured by the Department of Education through the HSE for St Teresa’s Special School on the existing HSE grounds at Parkmore Creagh. The new school will include a new 8 classrooms.
“This is a crucial investment from the Department of Education and the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) who supported the school in receiving funding for these classrooms and toilets,” said Senator Dolan.
The National 65 Roses Day collection this year will be promoted by two local girls - Caoimhe and Fiadh Ni Luing daughters of Grainne Ui Luing (nee Madden) and Caoimhin O’Luing.
Grainne (daughter of our beloved Bandmaster Noel Madden ) is a native of Creagh, and presently lives in Maynooth with her husband and two girls. Caoimhe and Fiadh were both born with cystic fibrosis and were delighted to be chosen as the face of the campaign this year – they were thrilled at their “photo call”.
The national collection will be held on 8th April 2022 and the Ballinasloe team – ably led by proud Grandparents Mary and Noel Madden - are gearing up for the effort. The picture shows Caoimhe and Fiadh at the national launch of the 65 Roses Day.
The B.A.C.D. before Christmas rolled out a new 10-year Overall Development Strategy for the Town and environs of which Tourism Development is to be one of three key pillars.
A Leader supported feasibility study undertaken during 2021 signposted the way for a new grouping to work collectively to focus on visitor attractiveness, and harnessing the potential of marketing the town as a key proposition within the Hidden Heartlands Brand and with the new Cycle Greenway soon to arrive .
Key representatives from the Tourism and Hospitality trade , culture and events, leisure activities , heritage & genealogy & community development groups were invited to a workshop in Gullane’s Hotel on 10th March.
The workshop enjoyed presentations on the Town 10 Year Strategy from Vice Chair of BACD Brian King and the summary points of the Feasibility Plan from the Co – Ordinator Colm Croffy.
Many of the main opportunities were outline and discussed in some detail with breakout sessions examining the way the various elements of a visitor experience needs to become more joined up across the area for things to improve.
Evidence was offered of the near 400,000 visitors in paid attendance to some of the more significant attractions in a 30 minute drive time – like Clonmacnoise and Athlone Castle in season 2019 and if even 5% could be persuaded to overnight in the locality according to FI data it would be worth at least €1.5 mil in revenue to business locally. If the domestic visitor could be encouraged to spend a day here – their spend of €72 could deliver another €1.4 million in income – and for every €1 million some 27 jobs are sustained !
Critically from Failte and Hidden Heartlands market research what the locale enviorns offers snuggled between the Beara - Breifne Way to the West , the Shannon Erne Waterway to the East, connected by both Blue way and soon Greenway will be an idyllic spot for off grid, tranquil tourism.
The creation of a cluster community tourism marketing and development group for all relevant organisations and hospitality interests within a 15km radius of Ballinasloe, led by the trade and community sector and co – ordinated by BACD was agreed. Many of the Heritage and Community groups from an arc North - South from Meelick to Ballyforan and from Shannonbridge/ Clonmacnoise to Dartfield were identified on the evening so as that the next larger seminar has even more district involvement.
A small steering working group was established comprising of Alan Harney, Frances Leahy (Town Hall Theatre) Gareth &Michelle McAllister (Ahascragh Distillery ) Matthew Hughes (Ballinasloe & District Vintage Club) Valerie Dolan (Ballinasloe Walks and Trails) Graham Bartlett (Inland Waterways Association Ireland - River Suck Branch) Billy Reynolds (Larry Reynolds Festival) & Ruth O'Brien (Shearwater Hotel) to take the plan and process forward.
They are planning on holding a larger scale meeting in a few weeks to invite all the stakeholders along with all the government bodies and funding agencies (Hidden Heartlands, Ireland Waterways, Galway Co Co , Roscommon Co Co., Cycleway , BMW Regional etc etc) to present the plan, the new Community and Tourism Sector Collective and to establish best ways of working together to anchor Ballinasloe – the third largest town in the Hidden Heartlands with approved accommodation as a key Hub Visitor town in the next decade.
For further details you can contact Lyn directly on 0909646516
A small steering working group was established comprising of Alan Harney, Frances Leahy (Town Hall Theatre) Gareth &Michelle McAllister (Ahascragh Distillery ) Matthew Hughes (Ballinasloe & District Vintage Club) Valerie Dolan (Ballinasloe Walks and Trails) Graham Bartlett ( Inland Waterways Association Ireland - River Suck Branch) Billy Reynolds (Larry Reynolds Festival) & Ruth O'Brien (Shearwater Hotel) to take the plan and process forward.
Paul Keighery has had unprecedented success in Galway this season picking up three ranking trophies and is currently the number one ranked player in the county.
His most recent victory was the City Singles Championship in Galway where he won the tournament comprehensively without dropping a single frame.
Ballinasloe Social Club started off the year with a bang after launching their first coaching programme for juniors aged 7-17. With over 35 juniors of all ages taking part in the programme which was held over four nights and was ran by committee member Paul Keighery who is a qualified snooker coach. PJ Nolan also attended the final session who is a national snooker coach and development officer.
The club also hosted TY students from Garbally on two different days for coaching programmes in January with over 20 students attending with committee members Paul Keighery, Adam O'Connor, Tony Ferns and Joby Kelly overseeing the sessions.
Open Monday to Friday from 5pm (for non-members) for anyone who wishes to come in and avail of the facilities to see if they would like to join in the future. You just have to pay for the lights which is €2 for 30 minutes of play. A club steward will be on duty at all times during opening hours.
Relaunch of Past Pupils Union
A group of past students came together in the last 18 months to resurrect and reconnect the PPU with Garbally College’s past pupils.
The multi-decade alumni consisting routinely of Martin Nunan Chair, Damian Mac Con Uladh, Paddy Feehily, Declan Kavanagh, Aidan Ryan, Alan Harney, Colm Croffy, Mike Shiel, Declan Kelly, Frank Turley, Declan Geraghty, Timmy Broderick, Michael Mc Cullagh, were aided with online discussions and contributions from a variety of class mates.
They have been working with the college authorities , Principal Paul Walshe and other stakeholders in demising and developing a proposed constitution and method of organisation.
To launch the PPU, an inaugural AGM has been organised, coinciding with the Garbally Golf Classic on Friday 29 April at 8pm in Gullane’s Hotel. The business of the meeting will be to approve a working constitution, elect new officers and to set out a programme of events for the year ahead.
Martin Nunan, Chair of the PPU Working Group stated: “I’d like to thank the group for their patience over the last few months. It has been a tough period, but we are where we wanted to be as a group for past pupils. We can now look forward to the AGM and keep momentum with our plans”
A draft constitution is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Final details for the AGM are being made but it’s hoped to facilitate those not physically present via Zoom Visit - Facebook page Garbally College Past Pupils for further updates and information or contact any of the working group.
Garbally Mansion To Be Sold
There was widespread disbelief at the local monthly meeting of the Ballinasloe Municipal District when the Executive in responding to a question from Cllr Timmy Broderick conceded that the matter of the disposal of Garbally House and some land had come before the Council Corporate Standing Committee before Christmas.
It appears the Bishop of Clonfert had offered the transfer of the House and a parcel of land for a nominal euro to Galway County Council but that a Consultants Report tabled to the same meeting suggested a sum of €4.2 million would be need to just stabilize and bring up to standard the same building.
The County Council Executive’s advice to the Group who need to approve such matters prior to a full Council meeting was that upgrading costs were prohibitive and that was before running costs and possible uses be identified.
A robust discussion ensured with the officials and the members over the procedures used in halting the negotiations and as to the significant possible uses for the House and attendant grounds.
The point was made by several present at the meeting that town was bookended on the East by a decaying St. Bridgids and the West by an opportunity with Garbally.
The 19th century house and sprawling estate could be transformed into something similar to that in Westport – which attracts thousands of visitors on an annual basis - suggested Cllr Timmy Broderick.
Cllr Broderick said that Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara was acquired by the County Council only weeks after they rejected the Ballinasloe opportunity for development potential and there was no reason why the same approach could not be applied in terms of Garbally.
Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) from Williamstown, who also attended Garbally College, supports the view that the development of the main house, library, steps and system of tunnels would make a huge attraction on its own.
Cllr. Michael Connolly who was a minority member of the Standing Committee that refused to recommend purchase reminded the meeting that he had sought permission to bring the matter in full to the MDC but Standing Orders prevented same.
Cllr Dr. Evelyn Parsons asked the Director of Services Eamon Hanrahan “ you advised us at a meeting last Autumn that the Council were powerless to do anything with the St. Brigid’s campus as it’s not the legal owner, we were being offered the ownership of this huge asset of a Mansion and our Phoenix Park of town and you rejected it?“
Cathaoirleach Cllr Dermot Connolly believes that there were other agencies such as Failte Ireland that could be in a financial position to acquire it, as the Council did not have the resources for it.
There was unanimity of the 6 public reps that this decision was too hasty and further enquires and discussions should take place with the owners .It was agreed that a report into it’s possible potential would be compiled by Galway County Council and discussed with the MDC.
The original Garbally Estate bought by the Diocese from the bankrupt Clancartys in 1922 comprising the House, gardens , farm – all the lands of the Hospital, HSE, Batchelors Walk , Ard Mhuire the New Scoil Mhuire site, The Dowagwers House – at Corheen in Loughrea plus valuable tracts of farmland - some 650 acres in total for £6,750.
Panel of Speakers at Tourism Launch:
Back Row: Gerry Finn (Western Development Commission), Brian King (BACD), Paddy Mathews (Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands) & Seamus Duffy (BACD)
Front Row: Steve Dolan (Galway Rural Development) Ruth Mulhern (Galway County Council Tourism Officer) Colm Croffy (IFEA Europe) & Eanna Rowe (Waterways Ireland)
Encompassing from the Beara Breifne Way on the West of the town and the Shannon Erne Waters system on the East; a new Community Tourism network was established at a launch meeting in the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe recently.
The launch night saw the Ballinasloe Area Community Development Company (BACD) outline how Tourism Development for the town and its hinterland is one of the three key pillars of the new Strategic Development Plan.
BACD had commissioned a GRD Funded Feasibility Study on the potential of a new Tourism Development which was presented to the invited audience of some 80 delegates from the trade and sector.
The Feasibility outlined how the scoping exercise identified almost 170 visitor related experiences / firms and services in a 25 km radius of the town Centre from Meelick Weir to Ballyforan and from Dartfield to Clonmacnoise.
A preliminary Map of O’ Kelly Country was circulated with some 27 points of notable interest on it and the plan outlined where the current level of evolution the network location is at, between Involvement and Development among the 3 Hotels, 21 Accommodation providers, 20 Services, 14 Live Music Pubs, 12 Restaurant / Cafes , 23 attractions, 12 Community Development groups, 7 heritage groups, 10 leisure groups, 17 Cultural and Events activities, 15 Crafters and 3 Artisan Food and Distillery firms.
The plan went on to identify how the new network could compliment the Strategic Direction of both the Beara Breifne Way Development Plan and Shannon Erne Masterplan in delivering the targeted visitor numbers that Hidden Heartlands has for the region.
The Plan used many of the benchmarks from the Destination Town Toolkit and the Community Network Guide researched by Failte Ireland to outline what actions are required to make the area more visitor friendly when the Greenway spur and Blueway of the Suck are completed over the coming years.
A strong panel of industry leaders contributed their perspectives on how places in undiscovered Ireland need to establish an experience and offer as well as just identifying assets.
Paddy Mathews CEO of Hidden Heartlands presented an overview on what his organisation were doing to maximise the potential of the region that had 80 % of the Wild Atlantic Way passing through it but only managed to keep less than 5% of the total visitor numbers to the island. He explained their target markets for season stressing the Northern Ireland and Domestic Visitor. He believed that some three years on, having first attending a briefing in the town – the group were on the right direction of travel and that he and his team from Hidden Heartlands would be engaging and supporting them.
“It's no longer enough to say come visit us and discover our assets, we need to bundle them into experiences that encourages people to play here when they stay here, this network will be significant part of getting that new message out there “, stated Paddy.
Ruth Mulhern the Galway County Council Tourism Officer was pleased that the Study referenced the Lough Derg Visitor Plan which she was involved in and outlined that the new County Tourism Plan she was currently drafting, would utilise some of the scoping work undertaken by the Feasibility - developing lesser known parts of the County.
Gerry Finn the Chair of the Western Development Commission referred to role of his organisation towards reaching out for new families and businesses to establish west and that a new look tourism feel to the Just Transition Zone of the Midlands with its emphasis on Sustainability and Eco Tourism was the way forward. He also offered many practical insights in how the King House Project and establishment of the Una Bhain Tourism Network that he personally worked on, is still showing success 25 years later.
Eanna Rowe, Regional Manager of Waterways Ireland was very enthusiastic about the plan and gave references to projects that he worked on in Killaloe and Boyle that had key learnings for the Collective. “The 7,000 boat owners are a very networked community and you must try with the launch of this network keep reaching out to a variety of groups and segments that will in time become ambassadors for this part of the country. The start-up if a new Local IWA Club on the Suck will be a huge building block in this “ he stated.
Steve Dolan the CEO of GRD Leader – who had funded the Study which has some 47 recommendations – the key to which is to form from a Working Party and new Collective – welcomed the Plan and the large, renewed interest in tourism. “From listening to the presentations from looking at the larger numbers of hinterland communities and key private investment support, we can see here tonight how much part of the Hidden Heartlands that Ballinasloe and its hinterland want to be”. He referenced the difficulties with Leader Funding in transition and spoke candidly about some of the projects he was involved in, in the past with Portumna Castle, Courthouse and Workhouse.
Many Oireachtas Reps and local Councillors spoke in strong support that the Collective was the progressive route to go in chasing new business and employment for the area.
There was a robust question and answers session with the panelists before the Moderator Brian King Vice Chair of BACD wound down the evening stating that the Collective would be establishing new working relationships with all the agencies on the stage in creating an innovative and dynamic Tourism Collective for East Galway South Roscommon and North Offaly.
The emerging Map and Summary of the Plan will be available on the BACD Enterprise Page and on this website over the coming days. For further information please email email@example.com or call 090 9646516
Local Tourism Working Group alongside Failte Ireland Representatives
Back Row: Lyn Donnelly (BACD) Tony Dawson (Fáilte Ireland) Brian King (BACD) Gareth McAllister (Ahascragh Distillery) Alan Harney (Town Hall Theatre) Billy Reynolds (Féile Cheoil Larry Reynolds) Matthew Hughes (Ballinasloe & District Vintage Club) Seamus Duffy (BACD)
Front Row: Paddy Mathews (Fáilte Ireland) Valerie Dolan (Ballinasloe Walks and Trails) Frances Leahy (Town Hall Theatre) Michelle McAllister (Ahascragh Distillery ) & Colm Croffy (IFEA)
Missing from Photo Graham Bartlett (Inland Waterways Association Ireland - River Suck Branch) & Ruth O'Brien (Shearwater Hotel)
Local Generosity For Ukraine
Dr. Konrad of Portiuncla Hospital organised a huge collection of essentials for Ukrainian soldiers and refugees recently.
The response from the local area was incredible and everyone contributed lots of essentials including blankets, towels, warm clothing, children's clothing, toiletries, lots of dry food, flashlight batteries, and medical supplies. The goods were transported to Dublin where two articulated lorries were filled and brought to a humanitarian aid centre in Poland to be distributed to thousands of Ukrainians refugees.
Dr. Konrad said he was overwhelmed by the generosity of the locals: “Huge thanks to the people who contributed, the response was massive. It really was more than we have expected. We actually received more than we had the capacity for but luckily, we had another warehouse assigned to us by authorities. I have been here for ten years, and I know the generosity of Irish people, especially when there is a crisis but the response really was just unbelievable. It was really heart-warming to see so many people are willing to help.”
Dr. Konrad explained there were still supplies being donated after the day of the collection and they are being distributed to Ukrainians who have moved to Ireland: “There is still stuff being donated and that is currently going to Ukrainians that have settled here, so we are trying to supply goods to them around the country. I know a family living in a three-bedroom house and there are nine people from Ukraine coming in on top of them. So, for the moment the supplies will probably be distributed here but probably in a few weeks time, some logistic centre will need help in Ukraine and Poland. Whatever they request we hope we can answer them.”
“If there is to be a demand for more goods, we will be notifying people through social media and hopefully we will see a response like we have already seen,” he added.
Konrad emphasised the importance of everyone’s efforts in the collection: “It was a huge team effort, there were thousands of people involved. I want to emphasise that the people who contributed were the real people making the difference. I’m basically channelling that help to get it to these places, so our role was really minimal, and it was the public that made the real impact.”
Fr. Bernie Costello Chaplin in the hospital has also been overseeing a financial collection for the support of the people in Ukraine: “I wish to thank you, the people of Ballinasloe and the surrounding areas for your generous financial contributions in support of my friends in Ukraine. Your generosity continues to be overwhelming and is very much appreciated by the people in Lviv – up to this point I have received €14,740 which has been transferred as of 24 March. Fr. Taras who is in charge of the parish of St. Peter and St Paul, Garrison Church, Lviv is overseeing the distribution of the money.”
“If there is to be a demand for more goods, we will be notifying people through social media and hopefully we will see a response like we have already seen,” said Dr Konrad
Recently Minister of Heritage Malcom Noonan TD announced €126,000 for 24 projects across County Galway under the Built Heritage Scheme, Senator Aisling Dolan welcomed the news that the Presbyterian Church in Society St. was granted €5,000.
The funds will go towards the further restoration of the church with external and internal joinery repair in the historic building. The building has now received over €40,000 worth of state Heritage funding over the past decade including a window preservation project in 2016.
In 1844 the congregation of Ballinasloe was organised, principally through the efforts of Rev. John Edmonds, who had been appointed to the itinerating department of the General Assembly's Home Mission. Soon after this, the church and manse were erected.
Considerable delay took place in procuring a suitable site, as the Earl of Clancarty was unwilling to afford facilities for the erection in his town of what he called a ‘Separatist’ place of worship. But the members of the infant congregation were resolute, and they succeeded at last in obtaining a valuable and suitable site.
The Gothic Revival form of this church is characteristic of its era and is underlined by elements such as the pointed arch openings, the pinnacles and crenellated tower. Prominently sited, the imposing elevation, enhanced by the good quality stonework and buttresses make it a notable feature in the streetscape.
The Church had active congregational activity till the early 90s and was sold towards the end of the Celtic Tiger era 2005 / 2006. Local Auctioneer Michael Mc Cullagh took charge of the communion table – getting it fully restored personally and arranged it to be deposited in the new the Library in memory of the Presbyterian community of Ballinasloe. He returned the memorial plaques which contained names like Bowden, Davidson, Cooke and Pepper who all died in World War 1.
Micheal had a personal interest in non-Catholic faiths contribution to town as he explains “My Great, Great, Great grandmother was a Rachel Hamilton from Scotland who did the unforgivable at the time, by marrying a Catholic and losing her €2K dowry and fled to Co Tyrone where my father was born in Plumbridge in 1906 and died in Ballinasloe in 1940.
“That church was probably the first church I ever saw as a child, St Johns the 2nd. as a young Boy I used to help ( Joe Kelly ‘s Pub grandfather ) Mike Kelly, who lived in a bungalow up behind the Whigham Hall, stoke the boiler and fill with turf for the 3 O Clock service on winter Sundays." recalls the sprightly Michael.
The roof was completely restored some few years ago and emergency repair work was supported to maintain the fabric of the building. Current Church owner Engineer Gerry Dolan stated:
"We have no short-term plans for this project, we are very much taking it step-by-step as we try to bring the church back to it's former glory. It is very much so a long-term restoration project."
Senator Aisling Dolan stated: “I’m delighted to see funds this year for the Presbyterian Church – it’s such an iconic building and these funds support the ongoing work by individuals to bring this back to its former glory.”
CLICK HERE to read the Latest Ballinasloe News Articles