By Damian Mac Con Uladh
When the Lady Kennaway arrived in Port Phillip (now Melbourne) on 6 December 1848, it would mark the beginning of a new life for 191 Irish orphan girls on board who hailed from counties Donegal, Cork, Leitrim, Louth, Mayo, Queen’s (Laois), Sligo and Tipperary as well as Galway.
Among the orphans were 13 girls from Ballinasloe Workhouse, ranging in age from 14 to 19. Two more girls from the workhouse would follow in February 1849 aboard the Inchinnan, which sailed to Syndey. The girls had been selected by the Poor Law Guardians – who managed the workhouse – to avail of the offer of free passage made by the authorities in Australia to address the gender imbalance in the new colony.
Ahead of the 175th anniversary of their arrival in Australia in 2023, a project has been launched on Facebook to trace the subsequent paths of these 15 girls, to find their descendants and to reconnect them with lost family in Ireland.
Called the Ballinasloe Orphan Girls Project it was started by Martin Curley, a professional genealogist based in Mountbellew, and local historian Damian Mac Con Uladh. Martin decided to trace after helping an Australian man descended from an orphan girl from Mountbellew Workhouse connect to long-lost cousins in Abbeyknockmoy in 2017.
Martin hopes his current project will gather as many of the girls’ descendants in Ballinasloe in 2023. “For the girls’ descendants, walking in the area where their ancestors grew up in and meeting kin folk is a huge experience – it helps bring the girls home again,” he says.
“With the advent of DNA testing and the emerging large database in east Galway, not alone could we try and find descendants but we could also reconnect them with lost family here in Galway and elsewhere in the diaspora,” he adds.
Martin is also the founder of the East Galway Genealogy & DNA page on Facebook, which has attracted over 3,100 members since it began in May last year. The page seeks to help its members in their genealogical research by encouraging them to share their DNA results from the various testing companies to a dedicated ancestor project centred on East Galway on the GEDmatch website.
“Sharing our DNA results will make it easier to reconnect the girls’ descendants once we find them to their long lost cousins,” Martin says.
Find out more by visiting Ballinasloe Orphan Girls Project on Facebook (see below). You can also connect with the East Galway Genealogy & DNA Group on Facebook
Parentchild+ have been operating in Ballinasloe for five years and since then have served over 70 families. The non-profit organization ran by the Early Learning Initiative are based in the Enterprise Centre. ParentChild+’s vision is that every child enters school ready to succeed because every parent has the knowledge and resources to build school readiness where it starts: in the home environment . There are five trained home visitors all committed to carrying out this vision for our locality.
The programme initially began in the US 50 years ago and since 2007 has established 11 ParentChild+ sites in Ireland. They are open to all families of toddlers aged 16 months to 42 months in the community with no requirements needed to get involved. Families involved receive two 30 minute weekly visits within the academic school year. In total 92 visits are arranged and with Covid-19 these visits are via video call or an outdoor visit. The programme will start up again in term time.
Debra Greenan Co – Ordinator stated: “For the moment we are to stay outdoors or on video call but we hope to be all fully vaccinated soon to bring our learning indoors.”
This is a fun learning opportunity for both parents and children. Families involved receive a selection of educational and developmentally appropriate books and toys to keep, creating a quality home learning environment for them to use at their own leisure.
Although there is no monetary cost involved, there is an expectation for the participation of parents in each session and to make use of the books and toys as often as they can between visits. As well as following on with the weekly activities with a goal of empowering the parents as they are their child’s first and best teacher.
Ballinasloe’s Trained Home Visitors include Debra Grennan, Regina Tyrell, Shauna Somers, Yvonne Dunne, and Seenas Ahammed Sebin all local to the area. These ladies model appropriate parent and child interactions, using a non-directive child-led approach. All are required to have at least a level five QQI with many attaining higher levels and all receive ongoing CPD. All practices are in line with the National Curriculum and Quality Frameworks for Early Years, Síolta and Aistear.
One of the Mums engaged with the Programme Diana Popescu, explains: “It has been an amazing journey for my son and me. We both learnt so much, my son is flying with his colours, numbers, he enjoys books so much. I would highly recommend any parent to have confidence and try this program as it is incredible. I cannot thank enough our home visitor Yvonne, she is great, so nice and Luca enjoyed every single visit. I am sad it is over and will value all that was given to us. THANK YOU!”
Due to increased demand, there has been a waiting period for up to one month to join the programme but for those looking for positive child interactions, increased children’s social-emotional development and to foster pre-literacy skills essential for school readiness please contact Coordinator Debra Grennan Keighery at (086) 060 6002 or email at DGreenan@ncirl.ie. You can visit https://www.parentchildplus.org/ or visit their Facebook page below:
It may be off-season but it’s all a go at Ballinasloe Rugby Football Club (BRFC) with several teams back training for fun and fitness. Although there will be no competitive fixtures for some time yet. Mini Summer Camps have been scheduled for late July with further updates coming soon. Overall, it is recognised that they have an important role to play in the physical and mental wellbeing of its members.
Similar to other sports, players will be required to submit health declarations beforetraining/activities. While hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing will feature strongly amongst other measures to minimise risk to players, coaches, and volunteers. The committee and coaches are working hard to ensure the Club is prepared to welcome you all back for the 2021 rugby season.
Fundraising through its 50/50 fundraiser continues with ever-increasing members. The community’s continued support has been greatly appreciated. It is easy to enter by setting up a five euro per month standing order to the club or by paying a once-off €60 that will guarantee inclusion in the draw for 12 months. More details can be found on their Facebook page or from any committee member.
A very popular clothing collection was held to raise much needed funds, not only for the teams but also for a local worthy charity, Ballinasloe Lions Club. The collection is ongoing so keep an eye out on social media for further collection dates.. All money raised will help fund ongoing and future projects including pitch lighting, entrance safety enhancements, car park drainage to include tarmac and lighting, dressing room completion and other facility enhancements.
Some former and current players have also been shining provincially, nationally and internationally of late. Béibhínn Parsons has continued to feature strongly with the Irish Women’s squad in this year’s Six Nations competition with several tries to her name and some memorable performances. Colm Reilly has signed a professional contract with Connacht Rugby. BRFC offer their heartiest congratulations to Méabh Deely and Aoibheann Reilly who have been selected in the Irish Women’s Sevens squad for the International Rugby Sevens tournament at St George’s Park.
To get in touch with Ballinasloe RFC with their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BallinasloeRFC or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Head over to Ballinasloe Town Teams Instagram Page so you can vote for your favourite photo out of the five photo competition finalists!
We had a difficult time choosing them but we would like to say a huge well done to them and to everyone who entered! They are now all going for gold to win the coveted €100 @shopballinasloe.ie voucher! All you have to do is pick a favourite!
Voting couldn’t be easier - all 5 images are posts on our Instagram page – just like and comment under your favourite photo and that’ll count as two votes! Better still – follow our page and that’s an extra vote! Voting closes on Friday 4th June at midnight!
Keep snapping and keep sharing images from our beautiful town! #ballinasloe #ballinasloetownteam
Ballinasloe Town AFC (BTAFC) has been very active over recent weeks with the recent success of the 70 Mile for 70 Years Challenge raising €7,452.34 for St. Teresa’s Children Ward leaving the club with a balance of €17,598.82.
A €600 donation was also made to Brothers of Charity after a tremendous effort by Patrick Staunton. With the return of training for both senior teams and underage and competition returning in early June, a positive start is hoped for quarter three of 2021 with all guidelines being adhered to.
Chairperson Joby Kelly states: “We were absolutely thrilled to support the Children’s Ward in our home Town and also to see at first hand the great Community spirit that our Club event has promoted”.
The Committee have decided to run this Community Challenge on an annual basis and the Committee will select a different local organisation or charity to benefit each year from 30% of the overall profits.
The Committee also paid tribute to local Tidy Towns activist Eric Naughten for the outstanding work he is doing in recycling bottles and cans and in general clean-ups of the local area. Joby and Club Secretary Wayne Braithwaite recently made a presentation to Eric for his voluntary time and effort and as an acknowledgement have planted an appreciation tree (Magnolia) for Eric at the Curragh Grounds.
Development Co-Ordinator Johnny Walsh (who is also Treasurer of Tidy Towns) ,stated: “Eric has been an inspiration to the Ballinasloe General Public for his outstanding Tidy Towns work and the practical way he is addressing local clean-ups and recycling.”
Former BTAFC player Oisín Duffy made his first-team start of the Season for Athlone Town in April and has retained his place on the starting line up since. The club is extremely proud of Oisín. His dad Mark, has been a prominent and active Ballinasloe Town Committee member for several years and has been very involved in the managerial team for the senior squad for the past few seasons.
Former Player Heather Payne is now very much an established player with the Irish Senior Ladies International Soccer Team. In the recent International vs Belgium Heather was selected as the Carlsberg 'Player of the Game'.
Club members were extremely busy collecting scrap metal from households throughout the community as well as scrap metal items that would have been dumped throughout the local area. This is doubling up as the Club’s fundraising venture and contribution to cleaning up the local area also does our bit for the environment. After the community scrap collection drive, a general litter collection clean up in the general vicinity of the club grounds was done.
BTAFC is delighted to be back with our underage training sessions and Anyone interested should contact any committee member for details or check out their facebook page below:
The construction industry and Roscommon GAA lost a huge presence with the recent passing of Taughmaconnell, native Paul Flynn.
Schooled firstly in Taughmaconnell NS and later in the Marist College, Athlone as a border, his first stint in the working life was in Paddy’s Lamb factory but Brother Colman, Marist College got him a start as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor in London in the swinging sixties.
While possessing a huge work ethic, Paul was not an office man and left eventually to become a shuttering carpenter with his brother Michael. During his London days he met the love of his life, Mela and they married in Harrow and Tara the first of their two girls and four boys arrived to Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow in 1973.
All of the rest of the family Paul, Mark, Anne, John and Nial were Portiuncula babies as the family moved back to Kilgarve to set up Flynn Construction in 1975.
Paul was a major employer back in the 80’s and 90’s initially building council houses throughout the County and then went on to build schools, churches, housing developments, commercial and office units.
Paul was then joined by his daughter, Tara and son Mark in the mid nineties. The firm is now ran by his 2 sons, Mark and John (who also joined the company in 2014) and his daughter Tara.
His other sons, Paul Junior and Nial also got a great grounding working with their Dad for a number of years. His other daughter Anne, escaped somewhat but is now also married to a builder!
His love of GAA was huge since winning a county football title with Taughmaconnell U13's as a ‘no nonsense’ half back. He thrived in the supporters fun of going to Pearses and Roscommon matches with his sons. He loved days out in Croke Park regardless what teams were playing and always saw to it that sponsorship cheques kept the Padraig Pearses dream alive for his generation and the next.
He was also a hugely happy person when out socially, favourite haunts of his with family, friends and sporting colleagues, he enjoyed the conviviality and storytelling whether in Egans Pub or indeed Finn's establishment.
His integrity in business dealings, his dogged pursuit of quality and exemplary workmanship, sheer determination, and hard work were some of the attributes recalled that allowed him to steer his firm through recessions, economic woes and construction collapse. Many clients over the 50 years of his active involvement in the firm can testify to the craftsmanship, efficiency and durability of what he built for them.
However it was to his quiet faith and family of Mela, Tara, Paul, Mark, Anne, John, Nial and 18 grandchildren, his brothers and sisters that commanded his first and final allegiance. He doted upon the newest generation and was steadfast in his support and advice for his own brood, always happiest in their company and epoch marking events.
Ar Dheis De Go Raibh a hAnam
East Galway & Midlands Cancer New Walking Programme
East Galway and Midland's (EGM) Cancer Support Centre have announced the commencement of the ACTIVATEator walking programme – Ireland’s FIRST !
In conjunction with Athlone Institute of Technology and delivered by EGM Cancer Support, ethics approval has been granted for a pilot study in which the effectiveness of an Activator pole walking programme has on the physical and psychosocial health of individuals living with and beyond cancer.
ACTIVEator is the first Activator pole walking programme to be delivered in Ireland. It is also the first study to evaluate the effectiveness of this type of programme among individuals living with and beyond cancer.
Individuals who have completed cancer treatment will get an invite to take part in the programme. Participants will complete two activator pole walking sessions each week for 12 weeks. These sessions will be 60 minutes in duration and delivered by staff at the EGM Cancer Support Centre who have completed training in activator pole walking.
East Galway Midlands Cancer Support Centre is indebted to Frank Fahey from FITWALK Ireland for training and support and also to Galway Sports Partnership for their support.
For more Information on the programme visit the Facebook page below or or enquire at email@example.com
James Gavin is a five and a half years old boy living in Taughmaconnell and enjoys all the things kids his age do; Toys; Games; Cars; and his Tablet. During his nine-month developmental check, doctors had noticed that his right knee was bent. James has Cerebral Palsy which has badly affected his right knee. His hamstring has tightened as his limbs have grown and as a result of this James wears braces on both legs to assist him.
“James relies on me for everything, he can walk to some to degree but even for him to strap his shoes is next to impossible.” states his mother Elizabeth
The family originally hail from both Athlone and Taughmaconnell with James’s Father Anthony having a brother living in Ballinasloe and settled nicely with Anthony working fulltime in Roscommon as a HSE Store man and wife Elizabeth in fulltime care of James and his sister Kayla. James is currently enrolled as a junior infant at St. Ronan’s National School and the family could not be more grateful to the school
Elizabeth continues “The school has been brilliant. Lisa White is his teacher and Anne Marie Downey does his physio for him in school which is more than we could ever ask for. We are pushing for a specific SNA for James in the school to assist him wherever possible.”
Through much research the Gavin family approached Neurosurgeon Tae Sung Park with James’s Case, who has successfully performed over 4,000 Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) procedures, and he quickly responded claiming James would be an excellent candidate for SDR and this surgery would permanently remove James’s Spasticity and improve the strength and endurance on his legs.
The surgery, however, does not come without a cost. Two surgeries will be required within an intense three-week surgical period in which the SDR procedure will cost 40,000 USD and James will also require Muscle Lengthening Surgery costing 15,000 USD both at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri. James will then require two years of buildup physio at home to build up his strength as his legs will be very weak after the spasticity is removed.
Elizabeth commented: “This is a permanent solution. It is only a matter of time before James loses his mobility and while the thoughts of a wheelchair scare me, it is the pain he will have to endure on a daily basis with spasms that upsets me the most.”
A date has been set to undergo operations in late July and the SDR procedure taking place August 5. The family have set up a go fund me page to try and raise the funds for the €100,000 it will cost to cover the procedures, physio, accommodation and travel.
To date with the overwhelming support from friends, family, and the local community and No Uniform days raising over €1,860 for the cause, to date over €60,000 has been raised for the family. They are still €40,000 short of the needed funds as the family hope for a final push to bring them over the line over the coming months.
“We have been completely blown away by the community generosity . Especially with support of the fundraiser we launched. We were hoping to cover some of the costs, but the response has been incredible! This is the last thing we want to do but we do not have that kind of money lying around” , explains Elizabeth.
To assist the Gavin Family, you can donate at https://www.gofund.me/e457e062
Or you can track their journey on Facebook below
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