The Ballinasloe Rugby Club’s conveyor belt of talent continues to produce players of great potential, with two of the club’s finest products nominated for some outstanding awards of late.
Matthew Devine capped a brilliant season, with the scrum half named Connacht Academy Player of the Year at the annual Connacht Rugby Awards Ball held recently, largely thanks to his terrific form for the Ireland Under-20s during their Grand Slam-winning Six Nations run. Devine played a key role in the under 20s winning all five of their games during the campaign as he wowed spectators and pundits alike with his excellent performances. Touching down four times throughout the tournament the award was due recognition for the hugely promising 20-year-olds form this season.
Aoibheann Reilly was also nominated for the WHOOP Women’s 15s Young Player of the Year at the Rugby Players Ireland awards. Having impressed for Blackrock College during the All-Ireland League season, Reilly earned her first cap for Ireland against Wales in their Six Nations opener. Reilly hasn’t looked back since and went on to be a shining light for the side during their campaign. Having now got the experience under her belt Aoibheann is now no doubt looking ahead to a long and successful career in the green jersey.
Ballinasloe Rugby club are holding an 8-week programme to encourage girls from the 8-14 to take up rugby in association with Irish rugby called “Give it a try”.
The course is designed to teach all the basic skills required for rugby through rugby based games and drills, they will be slowly built up to be able to participate in games by the end of the programme and participate in a regional blitz against other GIAT clubs.
Ballinasloe was one of the founding clubs to encourage girls into the game setting up both minis and youth girls teams. They currently have girls teams at u10 to u18’s level and have produced many representatives on both the Connacht team and now the Irish national team.
If you’d like to follow in these ladies footsteps or just have some fun and meet some new friends the course will be running until June 26, at 10am every Sunday at the clubs pitch, the cost is €10 per person which includes a free t shirt. You can register on the following link www.sportsmanager.ie/registration/event-registration
The club’s u16 girls team triumphed in the Connacht U16 Plate Final against Claremorris recently. There was some outstanding skill on display from both teams and it was an extremely close encounter with Claremorris leading by the narrowest of margins towards the end. The Ballinasloe girls never gave up and showed what a skilful and talented side they are and with the last kick of the game they came from behind to win 29–26 making it a fantastic end to the season for the team.
Ballinasloe Parish Pastoral Council have welcomed Rev Charles Nyameh as the new Curate in Ballinasloe, Creagh and Kilclooney.
Fr Charles from the Diocese of Jalingo, Nigeria, has been in Ireland for some time now and was previously appointed to Loughrea as a curate in St Brendan’s Cathedral. As well as his role in the Ballinasloe Pastoral Area he will be the Diocesan Co-ordinator for the Pastoral Care of Immigrants. He enjoys playing soccer and comes with a reputation of being quick on the ball!
Seamus Mc Guinness, the Chairperson of the Ballinasloe Parish Pastoral Council stated: “We are delighted to welcome you to our town and parish and wish you every blessing and support from all in the town and surrounding areas.”
Fr Charles was one of six Clerical Appointments in the diocese recently and Bishop Michael Duignan added: “I wish to thank all those who have been so generous in taking up these new appointments, especially those who do so in addition to other responsibilities. I pray that with God’s help those taking on these new roles will provide us with wise and dedicated leadership. My hope is that together we will continue to forge a way forward that best responds to the pastoral needs of our Diocese at this time.”
The Battle of Aughrim Visitor Centre is re-opening for the summer months and are eagerly anticipating the return of visitors after the last two years.
Since the centre last opened its doors significant refurbishment has been carried out by Galway County Council. A redesigned layout, improved information boards, and dozens of new props and displays will be available to visitors to view until September.
A new Education Zone has been created which is specifically aimed at school children. School visits will also be able to avail of the new activity pack which was produced by Dr Padraig Lenihan of NUIG. There is also a scenario game produced by Dr. Lenihan and Michael Riddell which allows visitors to act as a general and command soldiers on a map of the battlefield.
Visitors will now be able to see what a soldier in 1691 would have carried in his pack, see a surgeon's kit in all its gory detail, and admire the new sets, costumes, and props from the era.
This year’s marquee event for the centre will be Heritage Week which will take place in August. Many special events are being planned including a Walk About and Talk About with local group Cath Eachroma 1691. The group also produced a short photo booklet last year titled "Where Musket Balls Are Buried" which allows readers a birds eye view of the battlefield, along with detailed information about key sites. The booklets are available in Valerie's and Burke's shop in Aughrim village, or by messaging the group on either Facebook or Twitter.
A new app has been produced that allows people to get a virtually guided walking tour of the Aughrim battlefield. “Aughrim Tours Galway” was produced for the Aughrim Community Development Company. The app contains two tours. The first around the Aughrim Battle Site and introduces the armies and strategies that were deployed in the Battle. The second tour centres around the Village it’s unique history and many colourful characters.
The free app is designed so that a virtual tour guide will follow you on your journey and plays audio messages at each historical landmark throughout .The tour lasts approximately 2 and a half hours and gives you a great insight into one of the bloodiest battles in Irish History. The app is available to download for free on all Android devices through the Google Play Store.
Seasonal opening of the Centre is from end of May to 4th September with opening times from:
Schools tours, groups, special interest & educational tours are all welcome and enquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep an eye on their social media for updates, and information on tours of the battlefield can be obtained by messaging either Facebook or Twitter @1691Aughrim.
Louise Colohan a native of Harbour Road Ballinasloe native has been making waves across the Irish Sea in the Musical Theatre and Performance Scene when she scooped” Best Youth Director” in the North of England for her role in directing the Congleton Amateur Youth Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
The North is made up of 12 districts and there are approximately 150 youth groups adjudicated in the Awards. This is her second time to win this prestigious gong with her production “All Shook” up in 2016. She also picked up the award for Best Musical for Evita at the ACT awards recently.
From the Harbour Heart, Louise the daughter of David and Martina Colohan is now based in Knutsford, Cheshire but her love for performing came from an early age. She attended Ardscoil Mhuire where she found a passion for singing under the care of the late Kay Purcell. Louise commented: “The main encouragers of my love of performance in my formative years were my family, members of BMS, and a number of people I’ve worked with including Peter Kennedy, Paul Norton, Kay Purcell R.I.P. and Marie Power.”
Her first musical role came at the age of 19, under the direction of Paul Hughes, who would later become an inspiration for her when she began directing. Louise played a various roles over the years with societies in Ballinasloe and across Galway where she gained a lot of recognition for her performances.
Louise went on to move to the UK , hitting the ground running when she landed her first role and Noda Award within her first few months of being there. She travelled with different groups to take on roles which allowed her to make friends and theatre connections that would lead to other great opportunities further on down the line in her career.
“I’ve taken part in some great productions down through the years. The Little Mermaid, Elf the musical, Oliver, Evita, Steel Magnolias, Sunshine on Leith, American Idiot have been some of my favourites. The thrill of live performing is like no other. You get one chance to live the moment! It's electric and there is nothing like the feeling when the curtain comes down,” she added.
Louise currently balances her day job in the property sector, working closely alongside a team of architects and surveyors. By night she continues her work directing theatre productions for several groups. She still performs regularly and will embark on a UK tour in June as a lead vocalist. Her busy schedule also includes directing four shows a year, two adult musicals, a youth musical, and a play.
The performance sector was one of many that was impacted massively by COVID 19 with shows, musicals, and concerts non-existent for the past two years. “The pandemic’s effect on the industry was terrifying. So many groups, amateur and professional have suffered losses both financially and low return of audience at the start of the reopening. A lot of groups have folded and it's extremely sad,” she stated.
Louise is a positive inspiration for the young aspiring performers in the area and she offered them some advice on how to achieve their dream: “Learn everything you can from those around you, there is a wealth of knowledge in the Town Hall, use it, take all the opportunities you get, work hard and remain humble.”
Ballinasloe Snooker Club have continued their successful 2021/22 campaign with yet more silverware to add to the trophy cabinet.
Chairman Paul Keighery collected a huge national accolade winning the snooker and billiards Ireland Coach of the year. A well deserved honour following successful coaching programmes with young people in the area.
The club also hosted the Ger McGrath memorial tournament in honour of the late Ger McGrath who won multiple trophies in the club. A thrilling final went the way of Paul Keighery who defeated Adrian O’Rourke 3-2.
Abbie McGowan has started her new role as a librarian in town and is looking forward to bringing her expertise and her love for books to improve the overall library experience for everyone.
Abbie was born in Croydon in the UK has Irish connections through her father’s family in Sligo and Clare. She moved to when she was 9 and graduated from NUIG in 2012 with a BA in History and Archaeology, and did her Post-Grad in Library and Information Studies in Robert Gordon University Aberdeen. She has worked in a huge variety of different jobs- toyshops, book shops, pet shops. Among those roles she worked as an intern in Westside Library where current County Librarian Bernie Kelly officiates.
Prior to her full time move, Abbie was familiar with the town as she had previously worked at the Battle of Aughrim Visitor Centre for two summers in 2015 and 2016 and is the current secretary of Cath Eachroma 1691. She moved to Ballinasloe permanently at the start of the lockdown in March 2020 and started working in Ballinasloe Library last month.
Abbie’s love for books and reading began early: “Thanks to my parents I developed a love of reading at a very early age- I was reading Tolkien aged 6- and knew I wanted to be a librarian as soon as I realised it was a job. I love libraries because they offer a world of information and the exact same opportunities to everyone; when you come in through the doors of the library everyone is entitled to access the same services, “ she explains.
“I love the Church Gallery and the local history services. The Gallery has so much potential and I’m really excited to be able to work with a space like that. Ballinasloe is one of only four libraries in Galway that has access to a whole archive of newspapers. These are invaluable to anyone trying to research their family tree, for leaving cert and third level students, or anyone looking for information about the town. We also have a substantial collection of newspapers dating from the early 1800s that can be viewed on microfilm along with access to dedicated genealogy websites,” Abbie notes.
“The library offers audio and e-books, along with newspapers, a wide variety of magazines, and even online courses - all for free. Even those not interested in reading fiction can still find a wealth of information on a subject they’re interested in. For those that don’t use the library or think that libraries aren’t for them I would strongly suggest just coming in and checking us out. The library is one of the few public spaces left that doesn’t require you to spend a penny, and we have the potential to bring together any type of group you can think of, be it Vinyl Record Swap Meetings, Documentary Clubs, Knitting Groups, or Art Groups,” she enthuses.
“While I think reading books will never go out of fashion, I think libraries have expanded so much that the possibilities for the future are now endless. Libraries can now offer everything from 3D printers, to mum and toddler groups, exhibitions, and everything in between. We're only really limited by the imagination of the local community,” Abbie concluded.
To find out more visit Ballinasloe's Europe Direct Library's Facebook Page here or better yet - pop in to the Library!
Camcloon NS is a rural, three teacher school based in Ballydangan, Co Roscommon which currently facilitates 59 students.
As many locals may be aware, a new extension to the school is now nearing completion. This will provide the school with an additional mainstream classroom, a special education classroom and a wheelchair accessible WC. As a result of this new extension, the existing playground has been significantly reduced.
Camcloon NS Parents Association have been fundraising to build a new play area which will consist of a concrete play area, an Astroturf pitch, a new boundary fence, a bicycle rack and canopy and a biodiversity and sensory space.
As a way to raise funds the Parents Association have decided to host a concert with the hugely popular Brendan Shine in the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe. This will take place on Thursday July 28 at 8pm.
Damien Cunniffe Chairperson of the PA stated: “We are extremely thankful to the kind and generous support from people to date through our ‘Buy-a-Block’ campaign and donations from many local individuals and businesses. We must continue in our fundraising efforts to ensure completion of the project. We hope this will be a huge success and look forward to seeing lots of friends and supporters of Camcloon N.S. there on the night!”
The summer season of public recitals kicked off with a visit to Community Nursing Unit in Creagh recently. The residents enjoyed the occasion, and all were blessed with the sunny weather. Further visits to the other nursing homes in the locality will take place over the next few weeks as will recitals in the Town Square on Saturdays.
The Town Band Annual General Meeting will take place on Thursday 9 th June at 8:30 pm in the Band Hall, Dunlo hill. The Town Band will also participate in a collaboration with Marie Power and the BARA Singers with Song Fest 8 in Gullanes Hotel on Thursday June 2 at 8pm
Their Golf Scramble fundraiser was held last month and was an immense success. Winners over the two days were Tom Cafferkey, Ben Bleahen and Hugh Killeen, and the Ladies winning team were Dolores Finn Kelly, Anne Claffey and Margaret Kelly with Amie Doherty winning the raffle prize.
The Band also held an Easter Fete fundraiser in the Band Hall. It gave the public the opportunity to see the progress with the renovations to-date. There were twenty-one stalls displaying the absolute best of local artisanship. The large crowd that attended were treated to entertainment by the town band and by the Ballinasloe Active Retirement singers under the baton of Marie Power.
Attendees also availed of the delectable homemade confectionary delights. The children’s Easter Bonnet competition displayed the creative talents that abound locally with Ciara Gately taking the honours. The chairperson, Damian Naughton thanked the stall holders and the public for their support and presented Margaret Mc Donnell with a hamper in appreciation of her fundraising for the Town Band.
The group continues to practice in the Town Band Hall, as well as other associations including Music Matters and BARA Singers. If you are a part of a group who are interested in availing of the hall’s facilities, contact Damien at (087) 418 6536. The band will be looking for new members from 8 to 12 years of age in the coming months so keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates. Parents can register their interest in advance by contacting email@example.com
The East Galway & Midlands Cancer Support Centre held their Move Against Cancer Fundraiser recently in St Michael’s Square which netted a cool €7,000 for the services at the Brackernagh based centre.
The head to head competition involved teams of three using exercise machines to see how many miles they could clock up collectively in ten minutes. The treadmill started moving from 9am and did not stop until 7pm in the evening, with the first brave teams getting ready to compete from 10am. The response to the call for teams was immense with over 25 teams signing up to compete from across Galway and the Midlands, meaning the machines, that were sponsored by the Shearwater Hotel, did not get a break all day!
On what was a bitterly cold day, there was still a party-like atmosphere with performances from the Town Band, Ria Purcell Milkshake Dance and Performance Academy, The Boogie Men, In-Step Stage School, and Rachel Goode, to keep spirits high and all spectators entertained.
Support for the fundraiser continued with Connacht and Irish Rugby player, Ultan Dillane launching the day. He was joined by Six Nations heroes Mack Hansen and Matthew Devine. Shane Jennings and Oísin McCormack, Colm Reilly and Emily Gavin were also good sports, taking to the machines to see how far they can go.
Further support came from the Queen of the Fair Ashley Walsh and local businesses, Cathal Coleman Triur Construction, The Bread Basket, Domac, Eurospar and members of the Fair and Festival Committee. As the day wore on, it was clear that no-one was going to beat the crew of Ronan Garvey, Christopher Donnellan and James Garvey from Cappataggle who set an incredible distance of 11.25km.
Noel Gavin, Transport Manager of the EGM Centre expressed his gratitude for all who got involved: “An enormous thanks must go to everyone who participated on the day; they remained good humoured despite tired limbs and treadmill jelly legs! We are incredibly grateful to everyone who supported this fundraiser. We have raised over €7000, and all donations will go straight back into the Centre and ensure that we can continue to provide support and care for cancer patients.”
The construction of the long-awaited hospital expansion at Portiuncula Hospital is set to begin in the coming weeks.
The development will see a new 50-bed ward added to the hospital that has felt the brunt of a shortage of beds across Irish hospitals over recent years, it won’t add to the total bed tally – merely refresh the original number in a modern layout!
The replacement unit which was included under the new HSE Capital Plan 2019 – 2021, includes the replacement 50 bedded ward block, fire safety works, and lift replacement programme, had been due for completion in April. The 4,038sqm building which will cost approximately €25m is now expected to be completed by the middle of 2023.
“It is hard to believe that it has taken nearly three years since I secured the commitment for the ward block development at Portiuncula Hospital from the then Health Minister Simon Harris, but I now hope that the final legal issues can be completed and a contract signed to start the construction of this vital project,” said TD Denis Naughten.
Naughten described the progress on the development as “frustratingly slow” and that the delays in the completion of the project had led to “serious overcrowding” at the hospital.
Planning permission was first granted for the project in July of 2017 and was set to expire in August of this year. The HSE were granted an extension of planning permission for the construction of the new ward block by the county council and stated that the extension was needed due to “financial concerns, requirement of enabling works to prepare for development, phasing works under a separate contract, and the unexpected delays such as Covid.” A contractor has now been selected for the project and hopes to start the build.
A new CT scanner will become operational at the Hospital by the end of July. Councillor Evelyn Parsons believes the equipment highlights a commitment to the investment and expansion of radiology services at the facility and allows the hospital to provide a high quality of care. “I had previously raised concerns over the frequent breakdown of the previous scanner, however, the HSE has now confirmed that building works to accommodate the new machine is at an advanced stage,” stated Cllr. Parsons. A temporary CT scanner is now on site and is currently being used to ensure appointments continue.
The results of a national survey were published recently, revealing the experience of patients at public hospitals last year. The National Inpatient Experience Survey covered a range of criteria, including admission, hospital environment, etc. asked patients to rate, out of ten, a wide range of criteria about their time spent in hospital, from beginning to end.
Portiuncula Hospital was rated 8 on Admissions; 7.9 on Care in the Ward; 7.5 on Examinations, Diagnosis and Treatment; 6.4 on Discharge or Transfer; 7.2 on Care During the Pandemic; and 7.9 on overall experience. Out of the 40 hospitals that took part, Portiuncula ranked 29th in the country.
The feedback showcased that areas of good patient experience included being treated with respect and dignity, cleanliness of rooms and wards, privacy while being examined or treated, confidence and trust in hospital staff, and pain management. Areas needing improvement included the availability of emotional support, time to discuss care and treatment with a doctor, information on how to manage a condition after leaving hospital, and the opportunity for families to talk to a doctor.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Trolley Watch reports that Data collected from the month of May showed a steep decrease in the number of patients waiting for beds. There were just 24 patients waiting on trolleys in the hospital come mid-May which were the lowest numbers in the midwestern region. The figures showed a 90% decrease from the same stage in April when some 125 patients were on trolleys and a 64% decrease from May 2021 when 34 patients waited on trolleys.
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