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Mercy-Presentation merger to cater for 500 girls



There will be an official launch of Galway’s newest secondary school – the amalgamated Presentation and Mercy colleges – but far away from the grounds of the chosen school site.

The new school, Our Lady’s College, will open next September on the site of the Presentation after a protracted process to decide where to locate the new institution.

In advance of that, an official launch and celebration of the merger will take place on Monday at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

Mayor Frank Fahy, representatives of the steering committee, management of both schools, pupils, TDs and representatives from Galway City Council have been invited to attend. A combined school choir of 60 pupils will perform on the evening.

Catering for over 500 girls, the new school’s motto is ‘Excellence Together’.

“The school will allow for a broader curriculum and new programme options. Both schools are already cooperating closely in terms of the enhanced provision,” according to a statement issued by a PR company.

Dr Marie Griffin, CEO of CEIST, patron of both schools, stated: “The enhanced facility on the Presentation site will offer the opportunity to further develop the teaching, learning and holistic education of students into the future”.

Dr Griffin did not respond to queries from the Galway City Tribune.

The interim Board of Management for Our Lady’s College consists of parents, teachers and Trustee nominees, with Dr Pauline Logue of GMIT as chairperson.

The Presentation site was recommended by independent consultants in 2014 as it “requires the least amount of re-modelling of the existing structure and has the potential for expansion to accommodate a combined curriculum and additional teaching spaces”.

However parents and students of the Mercy were deeply unhappy with the decision, pointing to the deficit of facilities at the Presentation site such as a fully equipped gym, stage/concert hall, technology room, catering facilities and adequate parking.

The school uses the pool in NUIG and facilities at the rowing club and a local hall for its sporting needs.  Following a review into possible amalgamation in 2009, the Mercy site was assessed for its suitability while the Presentation Road site was not reviewed as it was unavailable at that time. After the Mercy site got the green light, there was considerable investment in facilities at the Newtownsmyth building.

The Government definitively ruled out funding a gym or technology room for the amalgamated schools, putting the onus firmly back on the patron to cough up for the facilities.

During a debate in the Seanad, the Junior Minister in the Department of Education, Damien English, said there was a policy in place to prioritise funding for teaching facilities.

He suggested that money raised from either the sale or rent of the Mercy building once it is empty could be used to fund resources such as gyms and computer suites.

Dr Griffin said earlier this year that students could be assured that facilities will be provided in the Presentation site to ensure they can access the full curriculum.  “CEIST, as patron, will engage with the Department of Education and Skills in relation to the provision of any identified deficits in the site.”

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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