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Teachers flock to make Galway their base for a month




Every Summer, students pursuing an MA in Educational Technology (online) from Michigan State University (MSU) have the option to enrol in an exciting overseas summer cohort programme.

The programme appeals to innovative educators, who thrive in a fast-paced environment, enjoy collaboration, and crave an exciting professional learning experience for one, two, or three summers in an overseas location.

Leigh Graves Wolf, a professor in Educational Technology at Michigan State University, has been heading up this programme for nine of the 15 years this course has been in place, and has recently made Galway a permanent annual destination for this programme.

“We chose Galway because it is a vibrant city on the edge of Europe with easy access via Dublin and Shannon, and there is no language barrier. For years, we convened in France but decided last year that we needed a change and ended up in Galway.

“Our students are well catered to by the locals and we have comfortable accommodations near NUI Galway, where all the classes occur. We had such a great experience last year, we have decided to make Galway a permanent location for our annual summer programme.”

Teachers from all over the world descended on the city last Sunday and will spend their days in class up-skilling to earn their MA degrees.

Prof Wolf, as the programme coordinator, has a lot of extracurricular activities lined up for the students, like day trips to Connemara and the Burren, a spot of fishing, and plenty of culturally-rich experience for the multi-national group like an Irish lesson from the employees at McCambridge’s followed by a drop of Irish coffee.

And it works – as past visitors intimated.

“After spending last Summer in your wonderful city, all I have to say is that the number one place in the world where I would love to retire is Galway, Ireland,” said Brent D Zeise from Bangkok.

“I feel like I am right at home in Galway. Friendly and social people, green grass and everyone appreciates good food and drink,” added Jillian McSweeney Nicodemus from Istanbul.

Although there are small scholarships available from MSU, the funding comes almost entirely from the teachers’ personal savings.

Some of them do make a vacation of a lifetime out of it and arrange for the rest of their family to join them. Others take the month to work efficiently on their studies before heading back to their day-to-day lives.

“We like to get the group together as quickly as possible to start the bonding,” said Prof Wolf. “Our first outing, a cruise on the Corrib Princess, which gives everyone a chance to get to know, or get reacquainted with, each other.

“As we are here in Galway for the entire Arts Festival, there is no shortage of things to do for the group and this is a huge attraction for us.”

At least half of the overseas students teach at international schools around the world or in US Department of Defence Schools. The teaching practices for this group of students revolves a lot around the Maker-style of education whose mission is to create more opportunities for all students to develop confidence, creativity, and interest in Science and technology, engineering, maths, art and learning as a whole, through making.

Because the student body is global, instruction in the overseas programme focuses on core ideas and research that inform good learning, teaching and technology integration.

Chris Sloan, now a permanent resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA and also a UCG alumni explains how he feels about returning to Galway.

“A lot has changed since I went to school at what used to be known as UCG in the ‘80’s; but what has not changed is the vibe of the place. Whether it is the beach at Salthill on a Summer day, the bustle on Shop Street, the music in the pubs – it’s no wonder people flock to this city. Whenever I go back to Galway, it reminds me of what a joy it is to be alive,” he said.

‘Staycation’ has been used so much in recent times that it’s almost clichéd – except that it seems we are all embracing it.

And if a group of 50 international teachers can also decide to make Galway their home for one month every Summer, it can’t be all that bad!

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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