'History of Home Computing' Exhibition in Galway City Museum

One of my ambitions came true recently when I helped launch the 'History of Home Computing' Exhibition in the Galway City Museum. The event was organised under the auspices of the eGalway group of the Galway City Development Board and will run until the end of January 2009.(L-R) Breandan O Heaghra (Galway City Museum), Mayor Padraic Conneely & Dr. Chris Coughlan (Hewlett-Packard)

A Christmas Experience in Galway City

Walking Down a Festooned-covered Shop Street

Coordinating (in my capacity as DERI Education Outreach Officer) the distribution of free laptop computers to the children of Scoil Bhríde in the village of Menlo
Photos below show DERI's Lukasz (elf) & Bill Mc Daniel (Santa) being the pupils best friends!
Enjoying the party to celebrate the launch of the Countdown Clock for the 'Volvo Ocean Race' in Galway's newest restaurant Pier 88 (Photo below shows Dr. Noirin Burke and my beautiful wife Cepta). The Round-the-World race will visit Galway in Summer 2009.____________
Acting as Santa's little helper at the Christmas Party for the children of the Eglinton Asylum Seeker's Accommodation Centre
(I am dressed in red on front right of the picture below!)

Attending the Adult Asylum Seekers Christmas Party at the Slovakian-owned KRCMA bar in Salthill which I co-launched with local Fianna Fáil TD Frank Fahey____________

Experiencing the joy of Carole Singing by candle light with hundreds of others in the famed & hallowed medieval church of St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve____________
Decorating the home for Christmas
Witnessing the excitement of my young son as he torn open his presents on Christmas morning
Watching in awe the hundreds of swimmers who participated in the Charity Swim on Christmas Day (I am going to participate next year!)

Social Time Bomb Looms in Galway City

(from article submitted to local newspaper)
As an experienced local community activist, I feel that there is a growing sense of disenchantment in neighbourhoods across the city towards a political system that seems to have deprived them of their future.
It was expected that the wealth generated by the Celtic Tiger would transform Ireland into a more benign inclusive nation. Unfortunately this phenomena spawned a developer-driven country that created a congested suffocating urban sprawl lacking any proper transport and amenity infrastructure to meet the needs of all ages and where building levies were not sufficiently re-invested back into neighbourhoods. In the process the community cohesion and values that were once the hallmark of Irish society are being seriously if not terminally eroded. Local and state government have to take full responsibility for this. The partnership Galway City Development Board Strategy 2002-2012 adopted in February 2002 was designed to tackle this gross oversight with its commitment to provide qualitative recreational and community facilities in tandem with all housing developments. Sadly years of intense campaigning before and since the adoption of this historic agreement by local residents groups has failed to see this strategy implemented in Knocknacarra, Ballinfoile, Doughiska and elsewhere. There is no doubt that individual politicians and officials have done their best to try to secure progress. But with little or no success. Particularly betrayed are our young people. For while the era of economic prosperity provided few indoor public leisure centres and a solitary GAF café in Galway city, government policy facilitated the opening of ‘off-licences’ everywhere with their sales of cheap alcohol leaving us with huge social problems that will be further exacerbated by the rising levels of unemployment now occurring. Communities feel increasingly powerless and disengaged from the decision-making process as they witness the recent curtailment of public services, a withdrawal of police from suburbs at weekends and little progress on securing meaningful NGO involvement in the management of parks.
The onus is on local and national politicians to re-double their efforts between now and the June elections to implement those policies that were signed off in good faith with the community sector and the other social partners. I sincerely hope that they rise to the challenge and work together to achieve progress. Otherwise their legacy to the nation will be social exclusion and ghettoisation on a huge scale.

Ugliest Business Buildings In Galway. Part 1 - Advanced Pitstop

Certain property developers and business owners in Galway city have been allowed by City Hall for far too long to let buildings fall in an advanced state of disrepair thus undermining the physical look of the city. Hence I congratulate one City Councillor -Mary Leahy - for putting forward a motion demanding an inventory of all derelict properties and their owners as a first step in securing prosecutions.
However I am baffled as to why this was not done years ago by Galway City Council. For local authorities have the power under the 1990 Derelict Sites Act to presecute owners and in fact take over their properties if they fail to comply with the regulations.
Yet it is not only abandoned buildings that need immediate attention for the sake of beautifying our city. The Celtic Tiger stimulated a massive upsurge in the sale of rented accommodation. Many of these absentee owners saw their new properties purely as investment opportunities, as a source of rental revenue and cared little for their upkeep. One of thousands of badly maintained rented houses in Galway City

The inevitable result was that there are thousands of rented houses in Galway housing estates with badly maintained exteriors contributing to serious lowering of community moral amongst local residents. For why cut your lawn and paint your wooden fence when the house next door has a pampas-like front garden and woodwork that is rotting away!
This situation will get worse as so thousands of rented accommodation lie empty as the downturn in the economy leads to an return of Eastern Europe workers (i.e. former tenants) to their homelands
But even prominent city centre commercial properties can have a dirty, grimy, derelict look.
One example is Advance Pitstop on the Headford Road adjacent to Aldi and Lidl.
The owner lets his perimeter wall crumble, the pathetic looking puny shrubbery is almost permanently covered with discarded bottles and cans. and the rusty railings have not seen a a coat of fresh paint for years.
I am going to start a community campaign in early 2009 to get City Hall to introduce bye-laws to secure a minimum standard of upkeep on all commercial premises and rented properties.
It is critical that developers are not allowed to undermine the attractiveness of the city for tourist and resident alike.
Photo shows the rusty railings, broken wall and litter covered shrubbery that forms the front of Advance Pitstop
on the Headford Road
Galway City

Remembering College Days & Disco Nights as a Galway Student

Last weekend, circa 220 formers students turned up to a fun-packed Reunion at University College Galway.
It was an emotional experience for many of us as we re-kindled deep friendships that suddenly evaporated as we went our separate ways in life with our paths never again crossing. For myself (and others), it was also an opportunity to put out the hand of friendship to one or two people that one parted with on bad terms often over the silliest and pettiest of issues.

Click here to get a sense of student life in UCG in the late seventies and early eighties- a time of disco dancing, toga house parties, romance, fun, games, coffee shop discussions, passionate political debates, student protests, condom controversy, gay rights, women's rights.... the list is endless!!!!