Eglinton 'Direct Provision Centre' Galway- A Place of Hope & Friendship.

I would recommend everyone to read in full the very informative article by Stephen Corrigan in the Galway City Tribune newspaper that finally and publicly tells the truth about the Eglinton #DirectProvision Centre in Salthill Galway. It will be an eye-opener to those that have never been inside its doors and those who are afraid of such centres being built in their towns and neighbourhoods.
For far too long there have been rumours and false stories being spread about the Eglinton such as that a nightly curfew is imposed on residents, that there are no facilities, that no proper selection of foods is served, that staff and management are indifferent even hostile to residents etc. 
But these myths, based on the portrayal of the place being some sort of ‘inhumane’ prison camp, are an insult to both the people who work there and to those who live there.. As someone who has volunteered there almost on a weekly basis since 2004, I know most residents of the Eglinton over the years have recognised it as a place of sanctuary, of friendship and of community. So many of them tell me over and over again that Ireland provides a haven of peace far from the place of violence, racism, sectarianism, hatred, oppression, gang warfare, poverty or exploitation that their homelands have become; and that the Eglinton serves as a wonderful place of transition towards a better life for them and their families.
There is no doubt that this premises is indeed an old hotel that could do with a considerable injection of funding for a major overall renovation; that its owners (who I have never met in my 15 years there as a volunteer) make a nice profit from government grants; that personal living quarters are small with often up to three single people sharing rooms; and that the asylum-seeking process drags on for far too long leaving its applicants in a state of limbo. 
But the facility has a wide range of onsite facilities including a fine canteen, a state of the art pre-school, a community organic garden, a coffee bar, a function room for events such as Christmas (Santa's grotto for the kids) and birthday parties, an outdoor play area, and a computer room. Volunteers and residents will next weekend work together on completing a library. There is also a homework club for children, regular offsite activities for young and old, medical support and a weekly meeting every Friday evening where staff, residents, volunteers and support agencies get together to discuss issues, educational and recreational programmes as well as problems impacting on the lives of the Eglinton community. People from outside call every day to drop off gifts and meet residents. Whilst so many current occupants of the Eglinton are well known across Galway as volunteers in a range of city NGOs, from sporting to religious to environmental. 
One of the key strengths of the Eglinton is the high level of respect and friendship that exists between management (led by Patrick Mcgovern), staff and residents. It feels at times as if they are one very big family. A good example of the high esteem that staff are held in is that former residents regularly call in for a social chat with front line staff such as Carole Raftery.
The opening of such centres can actually benefit neighbourhoods. But of course local communities need to be consulted well in advance and local residents need to be brought to existing centres to see at first hand what they are like and how their occupants view them.
I wish all my friends at the Eglinton peace, friendship and prosperity for 2020

Highlights of Galway Science & Technology Festival- 'Today's Stories,Told Yesterday...'

The launch of the 1960s-1970s Science Fiction comics/films took place during the Galway Science and Technology Festival to complement the 'Secret Science of Superheroes' talks at Insight, Data Science Institute NUI Galway.
But also because, as the Festival's theme was "Climate Action", it was worth reminding people that current issues such as the devastation of oceanic pollution on marine life, environmental protests and man-made Global Catastrophe were also the concerns of teenagers and children fifty and forty years ago.

10 Years on, looking even better!

My fine son Dáire and lovely wife Cepta recently celebrated their birth days.
Ten years ago, Cepta was at Dáire's tenth birthday party in Galway Atlantaquaria, always one of his favourite haunts.
As you can see from a comparison between the December 2019 and December 2010 photos, the years have been good to them (unlike the father/husband!).
So here is wishing for another ten years of family togetherness!

Ruby of the Claddagh Shore

It was lovely to spend an evening over Christmas with the inspiring and environmentally-driven Ruby Lilly in a cleanup of the world renowned Claddagh seashore. Since the beginning of the year, Ruby (a true diamond!) has taken it upon herself to initiate and lead a local community drive to remove plastics, baby wipes, cans, bottles, fishing tackle and so much more from amongst the rocks, sands, seaweeds and grasses of the seashore.
It may deservedly have global fame but sadly Galway Bay is awash with the detritus of humanity.
Since time immemorial, our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers have been used as open sewers and dumping grounds. However since the modern era of plastics and agricultural pesticides, our life-giving waterways are becoming death zones to aquatic life. We know that one of the reasons why populations of birds, turtles, whales and dolphins are plummeting is because of the damage caused by plastics and other man-made debris. Galway-based third level science researchers discovered a few months that plastics were even found inside an array of microscopic creatures living in the deepest parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Sadly no part of the world is immune to the devastation caused by our species.
To support and highlight the great work of Ruby and other volunteers working in Galway’s parks, woodlands, bogs and seashores, there are plans being put in place to organise a large scale cross-sectoral city-wide clean-up of public lands in February as part of the National Park City initiative.
Details to follow after Christmas!

Jeremy Corbyn - the most vilified man in Britain

I extend my best wishes to Jeremy Corbyn in today's British elections.
In my lifetime I have never witnessed a British politician so vilified as Jeremy.
The British media(Sun, Times, Express, Mail, Telegraph...), largely owned by tax avoidance billionaires, fear him because of his commitment to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes to fund public services with the result that their news outlets consistently demonise him; large numbers of Labour MPs despise him because he exposed them (‘New Labour’) and their ex-leader Tony Blair for enthusiastically taking part in an illegal war under false pretences that led to the destruction of the Middle East and the death and displacement of millions of people; the right wing Israeli-funded UK politicians of all parties condemn the most anti-racist British veteran of the modern era with a trumped-charge of being anti-semite primarily because of his decades long support for Palestinians and a Palestine free of occupation and colonisation; the Unionists hate him because of his long term support of a United Ireland.
Jeremy has been a lifetime environmentalist, a campaigner against war and nuclear weaponry, for a more democratic EU, and an advocate for human rights and freedom of all oppressed peoples.
I have admired him since my youth when I remember him as a leading campaigner in the Anti-Apartheid and Nuclear Disarmament movements.
If truth, justice and honesty meant anything Jeremy would win today's British general election and be Prime Minister.
In a world beset by Climate Chaos, wars, a new arms race, increasing loss of citizens’ rights, unsustainable consumerism, intolerance, racism, growing inequality, biodiversity loss, and politicians serving greedy vested interests, we need visionary honourable progressive leaders like Jeremy Corbyn more than ever before.

Climate Action - 'Makers & Fixers' give a new lease of life to a 1980s MicroVax

Well done Gerry Kavanagh for bringing back to life a 1980 MicroVax mincomputer system manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).
Gerry assisted by Pat Moran has the computer running DEC's VMS (Virtual Memory System) operating system.
We hope to have the full system up and running at the museum by the end of next month.
In line with the Climate Action theme of the Galway Science and Technology Festival, our recent batch of recycling and upcycling repair projects at the museum are designed to reduce eWaste and to make computers and other communications equipment, that was otherwise considered obsolete and worthless, usable again.

Highlights of the Galway Science Fair: The Engaged Research of MSc students on Terryland Forest.

The MSc students studying Environmental Problems and Solutions students at NUI Galway hosted a very popular stand at the recent Science Fair, the finale of the great Galway Science and Technology Festival. It was always crowded thanks to the students ensuring that they had interactive aquatic and land fauna displays that intrigued people of all ages! This was indoors tabletop biodiversity awareness at its very best. So well done students one and all!

Working under the tutelage of our good friend Dr Caitriona Carlin, the MSc students have studied the ecology of Terryland Forest Park and have raised awareness of Terryland at various events.

At 3pm this Thursday (Dec 5th) in the Ballinfoile Castlegar Neighbourhood Centre, they are inviting people to take part in creating an action plan to make the park more accessible for the community and raise awareness of its value in terms of climate proofing Galway while also being an attractive, nature-based learning environment, especially for Galway's children and youth.

The aim of this workshop is to determine a future vision for Terryland in terms of nature, climate and human health and wellbeing.

Highlights of the Galway Science & Technology Festival: Computer Museum Tours & Talks.

I was overjoyed to be given the opportunity during the festival to offer a guided tour of the Computer & Communications Museum to St. Theresa's National School, Cashel Connemara, an educational institution that I am very close too for many years.
During the tour, the pupils were so attentive and asked me so many intelligent questions about the history of computing. But the tour was also an opportunity to meet up once again with the 'Special One', namely its principal Cepta Stephens.
Cepta is absolutely amazing in how she has helped transform this tiny school in south Connemara into a major contributor to so many competitions and public events, and wining accolades and awards in the process. Not surprisingly then that this school during the festival won the Galway Primary School Science Quiz at St. Mary's College, competing against schools that were so many times larger than it. In the last four years, they have also twice won awards at the Science Fair.
Keep working your magic Cepta!
Finally thanks to my good colleague Umair Ul Hassan for giving the pupils a presentation on his new research project entitled ‘Sharepair’, based on reducing Europe's fastest growing waste stream, namely electronic waste(eWaste).