What should we do?
What issues do you feel strongly about at this time? What can we do together as local community/church to respond to these needs in practical action?
These were the two questions in the Listening Survey recently put to about 100 people in the parish, representative of several groups in the community.
These were groups that responded to an invitation in the Parish Newsletter from the Pastoral Council. Each group met specially to consider the two questions. The very thoughtful responses from them showed that they considered the issues seriously.
The Main Pastoral Concerns and Suggestions
The easy access of young people, 13-15 year olds, to alcohol and a growing drugs problem in schools were two of the most strongly expressed concerns. The responses from the groups were essentially appeals to:
Parents and organisers of sports events to take more responsibility on this and involve grandparents because they can exert a very positive influence.
Give every support to the No Name Club.
Arrange for a well-known personality to address parents.
The need for our Parish to have a programme for lay involvement was recognised and recommendations were made also to explore ways of involving people in Scripture, Reflection and Faith Sharing.
Concern was expressed about the many problems parents have to cope with. In response to this it was suggested that a Parenting Programme should be arranged by the Parish.
Loneliness/isolation is a very serious issue. It was suggested that we ought to have better supports for those who are most vulnerable.
Suggestions were made for better facilities, (car parking, wheelchair) at the church grounds and street lighting to be erected from the Boys’ school to Lady’s Well.
A variety of other issues were raised, such as times for daily mass, reporting of weekly church collections in the Parish Newsletter and insufficient newsletters at mass.
Better Community Information and Amenity Facilities are Required
There is a widespread need among people for more information on local issues. Numerous suggestions related to this were made including:
Consider having a Notice Board near the Library
Publish weekly/monthly Community Newsletter
Circulate a Community Publication with details of local clubs, community representatives and things to do in the parish.
Update the Parish directory of clubs and societies and circulate this to all houses.
Publish a more comprehensive “Athenry Notes” section in the local newspapers.
Local clubs/societies should have “Open Nights” for newcomers to the parish and it was also suggested that we provide a meeting place where newcomers can meet church/community representatives.
The survey results show a need for a public playground for young children and a “drop-in” centre for teenagers.
Young couples, particularly those distant from Athenry town, have difficulties in getting child-minding services. It was suggested that we should investigate the feasibility of a Community Creche.
Farmers are concerned that some of their non-farming neighbours find it hard to accept some aspects of farming e.g., slurry spreading and silage. To overcome this lack of lack of understanding it was suggested that farmers should visit the primary schools to explain the farming way of life and facilitate visits by schoolchildren to their farms.
Other Concerns Expressed and Improvements Suggested
The survey shows widespread dissatisfaction with the poor state of footpaths in Athenry town and obstruction to pedestrians caused by parked cars. The survey shows a need for new pedestrian footpaths at all the Railway Bridges and in the Square.
Concerns were expressed also about the limited Garda presence, inadequate green areas in housing estates and the fact that there is only one ATM machine in the town.
There is widespread concern at the lack of interest by Galway County Council in providing Athenry with proper infrastructure.
The Next Steps
While the survey lists a wide range of issues which people feel strongly about there is a belief that there is much that we (Parish/Community) can do in a practical way ourselves,
We, in the Pastoral Council, will consider the issues in our sphere of activity that we should take action on. Of course, there is a large number of issues beyond our scope.
ln relation to these we intend to meet with the Community Councils in Athenry and Newcastle, Athenry ADC, the Chamber of Commerce, representatives of the Farming Community, the Social Economy Group and other organisations to give them a full understanding of the issues and the suggested actions from the survey.
Finally, in a few months’ time the Local Election provides us with an opportunity to elect representative(s) to ensure that Athenry issues are listed on the County Council agenda. In general, the people surveyed feel that we should grasp the opportunity which the upcoming election now presents.
Margaret Seery is Chairperson of the Pastoral Council.
Written by Margaret Seery
Published here 19 Nov 2023 and originally published Spring 2004
The Athenry Journal
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Lady’s Well, Athenry, Co Galway
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