The Athenry Cancer Care Centre, was blessed by Canon Tony King P.P., and officially opened by Tommie Gorman of RTE on Saturday, July 5th 2003.

A relaxing garden party in fine summer weather with food and entertainment completed a memorable day.

“I’m sorry, you have cancer”

Without personal experience, it is impossible to understand the ferocity of that body-blow. Cancer has an image problem so a thousand questions, doubts and worries engulf the mind. The image of a one-way street looms large. There and then, it is difficult to believe that most people cope very well with cancer, go on to live enriched lives and have new appreciation for the things in life that really matter.

Support and healing

The Athenry Cancer Care Centre has only one agenda and that is quite simply to offer support and healing to people who have encountered any form of cancer and the people who support them. It is a step towards recognising that people with cancer diagnosis are not helpless; they can support each other, help themselves, and improve their quality of life.

Holistic approach

Increasingly, the holistic approach to cancer care is recognised as best practice. A person who is on the cancer journey is not just a body with a part in need of treatment but is a mind, body, soul and spirit, each in need of nurture. Complementary therapies are just that, complementing the treatments designed by the oncology team and are now offered in many cancer hospitals. Multiple pieces of research show that people who take part in a support group, and combine complementary therapies with the regular cancer therapies, have less stress, reduced anxiety, better control of pain and an enhanced quality of life.

Core group

The idea for a cancer care centre predictably originated from people touched by cancer. A core group consisting of people with an interest in complementary cancer care, as a social service, came together to bring the idea to fruition. The group consisted of: Teresa Ruane, Ann Cullinane, Dr Ann Brennan, Ann Waldron, Anne Scully, Paddy Coffey, Colm Fitzgerald, John Lenihan, Michael Crimmins, Peadar Monaghan, Dr Frances Conway-Lenihan, Margaret Lane and Nuala King. The idea was researched and it became crystal clear that we in Athenry should have access to the entire armoury that’s available to smooth the cancer journey.

Sharing and caring

Rooms were refurbished upstairs in the Social Service Centre. Care was taken to establish a space that is warm and inviting, restful and relaxing. That space is now a quiet haven for sharing and caring, and the Centre is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays with plans afoot to extend opening to a third day.

Services at the Centre

Drop-in centre for people who want a confidential chat, to unburden, in a safe and caring environment.
Relaxation therapies and strategies to reduce the harmful effects of stress are available by appointment. These therapies include Reiki healing, Aromatherapy, gentle Indian Head Massage with other therapies on the horizon. The focus is to strengthen the body through stress reduction. These are individual treatments by competent therapists.
Practical information in relation to cancer services
Professional counselling (this will be arranged for family members who request it)
Books are available to browse through or to borrow.

Support Group

The support group is for people who have had a cancer diagnosis. The aim of the support group meetings is to facilitate people on the cancer journey in sharing common feelings and problems. Each meeting has a strategy for stress reduction, through relaxation therapy, visualisation, prayer, colour, and art or music therapy. These meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month at 7.00 p.m., and are sociable, friendly meetings and the kettle is never off the boil.

Other Services

Cancer can place a big financial strain on families. Funding will be available, in particular, to assist young families.
Bereavement counselling will be arranged by appointment.
Since this is just the beginning, it is envisaged that other support services will be developed as needs become apparent.

Personnel at the Centre

As this is a voluntary service, volunteers are vital to the Centre. Twenty-four people have participated in a training programme conducted by The Institute of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Dun Laoghaire. This training, over two weekends, focussed on listening skills and confidentiality issues.

Oncology nurses provided initial training and guided volunteers through the main concerns of people confronted with cancer diagnosis.

Training will be on-going. Trained competent therapists provide all the therapies.

Thanks

The services are provided free of charge. They are financed through voluntary fundraising efforts and individual contributions. No idea can come to fruition without support and goodwill. To the many people who supported the idea of Athenry Cancer Care, through practical fundraising ventures, our prayer for you is that you will enjoy good health with peace of mind. With your help, the doors of Athenry Cancer Care Centre will be open when people are most in need of the light of hope.

Athenry Cancer Care, Social Service Centre, Athenry. Tel. No. 087 4128080

The new  Athenry Voluntary Cancer Care Centre, was blessed by Canon Tony King P.P., and officially opened by Tommy Gorman of RTE on Saturday, July 5th 2003.

A relaxing garden party in fine Summer weather with food and entertainment completed a memorable day.

“I’m sorry, you have cancer”

Without personal experience, it is impossible to understand the ferocity of that body-blow. Cancer has an image problem so a thousand questions, doubts and worries engulf the mind. The image of a one way street looms large. There and then, it is difficult to believe that most people cope very well with cancer, go on to live enriched lives and have new appreciation for the things in life that really

Support and healing

The Athenry Cancer Care Centre has only one agenda and that is quite simply to offer support and healing to people who have encountered any form of cancer and the people who support them. It is a step towards recognising that people with cancer diagnosis are not helpless; they can support each other, help themselves, and improve their quality of life.

Holistic approach

Increasingly, the holistic approach to cancer care is recognised as best practice. A person who is on the cancer journey is not just a body with a part in need of treatment but is a mind, body, soul and spirit, each in need of nurture.

Complementary therapies are just that, complementing the treatments designed by the oncology team and are now offered in many cancer hospitals. Multiple pieces of research show that people who take part in a support group, and combine complementary therapies with the regular cancer therapies, have less stress, reduced anxiety, better control of pain and an enhanced quality of life.

Core group

The idea for a cancer care centre predictably originated from people touched by cancer. A core group consisting of people with an interest in complementary cancer care, as a social service, came together to bring the idea to fruition. The group consisted of: Teresa Ruane, Ann Cullinane, Dr. Ann Brennan, Ann Waldron, Anne Scully, Paddy Coffey, Colm Fitzgerald, John Lenihan, Michael Crimmins, Peadar Monaghan, Dr Frances Conway-Lenihan, Margaret Lane and Nuala King. The idea was researched and it became crystal clear that we in Athenry should have access to the entire armoury that’s available to smooth the cancer journey.

Sharing and caring

Rooms were refurbished upstairs in the Social Service Centre. Care was taken to establish a space that is warm and inviting, restful and relaxing. That space is now a quiet haven for sharing and caring, and the Centre is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays with plans afoot to extend opening to a third day.

Services at the Centre

Drop-in centre for people who want a confidential chat, to unburden, in a safe and caring environment.
Relaxation therapies and strategies to reduce the harmful effects of stress are available by appointment. These therapies include Reiki healing, Aromatherapy, gentle Indian Head Massage with other therapies on the horizon. The focus is to strengthen the body through stress reduction. These are individual treatments by competent therapists
Practical information in relation to cancer services
Professional counselling this will be arranged for family members who request it)
Books are available to browse through or to borrow.

Support Group

The support group is for people who have had a cancer diagnosis. The aim of the support group meetings is to facilitate people on the cancer journey in sharing common feelings and problems. Each meeting has a strategy for stress reduction, through relaxation therapy, visualisation, prayer, colour, and art or music therapy. These meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month at 7.00 p.m., and are sociable, friendly meetings and the kettle is never off the boil.

Other Services

Cancer can place a big financial strain on families. Funding will be available, in particular, to assist young families.
Bereavement counselling will be arranged by appointment.
Since this is just the beginning, it is envisaged that other support services will be developed as needs become apparent.

Personnel at the Centre

As this is a voluntary service, volunteers are vital to the Centre. Twenty four people have participated in a training programme conducted by The Institute of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Dun Laoghaire. This training, over two weekends, focussed on listening skills and confidentiality issues. Oncology nurses provided initial training and guided volunteers through the main concerns of people confronted with cancer diagnosis. Training will be on-going. Trained competent therapists provide all the therapies.

Thanks

The services are provided free of charge. They are financed through voluntary fundraising efforts and individual contributions. No idea can come to fruition without support and goodwill. To the many people who supported the idea of Athenry Cancer Care, through practical fundraising ventures, our prayer for you is that you will enjoy good health with peace of mind.

With your help, the doors of Athenry Cancer Care Centre will be open when people are most in need of the light of hope.

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.

Athenry Cancer Care, Social Service Centre, Athenry, Tel. No. 087 4128080

This is the story of 100 women from Athenry and the surrounding area who walked, jogged or ran the Womens’ Mini-marathon in Dublin on the June bank holiday.

Although it’s the biggest women’s event in the world, that alone was not enough to draw this motley crew together. These women walked for one reason – to support Athenry Cancer Care.

From the comfort of your armchair, ten kilometres (6.2 miles) may not seem like much of a walk. May l remind you of that old Indian proverb, the essence of which is, don’t judge until you have walked a mile in my moccasins!

As word spread that Athenry Cancer Care needed women for the marathon, the response exceeded all expectation. Application forms were collected from the Evening Herald and dispatched with the entry fee. Pleas were made to accommodate late applications. Official registration was important, since on crossing the finishing line, medals (proof for the sceptics at home) would be presented only to those who were officially registered.

With two months to go, the Athenry Womens’ Group took the lead and set up a walking group. No by-way was safe! Others, like wayward students, took a more casual attitude, did the minimum of training, hoping ‘it will be alright on the day’ – and with a bit of luck it was!

Many opted to travel to Dublin in small groups. Some made it a week-end event while 55 set off by bus from Athenry in great glee. We all met up in the Shelbourne Hotel for refreshments, to exchange survival hints and to savour the atmosphere on St. Stephens Green before the starting time at 3.00p.m.

100 women with Athenry Cancer Care logo emblazoned across their tee shirts was a heartening sight. The 22 ladies from Carrabane who were part of our group had turned their shirts into designer creations with nips and tucks strategically placed.

Various lotions and potions were dispensed. Arnica and wintergreen were in plentiful supply. One – Mary – freely dispensed a brew that came with a guarantee of ache-free walking. Don’t know for sure what it was but there was some reference to good greyhounds! We wondered if it might be a banned substance? What if —- ?

The age profile of the gallant women was interesting – from early twenties to the seventieth year. The walking abilities and fitness levels were also diverse. The enthusiastic, well primed walkers headed out early to be near the starting post. They wanted to compete seriously.

Others of us who were less fit hung back and enjoyed the fun. Our mere ambition was to complete the course without being air-lifted to the nearest hospital. With our bird’s eye view from the first floor of the Shelbourne we enjoyed the hilarity of the street below.

We headed towards the start with full knowledge that there was no “Kenyan ability” in our group. It took us fifteen minutes to get past the starting post – we won’t mention how long it took to get to the finishing post – but we got there. The serious walkers in our Athenry group completed the course in little over an hour. l congratulate them – with a tinge of envy!

The atmosphere and tone on the day was invigorating. The organisers made every effort to keep the spirits up. Entertainers lined the route and spectators shouted words of encouragement as we jogged, walked or trundled along.

Men couldn’t possibly miss out on the chance to be with 40,000 women so they dressed up to get in on the action! Their outrageous attire was a spectacle. After the walk we headed to the bus to get out of town before the big rush. We stopped for food in Enfield, traded stories and unwound. We had the feeling of a job well done.

But back to the beginning. What was the job? The job was to fundraise for Athenry Cancer Care Centre. This Centre opened at Easter 2003 and provides a support service for people who are on a cancer journey. It offers a free, complementary, holistic service, based on mutual support, relaxation therapies, counselling, tea and chat. The focus is on self-help and quality of life. To run this service costs money, principally for the payment of therapists.

Conscious that there are many worthy causes we decided to make the mini-marathon our sole fundraising event for the year and we went for it! We got enormous support and €35,000 was raised. We were overwhelmed by the good-will towards us.

A million thanks to all who sponsored. We hope you will never need the service of our Centre but if you do, this service will support you. (June 6th 2005 – here we come!)

From all of us in the Centre, we wish you a joyful Christmas and a New Year of peace and good health.

Nuala King is a founder member of Athenry Cancer Care

Click on her name below for more of her articles!

The Irish Pilgrimage Trust is an organisation that brings children with special needs to Lourdes every Easter explains Nuala King

The Pilgrimage Trust, formed in 1972 by a Deed of Trust, to bring children with special needs to Lourdes. Special needs include physical illness or disability, learning difficulties and emotional trauma. This pilgrimage is just for young people and combines a holiday and pilgrimage experience. The Lourdes programme for the week is geared towards the needs of these special young people.

The pilgrimage is organised in groups of about 24 children and voluntary adult carers. Each group has a leader, a nurse and a chaplain. The needs of the young people in the group will determine the number of carers, usually between 10 and 12. Each group has a doctor on call at all times who is fully familiar with the medical needs of the children.

All carers, including nurses, chaplains and doctors pay their own fares. All fares and expenses of the young people are paid through voluntary fundraising. Groups stay in hotels to give a holiday environment because staying in a hospital is all too familiar to many of our young guests.

The Pilgrimage Trust is divided into seven regions, the western region covering Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and part of Clare. Over forty Irish groups, with a total of 500 children travel each Easter and join with similar groups from England and Scotland.

Spiritual journey

What is a pilgrimage? There are many valid answers. For the Trust, a pilgrimage is a journey in search of wholeness of mind, body and spirit, allowing the footsteps of St. Bernadette to Our Lady of Lourdes.

Exclusion is a real concern for people with disability. Conversations with children in Lourdes over many years clearly indicated that, because of their special needs, they generally felt excluded from summer camps and other holiday activities that were readily available for their brothers and sisters.

The western region organised summer holiday camps called friendship weeks” to renew old friendships and give parents some respite from the constant demands of caring. Finding suitable accommodation was always difficult and a search went on for years to find a “home of our own”.

Holiday home

In 1998 that “home of our own” became a reality when the Trust opened a holiday house and respite centre – Kilcuan, in Clarinbridge. The 30-bed house was specially designed to provide facilities for people with special needs. It was built through voluntary fundraising, on a site kindly donated by the Brothers of Charity.

The name Kilcuan reflects the ancient Irish word for church – Cill and also reflects the wooded setting. Cuan is a harbour or safe haven. Kilcuan is a place of peace and tranquillity, a haven of rest, where all are encouraged to contribute according to their abilities and receive according to their needs.

If the services of Kilcuan or a Lourdes pilgrimage is of interest to anyone you know, please contact Kilcuan at 091 796330.

Thanks

The Pilgrimage Trust has many voluntary carers from the Athenry area, all very appreciative of the extraordinary generosity of some people in our midst to the Trust and Kilcuan.

Nuala King works for Teagasc and has just completed 4 years as Regional Chairperson of IHCPT Western Region.

The Second World War is history but it is recent enough for stories to be passed on directly by people who lived through those years. Athenry has its own stories. The plane crash near Mellows Agricultural College on January 15th. 1943 is one that is remembered well and fuels some interesting questions.

This crash is documented in the Military Archives of Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin.

Forced Landing

On Friday 17th January 1943, an American Flying Fortress, Service Marking l9045 circled Athenry for over an hour before making a forced landing at midday in the grounds of the Agricultural College, one and a half miles from the town.

The plane, a converted, decommissioned bomber, was bound for Portreath, Cornwall, England having set out from Gibraltar. Americans had nicknames for their planes. This Flying Fortress was called “Stinky”.

Mission

The stated mission of the flight was to take passengers and mail from Gibraltar to Portreath. These passengers were a military party sent from the U.S.A. to report on battle fronts in the Far, Middle and Near East and included Lieutenant General Jacob Devers, Chief of the U.S Army Ground Forces. This was immediately prior to the invasion of North Africa and plans were still secret. While there were “a lot of letters” on the plane there was also “a sealed mail bag” believed to contain war plans for the invasion of Africa.

Cause of the Crash

The flight path was meant to be west of the Bay of Biscay to avoid possible interception by German fighters and then northwards to Portreath. The weather deteriorated with heavy cloud and that, along with faulty navigation and wireless trouble caused the pilot to fly a course too far west to the Irish coast. The pilot was completely lost and believed he was flying over Scotland. The plane was first spotted by Irish coast watching service just after 10 o’clock. It came in over Ireland on the Kerry coast and continued northwards, the crew totally unaware that Rineanna (now Shannon airport) was accessible. The navigation error combined with a shortage of fuel (less than 200 gallons in fuel tanks) caused the pilot to circle Athenry in search of suitable landing space. To put things in perspective for today, the plane came from the direction of the New Cemetery across the Department of Agriculture lands in Newford (now Teagasc lands) sweeping low and landing in the field on the Oranmore side of the Teagasc Rural Development Centre.

Mrs Detta Dobbyn, who then lived near the Agricultural College and now lives in Moanbaun, clearly recalls that day. She was in her garden, at the clothes line, when the descending plane came so low that it swept the line from her hand before crash-landing seconds later about four hundred yards away. (No wonder that fifty-nine years later Detta still looks up with some trepidation as planes fly by!)

Landing

The official report states that the “aircraft landed with undercarriage down. From the wheel marks it would appear that as soon as the brakes were applied the wheels locked and the machine skidded forward on the wet surface of the field. It then crashed through a loose stone wall and as a result the undercarriage was torn off.

After striking the wall the machine skidded forward on its belly for a distance of about thirty yards. The wheels were swept off; the undercarriage, propellers and wings were damaged”.

All crew and passengers emerged unhurt from the wreckage. The official report states “a close examination of the plane on the ground revealed two bullet holes, some empty ammo shells and a note in the plane apparently decoded which read ‘Enemy Action’. This would seem to indicate a brush with the enemy on route”.

Irish Response

Army Personnel, from Renmore 1st Batallion under Commanding Officer Major Jjames Timoney took charge of the crash scene. The passengers and crew were brought by Major Timoney to the Railway Hotel, Athenry for lunch, tea and a rest. This hotel is now VEC property known as Hotel Training School). That evening orders were received from Mr. Frederick H. Boland, Assistant Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs that transport arrangements were to be made to transfer the sixteen aircraft personnel to Northern Ireland. Commandant Power, Western Command accompanied the men to Belleek. He reported “l handed over the party at 02.00 hours on l6th January at R.U. C. Barracks, Belleek. Owing to the very large party and the amount of baggage a separate luggage truck had to be provided. Our cars crossed the border and the transfer was affected in the R.U.C. Barrack Yard. Three officers from Lurgan headquarters of the American forces welcomed the visitors and provided coffee and stimulants.

General Devers conveyed the most sincere thanks of the U.S. army for the hospitality and for the privilege of being allowed to telephone Mr. David Gray. US Minister. (After the war, Mr. R. H. Boland, then Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, while on State business to the U.S. was introduced to General Devers. A press report from Washington stated “General Devers was elated to meet Mr. Boland and to have the opportunity of again expressing his gratitude for kind treatment in Ireland.)

The Wreckage

The aircraft was dismantled but because of the lack of proper equipment for dismantling it was a long and difficult job for the Air Corps recovery crew. It was sent back to the US Army Airforce in Northern Ireland and subsequently scrapped.

It was one of the older models and had been withdrawn from operational service and used as a transport aircraft.

Site Visit

Kitty Lardner, Church Street, Athenry relates that the landing was greeted with huge interest and speculation. Droves of people went out to see the wreckage, gather souvenirs and generally take part in the party atmosphere that ensued when it was established that everyone was safe.

The crew distributed the fruit from the aircraft and it was the first opportunity since the war began to sample bananas and oranges.

Kitty recalls with some amusement, that the Americans were utterly fascinated by the local people using donkeys and carts for travel.

Military Archives

Staff at the Military Archives, to whom l am indebted for their kind assistance, indicate that their greatest number of queries relate to plane crashes, of which there were many. The Archive staff has huge interest in the crash at Athenry on 15/01/43.

They would like to add to the body of information that exists through photographs of the site or photographs of souvenirs or memorabilia that may have been collected. As the 60th anniversary approaches, any further information or personal recollections would be much appreciated so that the story is complete and available to anyone who is interested.

Nuala King works for Teagasc and volunteers in many social and community activities in Athenry.

See also – Flying Fortress Athenry 1943 by Paul Browne and A flying Visit by Paul Browne

Teagasc Rural Economy Research Centre Building, Athenry, Galway

The premier Teagasc event for 1998 was hosted in Athenry on June 12th 1998 at Mellows Agricultural College Farm. It was a showcase event for farmers, part-time farmers and other rural dwellers.

The event attracted over 20,000 people from all corners of the country.

The title of the event Tomorrow’s Farm & Rural Enterprise clearly implied that the purpose was to help people to confront the challenges facing them over the next decade. While farming is the backbone of rural areas there is an increasing awareness that income from other sources is essential to maintain living standards and ultimately rural viability. The number of full-time farmers has declined from 200,000 in l966 to approximately 105,000 in 1997.

The Rural Enterprise Exhibition focused on farmers and rural people who need something in addition to mainstream farm enterprises to achieve viability.

Broadly, the choices were:

Increase efficiency
Develop a supplementary farm
Establish an enterprise in the tourism,
Food, craft or small manufacturing
Get part-time off-farm employment

It was possible to explore each and every one of those options on the day.

The exhibition had over 200 rural businesses on display as well as community groups and development agencies who assist people in various aspects of business planning and funding. Separate pavilions were devoted to Women in Business; Rural Tourism & Community Development; Crafts & Small Business, Farmhouse and Cottage Foods, Farm Forestry, Supplementary Farm Enterprises, Work Opportunities in Industry and the Business of Ecology.

The State assisted development and training Organisations such as County Enterprise Boards, LEADER, Partnership Boards, FÁS, The National Universities of Ireland — Galway, Cork and Dublin and Institutes of Technology had stand space for consultations and advice.

The Farm Exhibition had farming in all its diversity on show with emphasis on drawing together the indicators for future development, progress and prosperity in tandem with protecting the environment.
The College Farm of 650 acres, divided between research and training was used to full effect. Teagasc Advisers, Teachers and Specialist Staff were available to discuss management and financial aspects of the Dairy Unit, Mixed Grazing Farm, Sheep Farm, REPS Farm, Poultry Unit and Pig Unit.
New EU Proposals and their likely impact at farm level were grappled with.
Demonstrations and work-shops were on-going throughout the day. These included demonstrations on machinery, equipment, hedgerow management, habitat protection and work-shops on REPS.

The Department of Agriculture and Food had staff available to answer queries on premium/headage payments and to provide information on grass, cereal and root crop trials.

Major Co-ops, Associations, Financial Institutions, State Agencies and Third Level Educational Institutes had Information and Advice Services.
The conference programme addressed two issues:

Farming 2000 and Beyond
Food Safety-—- Implications for Farmers

Guest Speakers included: Dr Patrick Wall, Chief Executive, Food Safety Authority; Mr. John Malone, Secretary General, Dept. of Agriculture & Food; Mr. Matt Dempsey, Editor & Chief Executive, Irish Farmers Journal.

Tomorrow’s Farm & Rural Enterprise was evaluated independently by The Social Sciences Research Centre of the National University of Ireland, Galway. 90% of those surveyed found the event helpful and highly beneficial. If you missed this year’s event in Athenry don’t worry! A book describing each of the exhibitors and help agencies in the Rural Enterprise section is available. A major Teagasc Rural Enterprise and Farming Exhibition “is on the cards” for Clonakilty, Co. Cork next year and Kildalton, Co. Kilkenny in the milestone year 2,000. Go mbeirimid beo!

Nuala King, Teagasc, Rural Development Centre, Athenry.

There are few families in the Athenry area who have not had some contact with the happenings in the Teagasc complex over the last ninety years. OK — the name Teagasc is a very recent tag, bringing together agricultural education, research and advice for rural communities.

Since 1905 when the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction established an agricultural station here, with a farm and school, the place has been colloquially known as ‘The Department’ (no frills), ‘The College’ or ‘The Farmyard’.
Each of these is descriptive but none gives the complete picture. It is a combination of all of these — and more.

Reason for a State Agricultural School and Farm

It is difficult for us to have any real understanding of the poverty in rural Ireland at the end of the last century and well into this one. Virtually all the land was owned by a small number of landlords but worked by a multitude of small tenant farmers. When Horace Plunkett set the machinery of The Department of Agriculture in motion in 1900 his stated goal was ‘better farming, better business, better living’.

Towards this end the department set up an agricultural station in each of the four provinces. Progress was impossible without improved knowledge and skills. Improved seeds and stock were also required and these were propagated on these farms.

The Athenry farm of 640 acres was part of the Goodbody estate of 2,000 acres. The rest of the estate was divided amongst people by The Congested District Board.

The college was established in 1905 and was administered by the Department of Agriculture until 1980 when Chomhairle Oiliúna Talmhaíochta (ACOT) was formed.

This State-sponsored organisation became responsible for agricultural education and advice.
Five years later ACOT was superseded by TEAGASC, a state-sponsored body with responsibility for agricultural research in addition to education and advice.

The Teagasc Complex 1995 Teagasc Athenry has several linked areas of operation: The Farm; The Agricultural College; Agricultural Advisory Services for County Galway; Specialist Advisory Service; Sheep Research; Rural Development Headquarters; Department of Agriculture; Food & Forestry Trials.

The Agricultural College and Farm The farm consists of 640 acres of which 600 approximately are usable with 30 acres, of woodlands. Individual farm units are devoted to dairying, cattle production, sheep production and research and tillage crops. The farm has an intensive pig unit and a poultry unit.

The Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry conduct trials on cereals, potatoes, roots and grasses.
The college has been providing training courses for young farmers since 1905. In 1966 the new college building was officially opened. Because the college was occupied by the Irish Volunteers under the command of Liam Mellowes during the rising in 1916, the college was named Mellowes Agricultural College in commemoration of that historic event.

Courses

Mellowes Agricultural College provides a residential one year course in General Agriculture for fifty five students each year. Students are educated and trained in the general knowledge and scientific principles of modem farming. Practical ‘hands on’ training is combined with classroom work.
This course is designed for young entrants to farming.

The college provides a Pig Production Training Course. This is a specialised two year course for people who wish to follow careers in the commercial pig industry.

The Poultry Production Training Course is a two year specialised course for those who wish to follow careers in the commercial poultry industry.

The college also conducts a number of short Block Release courses for Farm Apprenticeship Board trainees and for young farmers who cannot avail of the residential courses in general agriculture. These short courses take place in the summer months when the main corps of students have completed their residential courses.

The Rural Development Centre The County Galway Headquarters for the Agricultural Advisory Services is at Athenry in the refurbished original college building, now named by its colour ‘The White House’.

Farmers in the county who are seeking any of the advisory services can make contact  there.

The Rural Development Centre

The brown brick building on the Galway side of Mellowes College is The Rural Development Centre. This is a conference centre with office accommodation. Local, regional and national events are hosted there. The Rural Development Team work from this building providing specialist back-up to Rural Enterprise Advisers around the country. Rural development through enterprise is a key sector of the Teagasc programme.

Declining rural populations and low farm incomes make it imperative to focus seriously on rural enterprise and ‘alternative’ farm enterprises.
This building also accommodates a small number of specialist advisers who provide support, up-dating and in-service training for the general advisory service.

Research

Teagasc has responsibility for agricultural research. Sheep research is conducted at Athenry with specialised researchers working on various aspects of sheep production.
The results are brought to sheep farmers on an on-going basis.

The Teagasc complex is indeed ‘complex’ with a wide variety of activities and functions. Eighty people are employed. This total includes farm staff, office staff, teachers, domestic staff, agricultural advisers, researchers, Department of Agriculture staff and the Rural Development specialist Team. Teagasc is and has been the largest employer in the area for almost ninety years. Most of the staff live in the Athenry area.

If, for any reason, you have never set foot in the complex and would like to, you will gladly be facilitated, by arrangement.

It is incumbent on all of us to treat with the utmost respect that national resource that is Teagasc/Mellowes College. It is not ours but rather a part of the heritage of future generations.