Plans to move St Joseph’s College, The Bish, to a new site were back before the Galway City Council this week following a proposal seeking to designate lands in Dangan, owned by NUI Galway, for the development of a secondary school. The proposal has been included in the draft Galway City Development Plan 2017-2023, which councillors met to discuss on Monday.
Councillors voted against rezoning the lands by a narrow majority when the proposal last came before the council 10 years ago, though the Bish site on Nuns’ Island was rezoned for residential use under the current development plan.
The latest proposal received broad support from councillors — several of whom had attended the Bish or had family links with the school — though Cllr Catherine Connolly raised concerns about the lack of prior consultation on the proposal, and Cllr Padraig Conneely abstained from voting when the proposal was put to the councillors for inclusion in the draft plan.
Cllr Declan McDonnell, who proposed the change, said three generations of his family had attended the Bish, which was built to house just over 400 students and now had more than 800.
Mayor of Galway Frank Fahy pointed to the benefits that other schools, such as such as Coláiste na Coiribe and Coláiste Mhuirlinne, had had from moving to new sites. The Mayor said it would be unfair to deny the Bish the same opportunity to develop. “Seeing how many councillors went to the Bish is testament to the quality of the education that the Bish has provided,” he added.
Councillors ultimately voted to include the proposal in the draft plan, seeking to rezone a 1.6hA site between the hockey pitch in Dangan and the N59 for community, cultural, and institutional use, specifically to accommodate the development of a secondary school.
The draft Galway City Development Plan 2017 to 2023 will go on public display in the New Year, and the public will have until mid-March to make submissions on the draft plan.