The year 1967 saw a great change in Galway as the industrial estate was being developed as a result of the Government’s decision to designate Galway as a development location, a place which would be the commercial, financial, educational, health, social, and administrative centre of the region. The IDA was buying land and building factories in anticipation of attracting industry to the county. It is a measure of its success that within two years, on Monday November 10, 1969, ANCO (An Comhairle Oiliúna ) opened a new training centre on the estate.
The centre was staffed by 20 qualified instructors and it held about £90,000 worth of equipment, including all the most up-to-date teaching aids of the time, and so the concept of industrial training was introduced to the west for the first time. Two hundred trainees were selected from 500 applications and they were instructed in skills such as welding, machine tool operating, mechanical and electrical assembly work, and radio and television servicing. These courses were designed to meet known shortages so that trainees could find immediate employment after an intensive course which could last from 15 to 26 weeks, or four weeks in a preliminary basic course.
They were gradually introduced to an industrial environment as factory conditions were simulated. The syllabus was supplemented by talks on safety, civic responsibility, industrial hygiene, industrial relations, and the trade unions.
Jim Fahy, writing in the Tuam Herald, described it as follows: “The training centre, the largest in the Republic, is certainly one of the Government’s biggest God-sends to the West with its capacity to turn out up to 300 trained and partly trained technicians a year.”
ANCO amalgamated with National Manpower Services and the Youth Employment Agency to become FÁS in 1988, and in 2013, FÁS became SOLAS. In 2014 SOLAS merged with Galway VEC to become GRETB, Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board. So GRETB/FÁS/ANCO is having a 50th anniversary celebration at the training centre on September 9. The team are gathering information and photographs for an exhibition so if you have any material that might be of interest, please call 091 706 218.
Our photograph shows members of staff at the centre receiving their 10-year service awards c1980. Seated are Brendan Burke, Seán Higgins, Austin Lydon, Helen Clarke, Maurice O’Sullivan, manager, Kathleen Keane, Peter Donnellan, Brendan Higgins, and Martin O’Sullivan. Standing are Michael Howe, Michael McDonagh, Jim Cleary, Ray Kelly, John Mahony, Paddy Williams, Michael Clerkin, Dermot Kenny, John White, Jim Daly, Pat Bergin, Pat Lynch, and Leo Hennessy