Atlantic Technological University marks 50 years since first students entered RTC Galway

Attendees at the flag-raising ceremony. Front row, (l-r): Dr Debra Lattanzi Shutika, Fulbright Scholar to Ireland; Jo Corr; Cáit Noone, head of Galway International Hotel School and vice president international engagement; Sarah Mohan, VP for welfare, Students’ Union, ATU Galway-Mayo; Colin Kearney, Students’ Union president, ATU Galway-Mayo; Dr Orla Flynn, president, ATU; Dr Gay Corr, first principal of RTC Galway; Marion Coy, past president of GMIT; Mayor of the City of Galway, Cllr Clodagh Higgins; Cllr Michael (Moegie) Maher, Cathaoirleach of the County of Galway; Dr Mark McCarthy, chair of the Golden Jubilee 1972-2022 Commemoration Committee; and Dermot Nolan, president, Galway Chamber. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

Attendees at the flag-raising ceremony. Front row, (l-r): Dr Debra Lattanzi Shutika, Fulbright Scholar to Ireland; Jo Corr; Cáit Noone, head of Galway International Hotel School and vice president international engagement; Sarah Mohan, VP for welfare, Students’ Union, ATU Galway-Mayo; Colin Kearney, Students’ Union president, ATU Galway-Mayo; Dr Orla Flynn, president, ATU; Dr Gay Corr, first principal of RTC Galway; Marion Coy, past president of GMIT; Mayor of the City of Galway, Cllr Clodagh Higgins; Cllr Michael (Moegie) Maher, Cathaoirleach of the County of Galway; Dr Mark McCarthy, chair of the Golden Jubilee 1972-2022 Commemoration Committee; and Dermot Nolan, president, Galway Chamber. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

A special ceremony took place at Atlantic Technological University’s Galway City campus this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the entry of the first cohort of students to the then RTC Galway on September 18, 1972, The event, attended by the Mayor of the City of Galway, Cllr Clodagh Higgins, Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, Cllr Michael Maher, and invited guests, marks the beginning of a programme of events at ATU to celebrate its golden jubilee.

The day’s event commenced with a lunchtime lecture by former GMIT registrar Bernard O’Hara on Regional Technical College Galway/Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology: A History in the Context of Public Policy, chaired by current registrar and head of college Dr Michael Hannon.

Invited guests, staff, retired staff, students, and graduates later attended the official opening reception in Room 1000, with speakers including Dr Mark McCarthy, chair of the Golden Jubilee 1972–2022 Commemoration Committee; Mayor of the City of Galway, Cllr Clodagh Higgins; Dr Orla Flynn, president, Atlantic Technological University; Cllr Michael (Moegie ) Maher, Cathaoirleach of the County of Galway; Colin Kearney, Students’ Union president, ATU Galway-Mayo; Áine Hickey, RTC Galway class of 1972; Brendan Holland, RTC Galway class of 1972; and past president of GMIT Marion Coy.

The official opening also featured a rendition of ‘Galway Bay’ by Dr John Tunney and the debut of a cover of Bill Withers’ ‘Lean on Me’ (1972 ) by the college’s virtual choir. Afterwards, Dr Gay Corr, who was appointed as the first principal of RTC Galway in 1972, took part in a flag-raising ceremony at the southern entrance with Dr Flynn and Mr Kearney. This was followed by a reception featuring a special commemorative cake baked by Ann Flanagan from the Galway International Hotel School.

The jubilee celebrations at ATU will continue into 2023, with a range of events add projects exploring the history of the college, its long contribution to education in Galway and the west of Ireland, and its future as a technological university.

From humble beginnings in 1972, RTC Galway expanded its presence in the region in the 1980s and 1990s by offering courses in Mountbellew, Letterfrack, Castlebar, and Cluain Mhuire. In January 1998, the college’s name changed to Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. On April 1 this year, GMIT amalgamated with IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT to become Atlantic Technological University.

The Golden Jubilee 1972–2022 Commemoration committee is chaired by Dr Mark McCarthy, senior lecturer and programme chair in heritage studies. “As we contemplate why memory of 1972 and the years that followed matters, it is important to reflect on the power of heritage to comprehend the present and shape the future,” Dr McCarthy said. “As we reimagine our future as part of ATU, it is only fitting that we also embark at this liminal moment on a journey of remembrance and reflection on the last 50 years of technological higher education.”

The Golden Jubilee commemoration is centred around five programme strands, namely: ceremonial; public history and heritage; cultural and technological innovation; alumni and community engagement; and sustainable futures.

One of the highlights in the year ahead will be an exhibition above Union Square in ATU Galway City, Dublin Road, entitled Celebrating Fifty Years of Technological Higher Education in the West of Ireland, 1972–2022. This will run until June 20 2023. A travelling version of this exhibition is on display at Galway City Museum until October 8 2022.

Another highlight will be a monthly series called LEGACY: A Golden Jubilee Fireside Celebration, to be hosted by each of the schools in the college. The first of these, which features Supermac’s founder and owner Pat McDonagh as a guest speaker, will be hosted by the School of Business in Room 903, ATU Galway City, Dublin Road, at 4pm on Tuesday October 4.

“Reflecting back on the values and attributes of the then Galway RTC, we can see how valuable was the role played by the institution over the last 50 years,” Dr Orla Flynn, president of ATU, said this week. “Providing access to higher education was transformative for students across the region, and for society as a whole. Long may we continue to live up to the achievements of the last half century, in our new capacity as Atlantic Technological University.”

Colin Kearney, president of ATU Students’ Union Galway-Mayo, added: “As we venture into our future in a technological university, it is equally important to look back over the last 50 years to 1972. The most important thing I can pick out from then until now, and even into the future, is the quality, dedication, and commitment of our student body. I am proud to say I am a member of this community of people who, without fail, amaze me at every opportunity.”

For more information on the Golden Jubilee programme visit www.gmit.ie/50

 

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