Selling Piscatorial School 'would be an obscenity' says Connolly

TD calls on Dominican Order to withdraw historic building from the open market

The Piscatorial School in the Claddagh, photographed in 1903.

The Piscatorial School in the Claddagh, photographed in 1903.

The Piscatorial School in the Claddagh, should not be sold to the highest bidder for commercial purposes, but instead should be kept in public ownership.

This is the view of the Independent Galway West TD Catherine Connolly, who has written to the Prior Provincial of the Dominican Order, asking the order, which owns the building, to reconsider its decision to place the building on the open market.

"In a year where Galway has just been awarded the European Capital of Culture 2020, it would be an obscenity for this wonderful building to be sold off to the highest bidder given its history, its heritage and its importance," said Dep Connolly. "It is essential the Dominican Order reconsider its decision."

The school - which is now a listed building - was founded by the Dominican Order in 1846, during the Famine, to educate the children in The Claddagh. Boys were taught how to make and repair nets, while girls were taught to sew and spin. Both boys and girls were taught to read and write. It subsequently functioned as a primary school, and in more recent times it housed the Social Welfare Offices, and subsequently Youthreach.

Given this history, Dep Connolly said there is a "golden opportunity" for the building to retain its educational and vocational ethos.

"There is a not-for-profit organisation group more than interested in acquiring the building with a view to making it a social and innovative hub, in partnership with the community, and with other possibilities including the Western Development Commission, the Credit Unions etc," said Dep Connolly.

"A little time is needed, however, and such a project could not be pursued in a bidding war. In my opinion, the sale should not proceed in such a manner given the significance of the building. It should be kept in public ownership."

Dep Connolly has called on the order to engage with the community and the not-for-profit organisation. She also said the school has "ample space for the development of a maritime museum".

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