Connemara West launched its ambitious International Residential Education Centre at a briefing in the Meyrick Hotel, Galway today. The Centre, in the village of Tullycross, County Galway will consist of  a state-of-art newly built education hub with a 50 seat auditorium; a wifi-enabled library; group study/breakout rooms; video conferencing facilities; meeting rooms; a conference room; community meeting rooms and a coffee dock. The accommodation part of the Centre will be made up of the renovated iconic 9 thatched cottages in Tullycross village, Connemara West’s first project in 1973, and will hold up to 40 students and faculty.

In a real coup, the Centre will also be the base for one of the largest Irish studies minor programmes in the United States; a programme run by Aquinas College, Michigan. In addition, up to 6 other colleges from the states of Maine, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and New Hampshire are basing their study abroad programmes in Tullycross.

Established in 1971 on foot of a local fundraising drive, Connemara West is a locallymanaged community development organisation based in Letterfrack, Co. Galway which employs 28 people. Owned by 500 local shareholders, Connemara West over the past half century has consistently established pioneering projects in their time such as Connemara Community Radio, FORUM Connemara, The Furniture College (an educational partnership with GMIT) and Conservation|Letterfrack, which conserves and restores wooden artefacts.

“We are building on this legacy of innovative, creative projects with this new strategy based around education-led tourism” said Dr. Kevin Heanue, Chairman of Connemara West. “Six years ago, underpinned by extensive market research, we began to develop this strategy based on education, heritage, the diaspora in the United States and niche tourism. We worked closely with our partner in the United States, Aquinas College, which has brought students to Tullycross for a 4 month long study abroad programme each year for the past 44 years. They helped us identify additional colleges offering independent study abroad programmes we could invite to base their global learning programmes in Tullycross”.

Professor Deborah Wickering from Aquinas College who is Director of the 2017 Ireland Programme said “Aquinas College and Connemara West have an amazing partnership for over 40 years and it is exciting that over 1,000 of our students and faculty have come and lived in Tullycross, to learn about Irish culture, heritage and society. It is a natural fit that we should base our Irish Studies minor programme here”.

Pictured above: Dr. Kevin Heanue, Chairman of Connemara West, Eamon O Cuiv TD and Deborah Wickering Director, Aquinas College