NUI Galway and BioResearch Ireland contribute to new publication on Diagnostics

NUI Galway and BioResearch Ireland contribute to new publication on Diagnostics-image

Thursday, 18 January 2001

Release date: 18 January, 2001 NUI Galway and BioResearch Ireland contribute to new publication on Diagnostics A new textbook entitled Immunoassays: A Practical Approach, published by Oxford University Press and edited by Professor Jim Gosling, Department of Biochemistry, NUI Galway, was launched in the University today (18 January). Immunoassays are (indirectly) mentioned in the news nearly every day. Headlines such as Older cattle must be tested for BSE before their meat can be consumed ; The number of people infected with HIV is rising: Women given anti-D will be tested for hepatitis-C , are commonplace. All these tests are immunoassays and they involve the use of specific antibodies to detect the proteins being measured. Pregnancy tests and a huge variety of tests used in hospital laboratories to detect heart attacks, to monitor cancer treatments and to diagnose disease, are also immunoassays. NUI Galway and the National Diagnostic Centre of Bioresearch Ireland, have been leaders in the development and application of immunoassays for the last 25 years. The publication of this book, which has many chapters authored or co-authored by staff from the NDC, is an important milestone. Galway contributors include Dr. Marian Kane, Mr Tony Forde, Mr Peter O'Fegan and Dr. Wajdi Abdul-Ahad. Immunoassays is the first practical manual designed to help any biologist develop an immunoassay in any common format for any suitable analyte. It is highly recommended both for researchers new to immunoassays and those who are seeking an updated source guide. The mix of background information, step by step protocols, and strong practical advice for achieving success, will prove invaluable to any life scientist who chooses to use immunoassays in either a research environment or for routine testing. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418

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NUI Galway scientist honoured for his work in Atmospheric Science

NUI Galway scientist honoured for his work in Atmospheric Science-image

Tuesday, 9 January 2001

Release date: 9 January, 2001 NUI Galway scientist honoured for his work in Atmospheric Science Professor S. Gerard Jennings was conferred recently with the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorate) by the University of G" teborg, Sweden. This honorary degree was awarded in recognition of the world-recognised research achievements of Professor Jennings in the field of Atmospheric Science, which embraces aerosol and cloud physics; and climate and environmental change. At the ceremony, an honorary degree was also conferred on Dr. Arvid Carlsson, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2000. Professor S. Gerard Jennings directs the Atmospheric Research Group, in the Department of Physics at NUI, Galway. He, in collaboration with departmental colleagues has been instrumental in establishing and operating the world renowned Atmospheric Research Station at Mace Head, near Carna, Co. Galway. The station s location on the west coast provides an ideal platform for the study of properties of atmospheric aerosol particles. It is now recognised that aerosols (microscopic airborne particles) can give rise to cooling and thus counteract warming of the earth's surface due to increasing concentration of greenhouse gases. Aerosol particles vary considerably, both spatially and temporally and in the context of understanding changes in climate, the study of aerosol particles is assuming new and critical importance. Professor Jennings is also involved in research with the recently-established Environmental Change Institute at NUI, Galway. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418

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February 2001

NUI Galway Scientists Investigate the Problem of Premature Births

NUI Galway Scientists Investigate the Problem of Premature Births-image

Tuesday, 27 February 2001

Release date: 27 February, 2001 NUI Galway Scientists Investigate the Problem of Premature Births Approximately 5-10% of all babies born in Ireland are pre-term deliveries and in the Galway area the exact incidence is 6-7%, according to work published by the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at NUI, Galway. Premature babies require long periods of hospitalisation in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and experience problems in relation to ventilation, infection, nutrition and overall development. It is known that these babies suffer high incidence of complications in childhood including chest complications, hearing and visual defects, developmental delay and cerebral palsy. Professor John Morrison at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, NUI, Galway together with Dr. Terry Smith of the National Diagnostics Centre, NUI, Galway have initiated and set up novel research with the aims of primarily outlining causes of premature labour at the gene expression level, and secondly developing new methods of treatment for pre-term labour. This research has identified novel genes, which are switched on and apparently up-regulated at the time of human labour. Further evaluation of this gene expression will help to explain the cascade of events that lead to women going into labour early. In addition, this research has demonstrated that compounds related to this gene expression may be used in the treatment of pre-term labour. This research, which is unique in Ireland, involves taking a minute biopsy from the muscle of the womb (called the myometrium) at Caesarean section, which is a strictly regulated procedure that is approved by the Ethics Committee at University College Hospital Galway. Tissue collection takes place in the hospital and the molecular and physiological research is carried out in the Clinical Science Institute (NUI, Galway Medical School) and in the National Diagnostic Centre on campus. This research is being funded by the HEA, the Health Research Board and the NUI, Galway Millennium Research Fund. Professor John Morrison is available for interview on this subject. ENDS Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel: 091-750418

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New Registrar appointed in NUI Galway

New Registrar appointed in NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 21 February 2001

Release date: 21 February, 2001 New Registrar appointed in NUI Galway Professor Jim Browne has been appointed Registrar of NUI, Galway. A former Dean of Engineering and Director of CIMRU (Computer Integrated Manufacturing Research Unit), Professor Browne commences his four-year term of office at a time of rapid growth and development in NUI, Galway. New buildings, which have come on stream as part of a £45m capital development plan, have greatly improved facilities for the university s students, now numbering more than 11,000. One of Professor Browne s priorities is the implementation of improved policies and strategies to encourage excellence in teaching and research. "With the rapid developments in tele-computing and multimedia, new flexible learning models are now possible and desirable", says Professor Browne. " A well-resourced university- wide initiative to develop ICT (Information and Communications Technology) enabled teaching and learning for all students, will facilitate part-time and mature students in particular." The traditional role of a university is to advance knowledge through research and scholarship. In recent years however, its role in providing skilled graduates for a knowledge-based economy has also been emphasised. Pressing social and community objectives, such as the provision of systems to accommodate second chance education and mature students must also be met. "Against this background of change and growth", says Professor Browne "the Registrar must provide academic leadership to the academic community and ensure the primacy of the academic mission in the life of NUI, Galway." Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer Tel. 091 750418

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How bad is the air we breathe?

How bad is the air we breathe?-image

Monday, 19 February 2001

Release date: 19 February, 2001 How bad is the air we breathe? New Environmental Study to investigate latest levels The dramatic increase in the volume of traffic, regularly causing gridlock on our city streets, is not simply a cause of frustration but also a health hazard. There are other air pollutants however, and although traffic is an important source, its contribution to air pollution levels is not yet quantified for Irish cities. A major three-year survey headed by Professor Gerard Jennings of the Air Quality Technology Centre, Department of Experimental Physics at NUI, Galway will investigate the impact of various factors, including transport on air quality. The project, funded to amount £411,000, is part of the Environmental Research Programme 2000-2006 of the National Development Plan, which is beingimplemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "The main objective of the research will be to determine the principal sources of particulate matter (PM) emitted to urban air, by obtaining the chemical composition of the air pollution particles", says Professor Jennings. Primary sources such as road traffic and industry and secondary sources, resulting from chemical reaction of vehicle exhaust gases, will be identified. Urban pollution also comes from rural sources. "Air pollution knows no boundaries," warns Professor Jennings, "so it is important to obtain the contribution of trans-boundary air pollution to urban levels." "Time is running out for us to put our house in order in this regard," says Professor Jennings. "Compliance must to be reached by 2005 with stringent air quality standards for aerosol particulate levels, laid down by the European Union. These standards are measured in terms of mass concentration of particles smaller than 10 micrometres in diameter, so called PM10 Five sampling sites will be used in the Study, with two sampling locations in Dublin City (College Street and the Civic Offices, Dublin Corporation) and one in Cork City. A rural site in County Galway (near Ballinasloe) and a coastal site on the east coast will also be used. It is hoped to identify areas vulnerable to exceedances of PM limits and to understand the causes of these exceedances and their potential impact on air quality and health- related issues. Where exceedances do occur, it will be necessary to introduce measures in order to reduce emissions of PM10 substances, so as to secure compliance limits set by the European Union. Professor Jennings has already carried out a ground-breaking study in partnership with Dublin Corporation and TMS Environment Ltd., at six Dublin City sites over a thirteen-month period from January 1996 to January 1997. He says that, "the role of pollutant aerosol particles takes on extra significance because of the linkage of PM10 and PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 micrometres in size) with human health. A strong association has been found between morbidity rates and increased PM levels, as shown for example by several studies in US cities". A consortium of partners, co-ordinated by Prof. S. Gerard Jennings, will participate in this new Study. They include: University of Birmingham, Division of Environmental Health (Prof. R.M. Harrison, Dr. A.G. Allen); Dublin Corporation - Atmospheric Pollution and Environment Unit (Ms Evelyn Wright), and University College Cork, Department of Chemistry (Prof. John Sodeau, Dr.John Wenger), in collaboration with Cork Corporation (Edmond Barry). Professor Jennings is available for interview on this Study Ends For further details: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091-750418

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NUI Galway scientists develop rapid test for potentially paralysing infection

NUI Galway scientists develop rapid test for potentially paralysing infection-image

Monday, 12 February 2001

Release date: 12 February, 2001 NUI Galway scientists develop rapid test for potentially paralysing infection When people complain of suffering from a tummy bug, it might be just a mild infection, which is easily treated leaving no after effects. Alternatively, they could be among the increasing number of sufferers in this country, who have contracted a form of gastroenteritis, which may lead to paralysis. Scientists at NUI, Galway have developed a rapid test to detect strains of Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), the commonest cause of gastroenteritis worldwide, with the potential to cause a rare neurological complication, known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). "There are increasing concerns at the level of illness caused by C. jejuni infection, which now exceeds the combined total of enteritis cases caused by Salmonella, E. coli, and Shigella", says Dr. Anthony Moran of NUI, Galway s Department of Microbiology, who has done extensive research in this area. "Although numbers of sufferers in this country are on the increase, there is limited public awareness of the condition, which if not diagnosed and treated correctly, can have catastrophic consequences for the patient". In total, 2085 cases of laboratory-confirmed C. jejuni enteritis were reported in 1999 in Ireland. In the UK and US, where there is significant public awareness of the condition, C. jejuni is regarded as a major contributor to employee absenteeism. It is estimated that 2 million working days per year are lost in the UK due to gastroenteritis caused by C. jejuni. Furthermore, there is an estimated annual incidence of C. jejuni-associated enteritis of between 2-10 million cases in the USA alone, and the condition costs in the region of $1.3-6.2 billion US dollars per annum. Symptoms of C. jejuni infection usually include diarrhoea, fever, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps, which are often severe enough to mimic appendicitis. Enteritis most often results from consumption of untreated milk or water, or via consumption of undercooked poultry meat. Patients with C. jejuni enteritis usually recover within a few days but in a small proportion of cases, a rare neurological disorder, known as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) develops 7-10 days after the onset of enteritis symptoms. According to Dr. Martina Prendergast, a member of Dr. Moran s research team, "the disease affects about 1-2/100,000 of the population per year, translating into 40-50 potential new Irish GBS cases each year". Significantly, Dr. Moran says that, "GBS has replaced polio as the leading cause of infectious paralytic disease. Moreover, he adds that, "when added to the cost of C. jejuni enteritis, treatment costs for GBS add up to a further $2 billion US dollars to the economic impact of C. jejuni infection in the USA each year". Although it affects both sexes of any age, GBS affects men more commonly than women by a ratio of 1.5:1, and the incidence increases with age. Symptoms of GBS begin with a tingling or a pins and needles feeling in the toes and tips of fingers, which rapidly progresses to include the whole of the limbs. Weakness and numbness progress to a paralysis, which may involve respiratory muscles. Months can elapse before the patient s recovery begins. Substantial improvement occurs within the next 3-12 months in the majority of cases, but 20% of GBS patients are left with a residual disability and about 5% of patients die. In most cases of GBS, a link with C. jejuni infection is suspected. The rapid test to detect C. jejuni strains that the research team of Dr. Anthony Moran and Dr. Martina Prendergast of the Department of Microbiology in NUI, Galway have developed, eliminates the need to grow large quantities of organism and substantially reduces the time needed for strain characterisation. "Hundreds of strains can be screened quickly and cheaply, and the test could be routinely used in hospital laboratories to detect potential disease-causing strains", says Dr. Moran. The research team is also investigating safety issues in the development of a C. jejuni vaccine. The work is funded as part of a three-year on-going project by the Irish Health Research Board. Dr. Anthony Moran is available for interview on the details of his research. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer. Tel. 091 750418

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NUI Galway Graduate appointed Cardinal

NUI Galway Graduate appointed Cardinal-image

Tuesday, 6 February 2001

Release date: 6 February, 2001 NUI Galway Graduate appointed Cardinal Pope John Paul has announced the appointment of seven more Cardinals, among them the Franciscan Archbishop of Durban (Republic of South Africa), Wilfrid Napier. Wilfrid Napier was born in Matatiele, South Africa, in 1941 and grew up amid the injustices brought about by the apartheid regime of the country at that time. His family knew the Franciscans from Ireland, who ministered in the area and Wilfrid came to this country, where he joined the Order at their Novitiate in Killarney. He went on to study in the Faculty of Arts at NUI, Galway, where he took a B.A. degree in Latin and English, graduating in 1964. He excelled at sports - and is still prone to using sporting metaphors when preaching. Having been professed in St Anthony s College, Galway in 1964, he went to the Irish Franciscan College at Leuven, Belgium, where in succession he took degrees in Philosophy and in Theology. He then returned to his native South Africa, where he has progressed to the highest ranks of the Catholic Church. He became Bishop of Kokstad, his native diocese, in 1981, at the age of forty. He served a term as President of the South African Bishop s conference, and was frequently its spokesman. In 1992, he was appointed Archbishop of Durban. As a distinguished alumnus of the University, Archbishop Napier was conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Laws in NUI, Galway on June 26th 1995. Ends Information From: Máire Mhic Uidhir. Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418

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March 2001

Three NUI Galway Researchers Honoured

Three NUI Galway Researchers Honoured-image

Wednesday, 21 March 2001

Release date: 21 March, 2001 Three NUI Galway Researchers Honoured for Excellence in Erosion and Sediment Control Three National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI, Galway) researchers have been honoured for excellence in natural resource conservation and environmental protection. The researchers measured the amount of erosion resulting from sheep grazing peat hillsides in western Ireland. Rain can wash sediment from such erosion into streams, threatening water quality and spawning grounds of wild Atlantic salmon. John Mulqueen, of Teagasc, who is based in the University and Michael Rodgers and Niall Marren, of NUI, Galway s Civil Engineering Department, describe their findings in a technical paper, Erosion of Hill Peat in Western Ireland. Their paper has received the 2001 Most Distinguished Technical Paper Award, from the International Erosion Control Association (IECA). Dr. Michael Rodgers accepted the award on behalf of all three researchers during formal ceremonies at the recent 2001 IECA conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Nearly 2000 erosion control professionals from around the world attended the conference. The award is made to a scientific paper that contributes most to advancing erosion control knowledge and also recognises concise, clear technical writing, which presents innovative solutions to erosion control problems. The NUI, Galway research, the first of its kind involving peat hillsides, was prompted by concerns that increased stocking rates of sheep could accelerate erosion. Grazing by more sheep could remove too much soil-protecting vegetation and increased foot treading on paths could loosen the peat soils, leaving them more vulnerable to the erosive impact of raindrops and to runoff. The two-year field study involved an 8-hectare Leenane subcatchment of the Erriff River on a Teagasc research farm at Glendavock townland (Co. Mayo). Many slopes on the farm have gradients of 9% to 18%. Average annual rainfall, about 2,500 mm, is among the highest in Ireland. In addition to the field studies at Leenane, the researchers conducted laboratory tests on undisturbed slabs of peat from Leenane and three other sites at Maam, Croagh Patrick and Newport at the Environmental Engineering and Soil Mechanics Laboratories at NUI, Galway. In the laboratory tests the researchers varied the slope and simulated the type of soil disturbance caused by sheep traffic. They found that annual peat sediment losses at the Leenane hill farm averaged 278 kg per hectare with a stocking rate of 0.9 Scottish Blackface ewes per hectare. In the laboratory trials, the virgin peats at Leenane and Maam were very resistant to erosion, while virgin peats from both Newport and Croagh Patrick were erodible. According to the researchers, this study suggests that overstocking, primarily through excessive sheep traffic damaging the peat and weathering of shallow peat, increases the likelihood of erosion. Removal of vegetation, per se, by grazing has less impact on erosion because of the strength of the peat's fibrous top layer.For hill peat farming, the sustainable sheep-stocking rate depends on the proportion and strategic use of greenland available. Under the management system at Leenane, this stocking rate is 0.9 ewes per hectare. To reduce erosion, sheep access areas and corridors should be changed from time to time. If heavily treaded with little vegetation, these areas should be fenced off to allow for recovery of the peat surface and re-establishment of vegetation. The research was financed, in part, by European Union Structural Funding through Teagasc. The IECA, founded in 1972, is a non-profit professional organisation, with members in 56 countries around the world who are dedicated to minimising accelerated soil erosion. This is the tenth year of the annual IECA Environmental Excellence Awards programme. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418

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Ultra-fast laser facility puts Galway Centre at the

Ultra-fast laser facility puts Galway Centre at the-image

Monday, 12 March 2001

Release date: 12 March, 2001 Ultra-fast laser facility puts Galway Centre at thecutting edge of Technology The National Centre for Laser Applications (NCLA) NUI, Galway has just opened a new state-of-the-art laser processing facility. The new laboratory is built around a femto-second laser system, supplied by Clark MXR of the US. This is only one of four similar systems installed in laboratories around Europe and places the NCLA at the forefront of the new science of ultra-fast laser processing of materials. "This new laser will allow us to provide this cutting-edge technology to Irish companies for the first time", according to Dr Gerard O Connor, manager of the NCLA. "The first industrial research project based on this new technology has just been agreed between the NCLA and a leading global manufacturer of micro-components." The NCLA is Ireland s centre of excellence in laser technology, working closely with Irish industry on the development of new production tools and techniques based on laser and optical systems. Laser technology is successfully employed in a large number of industries, from drilling and cutting of engineering materials, to precision marking and welding of advanced polymers. "Lasers are also a key enabling technology in the automation of high precision industrial processes, " explains Dr. O Connor. "Many Irish companies, both indigenous and multi-national, in sectors ranging from electronics to medical devices, benefit significantly from the improved product quality, greater efficiency and higher throughput, which laser tooling can provide". The medical device manufacturing sector is one of the most active in the uptake of laser technology and the NCLA provides much support in terms of research and development services to this sector and runs a successful conference each year for this industry. Galway is now acknowledged as the European Centre for medical device manufacturing, with many thousands employed in companies such as Boston Scientific and Medtronic AVE. Femto-second lasers are an exciting new technology in the field of materials processing applications. "The technology is based on the generation of a stream of extremely short, high intensity light pulses, each lasting for only a few hundred femto-seconds. (A femto-second is equal to 10-15 of a second, or a million-billionth of a second!)," explains Dr. O Connor. "The key benefits of such ultra-short pulses lie in their ability to deposit energy into materials in a very short time interval, offering significant advantages over conventional laser sources in high-precision applications such as micro-machining, micro-drilling and ultra-precise cutting." Materials processing with femto-second lasers is also largely independent of the optical properties of the material, which opens up the possibility of processing transparent materials like glasses and highly reflective and conductive materials such as aluminium and copper which have traditionally been unsuitable for laser machining. "Femto-second lasers are facilitating 21st century advances in science and technology, enabling the machining of the smallest precision features in biological and man-made materials," according to Dr. Jonathan Magee, a senior engineer at the NCLA. As the energy is transferred from the laser beam into the material, the temperature of the material rises rapidly above its boiling point, where it vapourises. This process is called ablation. "With conventional laser processing techniques, the heat is conducted quickly away from the absorption region before ablation occurs, leading to melting of the material over a larger area. This results in a lower precision and quality of the laser processed parts," says Dr. Magee. The femtosecond system located at NUI, Galway consists of three laser sources in a single table-top system. These lasers are referred to as the semiconductor seed laser, the YAG pump laser and the titanium-sapphire amplifier laser. The system will deliver up to one thousand ultra-short pulses per second and the duration of the pulse can be varied from 180 to 1000 femtoseconds. "This is an exciting development for the NCLA and we look forward to giving many Irish companies the opportunity to develop new products and processes using this new facility" says Dr. O Connor. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, Tel. 091 750418

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April 2001

Presentation of Scoláireachtaí na nGéanna Fiáine

Presentation of Scoláireachtaí na nGéanna Fiáine-image

Friday, 6 April 2001

Release date: 6 April, 2001 Presentation of Scoláireachtaí na nGéanna Fiáine in NUI, Galway GAELOILIÚINT, the Council for Life-long Gaelic Learning, have presented six Scholarships to students of the Higher Diploma in Education as Gaeilge, in NUI, Galway today (Friday 6 April, 2001). The scholarships have been presented in memory and in honour of Ireland s Wild Geese i.e. the citizens of Ireland who, although they may have had to exile abroad, always strove to further the Irish cause, a tradition which exists to this day. The scholarships, valued at £600 each, were presented by Doctor Dónall Ó Baoill, Professor of Irish Studies in Queen s University, Belfast and Chairperson of GAELOILIÚINT. Each recipient will donate £100 of the scholarship to the Gaelscoil of their choice. The ceremony took place in Áras na Gaeilge, NUI, Galway today at 2.30 p.m. The recipients of the scholarships are: Adrian Ó Brádaigh, Offaly Máire Bríd Breathnach, Ros Muc, Co. Galway Yvonne Ní Chomnraí, Tuam, Co. Galway Fiona Ní Chualáin, Carna, Co. Galway Mícheál Ó Mealláin, Newcastle, Galway Gráinne Máire Ní Fhlannabhra, Grattan Park, Galway This year s scholarships are named after Irish Ambassadors, some famous, some not, some living, some who have passed away, all pillars of Irish citizenship be it abroad or at home, with little or no recognition or thanks. Their endeavours furthered the Irish language, culture, politics and community: Douglas Hyde, scholar and politician, founder of the Gaelic League and first Irish President Anne Devlin, A Dubliner who spent many years of her life, especially during the Famine, helping to clothe and feed the poor and downtrodden Peig Sayers, a noble and exemplary lady who needs no introduction Michael & Pearl Flannery, based in New York - they too espoused the cause of the poor George Harrison, also worked out of New York as an active Irish Socialist. George remains a close friend of Nelson Mandela Terry Callaghan, now also in New York, Terry was personal Secretary to the late Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich. She continues to work quietly and diligently for the Irish language and people. "All these Wild Geese have, during their lifetime displayed an unusually high degree of diligence and vision through their personal and public work" states Dr. Dónall Ó Baoill. "They provided guidance and moral leadership to the community around them in a quiet steadfast way by the very example they gave. I have absolutely no doubt that such pioneers continue to come through our Irish Universities today, such as the young recipients of our scholarships, who will, in due course, achieve still greater things for our language and people" ENDS Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway Tel: 091-750418

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