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Abbey in fundraising drive for urgent restoration work

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A major fundraising drive is being organised to restore the Abbey of St Francis Street to its original glory.

The Church was built in 1836 and consecrated by Bishop of Galway Dr Laurence O’Donnell in 1849 under the title of ‘The Immaculate Conception,’ the first Church in Ireland to bear this title.

The project was led by the Guardian of the Community, Fr John Jennings, and the architect was John Cusack, who designed a building in the classic Doric style.

The upgrade will involve no structural change to the Abbey. Due to a previously leaking roof, some of the plaster work needs attention including the areas where the wiring has been replaced. x2 Pic 3 Abbey

As the backing walls of the Confessionals are four feet below ground, there is serious damp soaking into the building that needs urgent attention to remove the dry rot. The Belfry is also damp.

Work has already begun on the rewiring as the current wiring is very old and dangerous. The lighting will be replaced with LED lights to make the ongoing running costs more economically and environmentally friendly.

A tasteful repainting is also planned to enhance the appearance of the Church while emphasising the unique architectural quality of the building.

“We’re the oldest swingers in town – we’re here 719 years at this stage through thick and thin so we’re hoping the people of Galway will support us,” remarked Fr Eugene Barrett, one of the six Franciscans still living in the Abbey.

A 12-strong committee has been set up by friends of the Franciscan community and members of the congregation to raise at least €150,000. The scaffolding alone will be very costly and has to be erected in a way to maintain normal services and not damage the tiled floor.

“It is pretty urgent. The electrics are in an awful state, the damp and wet rot is a very obvious thing. With a view to the Capital of Culture bid, there will be a lot of visitors to the city and we didn’t want them to see a shabby inside,” said Fr Eugene.

Special events in the pipeline include the ‘Cabaret by the Bay’ on Wednesday, December 2 in the Salthill Hotel with a big lineup of popular singers and performers, including Brendan Shine, TR Dallas and Johnny Carroll.

The first Franciscan foundation in Galway was in 1296 on St Stephen’s Island – the site of the present courthouse. It was here that the Friars ministered to the lepers, taking after St Francis.

x4 caption to go under pics Some of the dampness, damage and old wiring in the church in urgent need of repair. 

Some of the dampness, damage and old wiring in the church in urgent need of repair.

 

Like other Franciscan foundations, it was Norman in origin, being founded by Uilliam Liath De Burgo.

In pre-reformation times the Abbey was highly esteemed as a place of learning and the Church judged very beautiful.

In 1513 the Archbishop of Tuam Maurice O’Fihely was buried under the High Altar of the Church. In the 16th century after Henry the VIII broke all ties with Rome, the Abbey was outlawed as a place of worship but the Friars continued to live locally. In 1657 the Friary was destroyed and the church was turned into a courthouse.

The Friars founded a new Friary and Church on the present site on Francis Street. The area around the ‘Abbey’ became the first Franciscan parish in modern Ireland in 1971.

There are no substantial remains of the buildings from the medieval Friary, but a collection of medieval tombstones can still be seen in the present Friary garden dating back from that era.

The Church was renovated in 1970s. Eight years ago a community committee raised €100,000 to repair the roof which was leaking badly. They also raised €1.1m to restore the Poor Clare’s Convent on Nun’s Island, a member of the Franciscan community.

The Abbey is one of the busiest churches in the city centre with a congregation drawn from across the city as well as people from Connemara who use the stop outside the Abbey to catch the bus. Confessions are heard daily. x2 Pic 2

The Franciscans also conduct visitations to the many students living in the area and then every three months hold ‘night fever’ events, which involves inviting young people out on the town to come inside to light a candle or say a prayer.

The Abbey Church is setting up a specific bank account for fundraising called the ‘Franciscan Friars Building Account’ at the Bank of Ireland, Eyre Square, Galway.

Connacht Tribune

Development hailed as major boost in tackling local housing demand

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Artist’s impression...the proposed Claregalway housing development.

The green light has been given to a sizeable residential development in Claregalway, which was the subject both of strenuous opposition and support in the area.

An Bord Pleanála have granted planning permission for 111 houses and apartments in Claregalway following a strategic housing development application by K King Construction for the development at Lakeview, Claregalway.

Local councillor David Collins (FG) welcomed the decision saying that there was an urgent need for new housing in Claregalway given the demand.

And he also paid tribute to developer Walter King for offering land for the development of community facilities to the local area.

“We need the houses and we need the land so this decision satisfies Claregalway on both fronts,” Cllr Collins added.

The Athenry Oranmore area councillor also said that requirement that a certain number of houses be reserved for Irish speakers was also a boost to developing the language in the area – Claregalway is part of the Gaeltacht.

The higher planning authority ruled that the proposed development would constitute an acceptable residential density at this location and was also acceptable in terms of traffic and pedestrian safety.

They also said that the site could be drained satisfactorily and that surface water would not be an issue.

The site for the development measures over twelve acres in size and is located at the junction of the Lydican Road about three quarters of a mile from the village off the main Oranmore road.

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Connacht Tribune

Carna’s Community Café raises a cuppa – and funds – for new Ukrainian arrivals

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Carna Community Café volunteers presenting a cheque to Irish Red Cross Conamara Area Director Niall O'Meachair (third from right); pictured are (from left) Máirín Ní Churraion, Kate Mulkerrins, Siobhán Kennedy, Tom Lane and Máire Ní Domhnaill.

Carna’s new Community Cafe has donated €1,000 to the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal – thanks to the village’s love of tea, cake, and a good old chat.

The brainchild of a group of sea-swimming enthusiasts living in the area, the weekly café started just before Easter as a way to help people begin socialising again after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Looking to simply cover costs – with the café’s bakers and servers all volunteering and charging just a euro for a cup of tea or a piece of cake – the team decided any excess income would be donated to charity.

Little did they know that just five weeks later they would be passing on €1,000 to the Red Cross.

“The aim initially wasn’t to raise money at all, we just wanted to provide a friendly, welcoming and affordable place where people could come and have a chat and see each other again,” said Máirín Ní Churraoin, who runs the local Post Office.

“But it’s been proving more popular than we could have imagined, so we decided that any income generated has to go to a good cause – for this first donation we all felt the Red Cross Ukraine appeal was an obvious choice.”

The Ukraine appeal is even more fitting given the location of the Café: the dining room of the Carna Bay Hotel, which is currently providing accommodation to people who have fled the conflict.

“We’re delighted to be able to support this fantastic initiative, it’s just brilliant to see people coming out and socialising over a bit of cake again,” said Karl Rogers from the Carna Bay Hotel.

“And with the tea, musicians and chat, it’s a great way for our guests from Ukraine to meet local people and experience Irish culture first-hand.”

At the most recent event on Saturday May 7th, Irish Red Cross Conamara Area Director, Niall O’Meachair was on hand to collect a cheque for €1,000.

“We’re absolutely delighted to receive this money from the Community Café in Carna, and through the work of the Red Cross we’ll make sure it goes to helping people affected by this awful, awful conflict.”

The Community Café is held every Saturday in the Carna Bay Hotel, 10am to 12:30pm.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Old stone-carved bank sign to be retained after community lobby

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Deputy Sean Canney outside the old Bank of Ireland building at Shop Street in Tuam.

An old stone carved sign on the front of a former bank building in the heart of Tuam is to be retained, following intense representations from the local business community.

The building is currently being renovated by the Department of Social Protection which is moving into the property over the coming months

Galway East TD Sean Canney received confirmation from the Department that the red brick building on Shop Street will retain the old Bank of Ireland name.

The Bank of Ireland was originally located at Shop Street in Tuam before moving to its current location at Dublin Road several decades ago.

The building on Shop Street was then occupied by the town library, which has since moved to the local Council offices, and now it is being renovated so that it can be occupied by the Department of Social Protection.

During the renovations of the old library building on Shop Street to make way for the new Intreo Centre, which brings together various social welfare services, the old stone carved sign was revealed.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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