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Connacht Tribune

Alcock and Brown Centre to mark centenary of aviation milestone

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With the centenary of the Alcock and Brown landing near Clifden just two years away, a number of British businessmen are floating a plan to develop a major centre to mark that historic milestone in aviation history.

The compass for the ambitious proposal is now fixed on the airstrip site near Cleggan village, about seven miles north of Clifden town; this is one of the two airstrips that were developed almost a decade ago at a cost of over €9m to provide a service between Inishbofin Island and the mainland.

With little chance of a Government subvention for the Inishbofin service – it was ruled out by then-Minister of State, Dinny McGinley, some years ago – a call went out for submissions on the future use of the airstrips.

The UK group was among those to made a submission to the Department of Arts, Culture, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs.  They see the airstrip and the adjoining lands near Cleggan as a possible site for an Alcock and Brown Centre.

The businessmen with the idea of a centre commemorating the pioneering flight by Alcock and Brown visited the airstrip near Cleggan last week.

They also met members of the Clifden and West Connemara Airport Board – the group that originally championed the campaign for air services to west Connemara and Inishbofin.

The proposal has also been discussed with Gaeltacht and Natural Resources Minister, Seán Kyne, and with community groups and business people in Clifden.

While no concrete plans are in place, the general idea is that a centre – probably containing a replica of the Alcock and Brown plane from 1919 – would be developed with a €20m investment being mooted.

Initial figures suggest it could attract a half million visitors per year; its proximity to Kylemore Abbey and to the Connemara National Park – both among the prime tourism destinations in the West – and the huge historic significance of the Alcock and Brown flight are put forward in support of these visitor forecasts.

The Vickers Vimy plane used by Alcock and Brown on the first flight across the Atlantic is kept in the Science Museum in London.  It is thought highly unlikely that it would be moved from there.

A replica of that plane was used by American adventurers, Steve Foster and Mark Rebholz who flew on the Alcock and Brown route from Newfoundland to Connemara in 2009.  They landed at the Golf Course in Ballyconneely.  The replica plane was said to be worth €5m.

The proposal promoters met business interests and community groups in Clifden and had discussions with incoming County Council Chairperson, Councillor Eileen Mannion.

It is understood that they had an interest in the Ball Alley site immediately to the west of Clifden town but that location is earmarked for another project.

The Clifden and West Connemara Airport company continue to own a parcel of land comprising over thirty acres beside the airstrip in the townland of Cloonlaghtanabba near Cleggan.

The team floating the Alcock and Brown Centre idea are understood to be anxious that the airstrip would become operational with the likelihood of visitors landing there and taking in the mooted adjacent Centre on their travels.

The men who have floated the project are understood to have proposed that a local group, company or concern would invest between €100,000 and €150,000 in the initial phase of the project; that would entitle them to an ongoing share of the hoped for profits on a continuing basis into the future.

There have been many suggestions over the years about bringing more visitors to west Connemara based on the historic events of June 1919 when Alcock and Brown blazed a trail that opened up vast new possibilities in the world.

A trail was established at the landing site on the Ballyconneely side of Clifden last year which encompasses the landing site and the Marconi wireless station location.  This is basically a walk through the site with information hoardings and seating along the way However, it appears very unlikely that a commemorative structure could be built there because of environmental rules.

The Cleggan site may be the next best option but there are many logistics and huge sums of money to bargain for before the Alcock and Brown project would fly.

Connacht Tribune

Football’s a funny old game – and you can quote me on that

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

If someone actually made it a requirement of your commitment to your job that you run through a brick wall for them, surely the people from health and safety would have to intervene?

And yet this the ultimate tribute a manager pays to their star player, as a way of suggesting he or she would always go the extra yard.

Never mind that the world now measures in metres, but whatever the currency, what would be the point of going a yard or metre further than was required?

Because going the extra yard would mean you’ve gone too far, which sort of defeats the whole plan in the first place.

And yet you hear it all the time, because sports stars have a way of giving an interview which revolves around half a dozen stock answers – all of which leave you none the wiser when it’s over.

Managers learn how to expand on these stock replies to incorporate a whole new range of clichés that fill airtime but answer nothing.

More to the point, they often mean nothing too.

Because where else in life would 100 per cent commitment to the particular cause never be quite enough – given that everyone else was giving 110 per cent?

And yet that too is among those most common clichés expressed in post-match set-piece interviews; packed to the wall with observations that actually mean precisely nothing.

Those post-game interviews were in the news for more serious reasons in recent weeks, after one of the biggest stars of the world of tennis, Naomi Osaka, declined to do them during the French Open because she said that negative questions on her performance were impacting on her mental health.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Sporting organisations letting us down by rolling over to NPHET

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Galway players Niamh McGrath and Siobhan Gardiner show their disappointment after falling to Kilkenny in Sunday's National Camogie League final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IRELAND’S various big sporting organisations continue to embarrass themselves in relation to how they are handling the Covid pandemic. Being slaves to public health guidelines is one thing, but these bodies have introduced some rules of their own which are only further alienating their support base.

The GAA, IRFU, the FAI and Horse Racing Ireland may be currently dependent on public finances to keep their respective shows on the road, but that can’t excuse their lack of independent thinking or the fact they are making a deeply frustrating situation worse by adding in their own Covid-19 regulations

In effect, these sporting bodies are trying too hard to please NPHET and it doesn’t seem to matter how much they inconvenience or antagonise their grassroots in the process. Take the GAA, for instance. At club level dressing rooms remain closed and that causes significant irritation, especially on wet days.

Horse Racing Ireland is no better. Two owners per runner have been allowed back at race meetings and while that number is about to increase to four, there has been little enthusiasm among the cohort of people who pay the bills to return. And why would they? – no catering, no bookies and no atmosphere. And the most absurd thing of all is that the racing authorities are still enforcing the mask-wearing regulation.

Imagine still having to use a face covering in what amounts to big open fields. Is Horse Racing Ireland clueless as to how foolish jockeys, trainers, the few owners and media people present are being made to look, especially when the risk of contracting Covid is negligible in such an environment? All the while, beaches, public parks and walkways are milling with people.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

The thrill of learning

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Embracing education: Anna Keane who will begin a BA in September; Anne Marie Ward who is doing a part-time degree in Youth, Community and Family Studies; Owen Ward who has a Master’s in Education and works at NUIG; and Jason Sherlock who will embark on a Master’s in International Finance in September. All entered NUIG via its Access Programme.

Lifestyle – Most members of the Travelling community are unlikely to finish secondary education and only a tiny proportion go to university. But for people who want an academic education, NUIG is leading the way. Four keen learners share their stories with JUDY MURPHY, among them post-graduate Owen Ward who works in NUIG’s Access Office, assisting people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Starting third-level education can be daunting for even the most confident teenager. Entering a massive campus, meeting so many new people, trying to figure out timetables, deciding what societies to join and just finding your feet – those early weeks can be a challenge.

That’s how Jason Sherlock felt when the young city man began his degree at NUIG in 2018. A member of the Travelling community, Jason had more reason than most to feel daunted in this educational establishment. According to the 2016 Census, only one percent of Travellers go on to third level – although that has increased slightly since then, thanks to people like Jason and his mentor, Owen Ward, a Programme Coordinator in the university’s Access Office.

Jason, who entered university though the Access Programme, which supports students from ‘non-traditional backgrounds’, will begin studying for a Master’s in International Finance in September, having completed a degree in Economics, Sociology and Political Science.

As we meet on the campus at NUIG on a sunny Friday, he recalls having his photo taken by the Tribune 11 years ago, on his final day at Scoil Bhríde National School in Shantalla, where he had never missed a day.

But university was different. Initially, Jason felt it wasn’t for him and almost dropped out of his course. That’s where Owen Ward appeared. Owen who graduated from NUIG in 2014, having also entered via the Access Programme, was back doing a Master’s in Education.  He heard Jason was on campus and went looking for him among the 18,000 students.

“I didn’t know Jason at the time but I knew his father. And I tracked him down,” he recalls with a laugh. Having done that, he was able to support the younger man in those difficult early days. Jason found his feet and with Owen went on to set up Mincéirs Whiden, a new society at NUIG. The first of its kind in any third-level institution, Mincéirs Whiden is for Traveller students but is open to all. Members include students from the settled community, Irish and international.

Anne Marie Ward, who is beginning her third year of a part-time degree in Youth, Community and Family Studies, is the incoming chair of Mincéirs Whiden.

She’s also the new Ethnic Minorities Officer for the NUIG Students’ Union, the first member of the Travelling Community to be elected to a position in the student body.  She is Owen’s sister.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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