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An Taisce disappointed Council did not purchase former school

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An Taisce have expressed disappointment that the City Council didn’t make an effort to buy the old Piscatorial School at the Claddagh – there has been considerable speculation this week that the property has been bought by a local developer.

The listed building – dating back to the mid-1800s – is owned by the Dominican Order and last year the Council had been in discussions with them to secure a five-year lease on the property.

However, according to the Council, the Order opted earlier this year to go down the road of a straight sale on the building, with a €500,000 guide price outlined by agents DVA Donal Ó Buachalla and Power & Associates.

However, in a letter to Galway An Taisce Chair, Derrick Hambleton, the Council outlined that they were ‘currently precluded’ from raising loans in relation to the purchase of buildings and were therefore not in a position to make an offer for the property.

Mr Hambleton told the Galway City Tribune that An Taisce were ‘extremely disappointed’ the local authority hadn’t made any effort to purchase the building at a time when €7 million of public monies was being ‘poured’ into the arthouse cinema.

“It will be an incredible loss to the city if this building is lost to the commercial sector. The Piscatorial School building would be a perfect location to highlight the cultural heritage of the Claddagh and its links to the Eglinton Canal and the Claddagh Basin,” said Mr Hambleton.

He added that he was also ‘extremely disappointed’ that the Dominican Order hadn’t even bothered to acknowledge correspondence received from An Taisce seeking a meeting with them as regards the future of the building.

“I don’t really know whether the building has been sold off or not but if it has, it will be a major loss to the culture of the city and to the general community,” said Mr Hambleton.

Senior Executive Officer for Arts and Culture with the City Council, Gary McMahon, wrote to An Taisce early last month, outlining how they had in 2015 tried to secure a lease [minimum five years] of the building from the Dominicans.

“Our intention was to link the former school with our emerging plans in relation to the development of a museum/cultural quarter to form a triangle of interest from the City Museum and the Spanish Arch to the Fisheries Tower, the school and the Claddagh Basin,” Mr McMahon stated in his letter.

He said that this would have ‘allowed a wonderful opportunity’ to highlight and enhance the significant local history and heritage of the Claddagh into an overarching programme of heritage interest in the city.

The Piscatorial School [the name comes from matters relating to fishing] – located beside Claddagh Church – dates back to 1846 when the Dominicans built it for the purpose of educating local children in literacy as well as practical skills such a making fishing nets and sewing.

By the early 1900s, it was functioning as a conventional primary school while in more recent times it housed the city’s social welfare office for a number of years and was also used as a vocational training centre.

The Galway City Tribune could not get confirmation of the property being sold off to a private developer although there was considerable speculation this week that a local company – specialising in apartment conversions and constructions – had acquired the iconic building.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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