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Anger over bike scheme docking station

Denise McNamara

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Row over bike stands

The roll-out of the docking stations for the new public bike scheme has infuriated Newcastle residents after they discovered it would swallow up a third of their street parking.

Ground works for the station on University Road began 10 days ago. However, it only dawned on locals last week that this would be a permanent fixture taking over up to five on-street pay-and-display parking spaces, which can be used by residents once they have a parking permit.

The area is used extensively for people visiting the University Hospital Galway and NUI Galway and residents have long complained they have trouble finding a space for themselves.

That will worsen significantly when the bike stand opens, with just eight spaces available for general use on the road due to a loading bay, the position of the traffic lights and now public bikes.

One of those remaining spaces will also be turned into a disabled parking space to replace the one removed from by the bike stand.

Labour Councillor Billy Cameron said the position of the station is “absolutely crazy”. None of the other 19 stations are taking away such premium car spaces, he contends.

“This is a perfect example of a decision made in Dublin without consultation with residents and the public,” he fumed.

“This amounts to up to five spaces, probably 33.3% of those on the street. It’s glaringly obvious it’s on the wrong side of the road. People who take the bikes will most likely be heading into town and they’ll have to cross the road. It will also affect the collection of refuse as the residents will no longer be able to put out their bins there.”

A spokesman for Galway City Council said the scheme was being rolled out by the National Transport Authority (NTA) with support from the city’s Transportation Unit.

The sites were identified and brought to the attention of city councillors at various presentations by the NTA.

But Cllr Cameron said the NTA made no mention of taking over car parking spaces.

“I had no idea it was going to be outside residences. When they talked about University Road I assumed it would be on the other side of the road across from Tesco where there is a large chunk of a corner that swerves along the boundary of the university wall.”

Calls to the NTA and consulting engineers in charge of the project, Arup, were not returned at the time of going to print.

The scheme will see the city getting 205 bikes, 19 stations and 395 stands with a start date now thought to be late October.

Connacht Tribune

Old mills set for new life as distillery

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the new distillery.

An old corn mill in East Galway is set to be transformed into a €6 million whiskey and gin manufacturing distillery – once planning permission has been granted for the development.

And if approved, the distillery has the potential to create more than 15 new jobs directly in the village of Ahascragh, providing a huge economic boost to the area – and rescuing the old corn mill which ceased operation in the 1950s.

A planning application for the new brewery has just been submitted by Gareth and Michelle McAllister of McAllister Distillers in North Dublin, with a decision due before the end of the year.

Gareth McAllister told The Connacht Tribune that he intended to renovate the old building while retaining some of the old features such as a mill wheel, and utilise the stream that runs through the property.

The complex, as well as producing various styles of Irish whiskey and gin, will also include a visitor centre, rooms for hospitality events, a retail shop and cafe.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Aer Arann marks half a century of linking islands to the mainland

Dara Bradley

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Current Aer Arann owners Jarlath Conneely (left) and Peter McKenna, pictured in front of their aircraft. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

When Coley Hernon of Cill Rónáin on Inis Mór wrote letters to newspaper editors in 1970, questioning why the Aran Islands couldn’t have an air service like that operating from many Scottish islands, a number of Galway businessmen responded to the challenge.

Among them were visionaries Jimmy Coen and Ralph Langan, who established a local airline, Aer Arann Islands – and on August 15, 1970 the first flight took place between Inis Mór and the Galway mainland, at Oranmore.

According to the Connacht Tribune archives, the inaugural flight of the twin-engine plane, which cost £40,000, carried ten people in all, including a number of Bórd Fáilte officials and tourism representatives.

“The weather was unkind and heavy mist and squally winds made for unpleasant conditions but nevertheless the inaugural flight went off according to schedule,” the Tribune newspaper report said at the time.

When they landed, they were greeted by members of Aran Islands Tourist Development Association at a new £20,000 airstrip at Killeaney.

That first commercial flight from Galway’s mainland to the Aran Islands will be commemorated this weekend, 50 years later.

From those humble beginnings, it’s a company that has faced turbulence during its five decades, not least in recent years when there was uncertainty over State supports (PSO, Public Service Obligation) for the service . . . but at its core has always been a sense of duty to serving islanders.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway among counties least hit by Covid

Dara Bradley

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Galway has so far suppressed the spread of Coronavirus this summer – with the latest figures showing the county is one of the least affected in the Republic of Ireland in the past fortnight.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population stands at just 3.1 in Galway in the last two weeks, compared with the national average of 18.42.

Three of the counties plunged into a partial lockdown again last Friday – Laois, Kildare and Offaly – had cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight of 86.19, 146.51 and 123.14 respectively.

The rate in Clare was 28.62, Mayo was 6.32, Roscommon was 1.55, and Tipperary was 1.25.

In the past week, Galway surpassed the 500-mark for confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic struck in March.

None of them are now in hospital, according to the data.

In the week to Sunday, there were a total of three new cases confirmed in Galway, bringing the running total to 501. The previous week, there a total of five new cases.

On Tuesday of this week, both of Galway’s two public hospitals, University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula, were Covid-free, and were not treating any patients in wards or in ICU who were confirmed as having Covid-19.

Get all the latest coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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