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Connacht Tribune

Appeals Board rejects plan to finish house on Omey Island

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The development of a house on one of the most idyllic islands off the Galway coast has been rejected by the higher planning authority – overturning a decision by county planners to grant permission for the home.

It was proposed to retain and complete a partially constructed dwelling on Omey Island – but An Bord Pleanala has now poured cold water on the plan because it would impact on a scenic location on the island.

In September, Galway County Council granted planning permission for the retention of the house subject to eleven conditions being complied with – despite strong local opposition.

County planners said that the structure might be reasonably described as largely intact and agreed it provided an opportunity for the redevelopment in a manner which respected the integral character of the former dwelling on the site.

Planners had asked the applicant Peter Fitzsimons about the feasibility of the structure and received a structural engineer’s report that was to their satisfaction.

The application stated the Mr Fitzsimons had owned the site since 2002. He has been involved in the rearing and breeding of Connemara ponies while part of his landholding has been used as a work base for the restoration of St Fechin’s Church on Omey Island.

It was also said that Mr Fitzsimons has been a visitor to the area for more than 20 years and has been involved in various groups was well as being a sponsor of the annual Omey Races on the beach.

But the decision to grant planning was the subject an appeal to An Bord Pleanala by a number of local residents.

According to Bernadette Davin from Claddaghduff, the partially completed house is sited in a prominent, elevated, open and exposed rural location close to the shoreline at Omey Island in an area of significant scenic amenity and tourism value.

She argued that the development contravenes the policies of the planning authority who is to preserve the character of the landscape.

“The development in question militates against the protection and preservation of the coastline of Omey Island and Claddaghduff and is seriously injurious to the amenities of the area,” it was stated in the appeal.

In overturning the decision of Galway County Council, An Bord Pleanala ruled that the development proposed to be retained and completed, in view of its elevated and prominent siting on Omey Island, would break the skyline and be visible from tourist routes.

They stated that it would be located in a highly scenic coastal area in an area of ‘outstanding landscape value’ and would not assimilate into the particular location.

“Having regard to its prominent siting, it is considered that the development proposed to be retained and completed detracts from the character of the landscape and would, therefore, set an undesirable precedent,” the ruling stated.

Campaigners are now calling for the demolition of the property.

Connacht Tribune

You’re A Star winner’s single shows she still shines brightly

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Lucia Evans...new release showcases her vocals and her songwriting.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

Even now, when Lucia Evans’ name is mentioned, many still remember her as the 2006 winner of RTÉ’s You’re A Star – the TV talent show that garnered millions of views and, at the time, encapsulated the nation.  An outstanding vocalist and performer, the Galway-based artist has accomplished a broad and dynamic career since, collaborating with the likes of Sharon Shannon and Brian Byrne, and throwing herself into projects onstage.

What has been missing in the last decade of Lucia’s work is a catalogue of original material – but that is set to change.

This Friday, she releases Holding Onto the Fire, a piano-based ballad that showcases the power of her vocals as well as a vulnerability in her songwriting. It is a daunting step for someone who has largely shaped the creative visions of others in her work.

Lucia embarked on a writing project in 2019 and this single will see that effort come to fruition. The track itself dates back to 2020 so it has been on her mind for a long time.

“It’s just different,” she says of releasing her own work. “I suppose, with other projects, you’re taking somebody else’s baby on board and you’re really trying to get underneath the composer or visionary’s skin to see exactly what they’re trying to convey, and you do your best to do that.

“When it’s your own creation, I think the attachment is an awful lot deeper. There’s a degree of separation between yourself and a creation when you’re brought into something. When you’re the creator, it is a part of you.

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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Connacht Tribune

Hard to tackle housing crisis with nebulous vacancy stats

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin...disputing vacancy stats.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics – which can make it really hard to get a handle on how many vacant homes there are in the State.

According to census data, from the Central Statistics Office there are 180,000 of them. However, that figure has been contested; GeoDirectory data puts it at 90,000.

Then several local authorities have done their own studies of their own. In one pilot study of three local electoral areas, Dublin City Council looked at 213 homes. It confirmed that 49 of those were vacant and only 16 were confirmed long-term. That was ten per cent of the total.

During the week the Oireachtas Housing Committee published a report on urban renewal – with some very powerful recommendations. What is of more interest is its findings.

One of the witnesses, architect Mel Reynolds, estimated there were 137,000 homes vacant based on census figures. While the committee did not adopt that figure, the media certainly ran with it.

We reported that a vacant home tax would be applied to 137,000 homes throughout the State – and the Government took issue with that. It contested the 137,000 figure, with even Taoiseach Micheál Martin saying it was too high.

The Department of Finance is now completing a report with its own estimate of vacancy. It’s basing its figures on the returns for the Local Property Tax. We can conclude that the extent of vacancy is far lower than 137,000.

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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Connacht Tribune

Galway husband and Roscommon wife cheer on different sides of Connacht Final fence!

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Galway supporter Michael Bradley and his wife Roscommon supporter Siveen Bradley in Ballinasloe this week. Pic Gerry Stronge

The Bradley family in Ballinasloe have divided loyalties ahead of this Sunday’s Connacht senior football final between neighbouring counties Galway and Roscommon.

Mike Bradley, from Ballinasloe town, is a ‘stone mad’ Galway GAA fan – but his wife Siveen is from Newtown, a village three miles over the border and will be very much shouting for the Rossies.

Her nephew is Paul Carey, a rising star of Roscommon GAA, and already a legend in the Pádraig Pearses club, who could torment the home team’s defence at Pearse Stadium if he’s recovered from injury and if he’s fit and picked to play.

Though he may not feature this weekend, the 21-year-old Carey made his senior inter-county debut this season during Anthony Cunningham’s march to Division Two League success; and landed eight points for Pearses in the South Roscommon club’s first ever provincial title win in January.

Siveen, a sacristan in St Michael’s Church, and Mike, a caretaker in Canal House, live on Bridge Street and they’ll watch the provincial decider at home on television – because she could not handle the nerves of watching it live in Salthill.

“I watch the matches on telly or listen on the radio. The only reason I don’t go to the matches is I’d get too excited! I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. Even when it’s on the telly I’d be turning it off and on and texting my sister have they won because I couldn’t watch! I’m fierce bad,” laughed Siveen.

Her daughter, Siobhán, a Galway supporter, is married to a Mayo man, Seán Vahey, who live in Castlebar.

“As bad and all as I am I have a daughter married to a Mayo man! I’m up against it,” joked the proud Roscommon woman.

Read full coverage ahead of the Connacht Football Final in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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