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‘Birdman’ takes to the skies over Galway



He’s the ‘bird from the sky’ who has intrigued onlookers in the South Park area for the past couple of weeks in his powered paraglider.

The pilot is Polish native Jacek Chonanowski who has been involved in aviation since 1977 and who regularly does trips across the West of Ireland including the Burren.

“What we need is a clear day and calm conditions and we must always look at the weather forecasts,” Jacek told the Sentinel.

Galway Flying Club have confirmed that as a precautionary measure they have made contact with ‘the parachute man’ purely as a safety procedure, in the context of their own plane flights.

Jacek over Long Walk last weekend (Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy)

Jacek over Long Walk last weekend (Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy)

The power paraglider can fly up to 1,000 feet and makes regular trips from Oranmore to South Park.

According to Jacek, his paraglider is powered by a 172cc engine with a 10 litre fuel capacity – he also said that he wanted to reassure the public that he is widely experienced in all aspects of gliding and paragliding for nearly the past 40 years.

“There are times when I would glide close to the surface but that’s when I’m coming in over the sea. I would not do that in areas where there are houses,” said Jacek.

He also said that he had been in touch with the aviation authorities in Shannon as regards his aerial activity but pointed out that paragliding was not properly regulated in Ireland with some inexperienced people in the air.

Jacek also confirmed that the Galway Flying Club had been in touch with him, and he makes regular contact with them before his ‘flights’.

Our photographer Joe O’Shaughnessy caught Jacek's descent on Saturday evening last at dusk as he prepared for another successful landing in South Park.

Our photographer Joe O’Shaughnessy caught Jacek’s descent on Saturday evening last at dusk as he prepared for another successful landing in South Park.

In the Paraglide West website, they warn that ‘paragliding is a dangerous sport that contains elements of risk’.

They advise that accidents in ‘paragliding tandem flights’ are possible due to stumbling or wrong reaction during take-off or landing.

They also advise passengers to wear proper footwear with ankle protection as well as warm winterproof clothing.

Paraglide West can be contacted through their website or on 085 2838844.

In terms of regulation, the IAA (Irish Aviation Authority) are the body in charge of any issues relating to the use of powered paragliders.

Powered parachutes, often known as PPCs, are considered the cheapest way to ‘get into the air’ and are normally flown at heights of between 500 and 1,500 feet with a maximum flying time of about three hours.


Cost of new Emergency Dept in Galway jumps to half a billion euro



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The projected cost for the new Emergency Department and maternity unit at University Hospital Galway (UHG) has now reached half a billion euro.

And the bureaucracy involved in getting it off the ground means its expected completion has been pushed back until 2027 at the earliest.

The project – described by the head of the Saolta University Healthcare Group, Tony Canavan, as the single largest infrastructural health project ever to be built in the West – still has some major hurdles to overcome before a shovel is put into the ground.

In an update at this week’s HSE Regional Health Forum West meeting, Councillor Declan McDonnell (IND) remarked that 2026 was the predicted opening for the new facility, yet the planning application had not even been submitted.

“Could it be ten more years?” he asked.

Councillors heard that a new Public Spending Code was brought in for projects predicted to cost over €100 million after the Saolta group had submitted a cost benefit analysis review which they were required to do under the old rules.

As a result of the change, management had to belatedly prepare a Strategic Assessment Report and a ‘Preliminary Business Case’ report. The first had been submitted to the national HSE last month and the latter was almost ready to send to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Assistant National Director of Estates in the HSE, Joe Hoare, said the final figure for the project would be “four to five times the €100m figure”.

(Photo: The temporary Emergency Dept under construction at the moment at UHG)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Street closures for outdoor dining in Galway challenged to An Bord Pleanála



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – An appeal has been lodged with An Bórd Pleanála challenging the legitimacy of road closures to facilitate hospitality businesses in Galway City this summer.

Galway City Council, following on from last year’s trial of on-street hospitality, introduced street closures again this year.

It is part of the Council’s ‘outdoor living’ strategy to encourage more footfall and to boost businesses – in particular pubs and restaurants – in the city centre.

The local authority has closed Small Crane, Raven Terrace, Dominick Street Upper, William Street West, Forster Street and Woodquay during certain hours in the evenings from May to October.

But a resident of Munster Avenue has referred the closures to An Bórd Pleanála and asked that it determine whether the closures constitute development and whether or not it is ‘exempted development’.

Exempted development does not require planning permission. If the Board finds that the closures are development and that the development was not ‘exempted’, then the street closures and the process they were introduced under, could be undermined and deemed to be contrary to planning laws.

An Bórd Pleanála confirmed the case had been referred to it for adjudication but it said it does not comment on ‘live’ cases. It is due to make a decision by September. The appellant who referred the case could not be contacted for comment.

Johnny Duggan, owner of Taylor’s Bar, member of West End Traders’, and chair of the Galway City Vintners’ Association, insisted the street closures were exempted development did not require planning permission and it was all above board.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


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Two tonnes of waste in canal – ‘the cost of outdoor living’ in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two tonnes of waste removed from the Claddagh Basin and Eglinton Canal during a clean-up last weekend is the cost of the pandemic transition to outdoor lifestyles, according to a Galway City Council official.

“Unfortunately, there has been an environmental cost to the outdoor lifestyles adopted during the pandemic. From the recent clean-up, we took out a huge amount of pint glasses, beer and wine bottles, bikes and even shopping trolleys. We all need to do our bit and use the bins provided in the city and not throw anything into the watercourses,” said Tiarnan McCusker, Environmental Awareness Officer for the Council.

Mr McCusker said that during the pandemic there was a “huge increase” in litter across the country, including in Galway City.

In response to this, the Council installed more bins in locations across the city and increased the size of the bins.

Mr McCusker attributed the amount of waste to the groups gathering outdoors during the pandemic.

“A lot of people were out drinking and congregating in the canals and generating a huge amount of waste by throwing things into them,” he said.

Councillor Niall McNelis – who is also chair of the Galway Tidy Towns Committee – said: “We want to make sure that these areas are well cleaned, and it’s not just a matter of the magicians that come in every morning and clean up the city when were all asleep in bed and clean up the mess from the night before. It takes a speciality to go into the water to clean up what they’ve done, and they’ve done an amazing job.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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