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Connacht Tribune

Church reveals its original soul in renovation

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Stripping back an old building can be a recipe for disaster – often throwing up costly surprises and delaying progress with any development.

The community in Newbridge have had an altogether different experience though, as works continue on the restoration of St Patrick’s Church.

Back in May, works began on the church and as the plaster was stripped back and the fixtures moved, the history of the building began to reveal itself.

That’s according to Chairman of the Restoration Fund Committee, Tomás Heavey, who says that their knowledge of the church’s previous existence as a market house – and its subsequent extension – has grown since the layers were peeled back.

“We didn’t know the quality of the stonework there [in the oldest part] – that was the original building and it was an old market house. The two arches, that were in it originally, are of better quality and the third one in the middle was added subsequently.

“The Market House was built around 1840 and this wasn’t built until 25 years later. The church was a yard in front of the market – that was the original building and the landlord’s stone is a good bit better quality than the other stone,” he explains.

The difference between the two is stark – with even experienced stone masons unable to point the poor quality stone in the extension.

“The last major refurbishment was in 1977 – they did the roof and they did the ceiling at the time. The floor was put in around 1957, which is a parquet floor, and it was later covered up in carpet.

“We took the carpet up and got that polished up and when it’s done, that is the way it is going to be left. It has to be plastered on the inside and it got three coats of plaster on the outside because we had a problem with rising damp and water and all that.

“We are going to leave a gap in the plaster to show the difference in the stonework from the two different buildings. Wainscoting is also going in around the walls, we’re getting a new heating system and we’ll be getting new lighting as well,” adds Tomás.

The works on refurbishing the church have led to a renewed interest in the history of the building – a story beginning in the landed estates of East Galway.

St Patrick’s Church is quite unique in that it was originally built by a Landlady, Marcella Gerrard, who had extensive estates in Galway and Meath.

The building was unused by locals due to the unpopularity of Gerrard and when she died, her estate was left to John Fallon – a Catholic landlord in Co Roscommon.

Fallon gave the site for the construction of a church and with that, an example of imperialism became a site of worship.

See full feature in this week’s Community Matters, which this week turns the spotlight on Newbridge in the Connacht Tribune.

Next week Stephen Corrigan will be reporting from Gort – and if you want your area featured in Community Matters over the coming weeks, you can contact Stephen at stephen.corrigan@ctribune.ie

Connacht Tribune

Fuel for thought as we try and energise our wheels

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

A good few years back . . . well probably even decades . . . I remember asking quite a knowledgeable motoring correspondent, long gone to his eternal reward, about the pros and cons of staying with petrol or switching to diesel. By the time his reply had finished, nearly 20 minutes had elapsed, and I was avalanched with so much data that I was no wiser at the end of the conversation than I was at the start.

I thought of that a few weeks before Christmas when I happened to tune in to a programme on Channel 4 – Dispatches – which examined the practicalities of owning and driving an electric car across the roads of the United Kingdom.

There is a wish amongst all of us to pursue a more environmentally friendly way of life. At this stage, we all probably know someone who has purchased a fully electric car and certainly many more who have dipped their toes into the waters of the hybrid models.

Anyway, the main theme of the Dispatches programme was that after 10-years of investment by the UK authorities in the infrastructure needed to support electric cars, quite a shocking number of charging points were either out of action or were not working to their full efficiency.

Nearly 10% of the ‘rapid chargers’ sampled across the UK were found not to be working properly, while 30 new ultra-rapid charges were also found to be dysfunctional to varying degrees. Some of the charging points had been out of action for six years and a percentage of those were unrepairable as their technology base was now obsolete.

Apart from their significant extra cost – even if one qualifies for the maximum €5,000 Government grant – the great fear I would have with the electric cars is that I’d find myself marooned in a corner of Kerry or Antrim, out of ‘juice’, and unable to access a charging point.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

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.

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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

Farm buildings can be used as business hubs in rural areas

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Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind)

RURAL farm buildings should be utilised for small business enterprises which would supplement the income of landowners as well as creating some local employment in the process.

This was the view of the vast majority of Galway councillors who passed a motion that buildings directly relating to farming be considered for other purposes that would be financially advantageous to the owners.

The matter came up for discussion at a meeting of the Galway County Development Plan when it was suggested that the farming community needed to be allowed develop small business opportunities.

A motion from Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind) – deviating slightly from Galway County Council policy – proposed that they be allowed carry out businesses such as the servicing and repair of machinery, land reclamation, drainage works, and agricultural contracting was carried.

The motion added that this be allowed where it is financially advantageous to locate in a given area and where it would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

The Williamstown councillor said that it could result in hundreds of small business enterprises being developed out of farm buildings.

“At the moment they cannot get planning permission for such enterprises given that they are located in a rural area,” he argued.

He was supported by Cllr. Pete Roche (FG) who went further by saying that even the establishment of pet farms or animal farms that could be opened up to the public were also options that could be considered.

“There are farm families at the moment who cannot earn a decent living out of agriculture alone and would relish the opportunity to diversify,” he added.

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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