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Connacht Tribune

Community joins forces to tackle invasive plant species



A community in Connemara has declared war on weed. Letterfrack Tidy Towns Committee has joined forces with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to rid Connemara National Park of invasive plant species.

Three invasive species have been discovered within the national park, including Lesser Knotweed (Persicaria campanulata), Giant Rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria) and Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum). They are also present in Letterfrack village nearby.

“Each of these poses its own particular challenge and requires a specific plan of action to control, manage and, where possible and practicable, eradicate,” said Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

A plan has been developed by NPWS and Letterfrack Tidy Towns to eradicate Lesser Knotweed in the village and national park.  Minister Humphreys said this species is “not considered a major threat”, and due to the small area involved, “costs will be minimal and total eradication is expected”.

A small number of Giant Rhubarb plants has been discovered within the national park and in the adjacent village. The Tidy Towns committee has included it in its plan to eradicate invasive species.

Minister Humphrey’s said, “it is expected that the costs involved will be low, being limited mainly to the cost of the herbicides used.”

She said that the threat posed by Rhododendron is far greater a risk in the park, and if it’s not treated it can have implications including replacing native plants.

“Rhododendron occurs in important habitats in Connemara National Park such as oak woodlands, bogs and heath, and is considered a problematic invasive species,” she said.

“My Department carries out an annual targeted programme of works to manage the spread of Rhododendron in the park. The extent of the problem varies from area to area within the park and, having regard to the very dynamic nature of this invasive species, the targeted management programme is routinely monitored and adjusted with a view to ensuring optimum efficacy.

If left unchecked, this invasive species can grow in dense thickets and replace native shrub, exclude native vegetation, and constrain native woodland regeneration. The management programme has made significant inroads into the problem and large areas of previously infested areas are now clear of the plant.”

Minister Humphreys said some €13,000 has been spent since 2012 on Rhododendron clearance in Connemara National Park.

She said that the ultimate plan is to eradicate Rhododendron ponticum from all national parks – the annual Rhododendron management programme is intended to create conditions in the Park that are conducive to the protection and re-establishment of native species and, particularly, our native woodlands.

Minister Humphreys praised the local community for their efforts in helping to eradicate invasive species.

“My Department is committed to continuing this important and challenging work into the future. I would like to recognise the important contribution of volunteer groups to this work, and also to acknowledge the excellent work of my Department’s staff in Connemara National Park who, along with their colleagues in National Parks around the country, have been instrumental in developing new methods to increase the effectiveness of our efforts to control this plant and other invasive species,” she added.

She was responding to a parliamentary question submitted by Galway West TD, Noel Grealish.

Connacht Tribune

Eyrecourt tune makes it to Hollywood in Jig time



A tune composed to celebrate the twinning of Eyrecourt in south-east Galway with Gouesnach in France is to feature in a new film.

Written by Niall Crehan, ‘The Eyrecourt Jig’ made quite a splash when it was released in 2013 and is still popular in music sessions up and down the country.

Niall had been commissioned to write the tune for the 20th anniversary of the twinning of the two villages, Eyrecourt and Gouesnach.

So, when he had a small part as a fiddler in a TV film called Royal Rendevouz, he started playing the jig.

The producers were so impressed, they added it to the movie soundtrack and it will appear in the credits.

Niall is a member of a celebrated traditional Irish musical dynasty hailing originally from County Clare.

He is the youngest son of whistle and concertina player Vincent Crehan and nephew of renowned fiddler Junior Crehan.

Niall and his brother Kieran ran the Dublin shop Crehan Musical instruments until his early retirement.

Now living in Kildare, Niall is a cousin of publican Mick Crehan, who runs the renowned folk pub in the west end of Galway, The Crane.

Niall and the large army of musicians in the extended family are regular guests.

His brother Dermot got music playing parts on films such as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and he managed to get Niall onto the likes of Downton Abbey.

This latest TV project is the latest foray into the world of film, explains his son Brian.

The story centres on an American chef who is invited to an Irish manor to cook a feast in order to convince the matriarch not to sell the home.

It premieres on Sunday, February 26 at 9pm on the E! Network starring Isabella Gomez, Ruairi O’Connor and Ronan Raftery.

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Connacht Tribune

‘No show’ TDs criticised at County Galway policing committee meeting



A county councillor has launched a stinging criticism of Oireachtas members for their repeated failure to attend County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meetings.

At a meeting of the JPC on Monday, Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher (photographed) said he believed it was time the three TDs on the committee decided if they wanted to remain, or give their place up to someone who would make use of it.

“I am asking the Council to write out to our Oireachtas members and ask them do they want to be on this JPC or not, and if not, let someone else be on it,” blasted the Fine Gael councillor.

This followed repeated non-appearances from TDs representing the Oireachtas on the committee – the three representatives are Deputy Noel Grealish (Ind), Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) and Deputy Catherine Connolly (Ind).

Cllr Maher said the JPC, which sits around five times per year, was deliberately held on a Mondays to facilitate Oireachtas members who were in the Dáil later in the week. He said there were issues being raised regularly that required raising at a national level and it was incumbent on national representatives to bring those matters back to Dublin.

One such issue was the use of CCTV in the pursuit of illegal dumpers and travelling crime gangs, said Cllr Maher who is Cathaoirleach of the County Council.

“I would like our members of the Oireachtas to be taking the message back on CCTV,” he added, as representatives locally were getting no further as a result of data protection laws.

None of the three Oireachtas members were present for this week’s meeting. Chair of the JPC, Cllr Jim Cuddy, confirmed he had received an apology from Deputy Catherine Connolly.

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Connacht Tribune

New Chief Executive for Galway County Council



The new Chief Executive of Galway County Council is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Liam Conneally, who is Director of Services for Economic Development at Clare County Council, is understood to be the preferred candidate following an interview process and has been offered the post.

His appointment will have to be ratified by councillors at an upcoming meeting of Galway County Council.

He will replace Jim Cullen, who was Acting CE for a number of years.

The last permanent CE of the local authority was also a Clare native, Martina Moloney who retired in 2014.

Since then, Kevin Kelly initially and then Jim Cullen have been acting in the roles.

According to his LinkedIn page, Liam Conneally was a senior planner at Limerick City and County Councils for almost three years before taking up the Director of Services role in Clare in 2016.

He was educated at University of Limerick and Queen’s University Belfast.

A native of Ennistymon, he is steeped in the GAA.

“He’s done a very good job in Clare; he’s very dynamic and forward-looking, he will be a good choice for Galway County Council,” said a source familiar with Mr Conneally, and the interview process.

Government completed a review in 2021 about whether it was going to appoint someone permanently into the CE role, which was filled on a temporary/acting basis for almost nine years.

It’s understood that officials in Dublin had delayed filling the role as they wanted to push for an amalgamation of both Councils.

The amalgamation, however, was rejected by local politicians, and has since been put on the back burner.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, is due to retire this year. It’s understood his deputy CE, Patricia Philbin will take the role in an acting capacity until an interview process is completed.

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