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Connacht Tribune

Coole Park plan will draw tourists to South Galway

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Coole Park, the fulcrum of the Irish Literary Revival, is in line for a revival itself as part of a plan to attract more tourists to South Galway.

Fáilte Ireland, the tourism body, and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), have joined forces to create a “strategic partnership” that aims to enhance and promote the tourism offering at Coole Park Garryland Nature Reserve near Gort.

As part of the masterplan, Coole House will be rebuilt to its former glory as a centre for Irish folklore.

It would operate as, “a new independent cultural space, forging links with international cultural institutions to house internationally renowned cultural exhibits.”

That’s according to briefing documents supplied to Seán Kyne, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, which has responsibility for NPWS.

The new centre would also act as an interpretive centre for the key themes of the Gaelic Revival including: Ireland’s oral traditional of storytelling; our myth and folklore; the relationship between language, politics and religion; writers writing in Irish; the Anglo-Irish writers; and international writers.

“A sophisticated exhibition space built to international standards would allow, from time to time, a singular focus on an individual author or historical topic of interest to Irish citizens and visitors to the country,” the plans state.

Funding for the project depends on the outcome of an “overall interpretation masterplan” for all five National Parks along the Wild Atlantic Way and Coole Park.

The projects have been identified by the Department as “priorities” and Fáilte Ireland has pledged €500,000 in technical assistance.

“This includes €200,000 which will support the development of an Interpretation Masterplan for Visitor Centres at all National Parks and Coole Park,” the Department said.

The final masterplan may change to the one currently under consideration but a final proposal is due to before October.

Coole Nature Reserve is a rare wetland covering 1,000 acres in the low-lying limestone region west of Gort.

In the early 20th century, it was the centre of the Irish Literary Revival with George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge and Sean O’Casey having all visited.

The plan to revive National Park and Coole Park, is “with a view to growing tourism revenues in the rural areas where the parks are located and increasing Ireland’s appeal as a holiday destination,” the Department said.

It also aims to focus on enhancing the parks along the Wild Atlantic Way; to “leverage the collective value” of the parks; and to conserve and protect the facilities for future use.

The Department has pointed out that protected areas worldwide attracted eight billion visitors last year, bringing $600 billion annually to local economies.

Coole Park and National Parks have the potential to become “must visit” attractions and the plan will look to “combat their low-level awareness” in the international tourism market.

The information was supplied to Minister Kyne, who had requested an update on plans for the development of a tourism interpretative masterplan, which invited tenders last month.

The tenders called for the “development of a tourism interpretative master plan for Ireland’s National Park visitor centres and Coole Park Nature Reserve visitor centre.”

Minister Kyne said the NPWS recently visited Coole Park before providing an update briefing on the plans.

Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council brings in new rules on roadside memorials

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Families and friends of road accident victims will have to apply in writing to erect a roadside memorial under a specific size following the adoption of a new policy by Galway County Councillors.

The new rules will not affect memorials already erected – but if they have to be replaced, they will have to satisfy the now agreed criteria.

The Council area engineer will have to approve the location of any proposed memorial and the written consent of the landowner must be sought where possible in advance.

If friends wish to erect a memorial, they must get the written agreement of the family of the deceased. The policy now prohibits any lighting as could distract motorists and flowers or vegetation around it is now not allowed as it could block sight lines.

If the memorial is a free-standing cross it must not be higher than 750mm and if it is a free-standing stone, it must now comply with a maximum dimension of 450mm high, 450mm wide by 150mm deep.

There can only be one memorial per accident, regardless of the number of victims under the new framework created in consultation with the Gardaí and Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s (TII) Regional Safety Engineer.

Up to now there has been no policy in place regarding roadside memorials, despite the fact that hundreds dot the countryside. But their erection can cause difficulties, such as interference with verge trimming, distraction to other road users, they can attract visitors to accident blackspots and have the potential to block sight lines.

The policy states that it may not be possible to locate the memorial at the exact location of the incident and any memorials erected without the approval of the Road Authority will be removed. No roadside memorials are permitted on dual carriageways with a speed limit of 100 km/h or motorways.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full story, see the July 1 edition of the Connacht Tribune. You can purchase a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Green hub could create up to 900 new jobs

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Údarás na Gaeltachta is going full steam ahead with plans for a green energy hub at Ros an Mhíl Harbour in Conamara.

The regional authority responsible for economic growth in the Galway Gaeltacht confirmed it has appointed an international engineering firm to develop a masterplan for an offshore wind energy hub on Údaras-owned lands in Ros a’ Mhíl.

Atkins is a British firm headquartered in London, England with offices in Ireland, including Parkmore in Galway City.

The hub, according to an Údarás-commissioned feasibility study published several months ago, could support up to 900 jobs in the Conamara Gaeltacht, serving multiple floating and fixed wind farms off the west coast.

“The development of Ros a’ Mhíl as an offshore wind energy hub is likely to have a profound impact, not just on the economy of the Gaeltacht regions of Conamara and the Aran Islands but also on Ireland’s ability to lessen its energy independence,” said Údarás CEO, Micheál Ó hÉanaigh.

Earlier this year, Government signalled its support for a €25million investment in a new harbour at Ros a’ Mhíl.

This new masterplan to be carried out by Atkins will involve planning the port development, carrying out an economic assessment, and detailing the engineering and logistical requirements.

It will also involve creating a ‘Green Port Development plan’ with a view of attaining Net-Zero operations, which means cutting the greenhouse gas emissions of the harbour to as close to zero as possible.

The development lies in the heart of the Conamara Gaeltacht and Údarás said Atkins employed local Irish-speaking engineers as core team members of the project.

Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív (FF) welcomed progress of the project. “Never has it been more vital that we use our vast offshore wind resource to create renewable energy and ensure the security of our own energy supply,” he said.

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Connacht Tribune

Outdated parking meters set to be replaced

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All old pay and display parking meters throughout County Galway towns are in line to be replaced.

Galway County Council has confirmed that it was planning to replace the existing outdated machines with new ones.

It comes after the County Council’s audit committee said that the cost of maintaining the existing stock of pay and display machines was ‘extremely high’.

The audit committee also noted that there were ‘resounding issues with the outdated parking meters’ for users and for Council maintenance.

The Council said that the replacement of its parking machines inventory was ‘ongoing’.

Funding had been set aside in its capital account to replace outdated machines.

Councillor Karey McHugh (Ind) argued that technology should be introduced whereby motorists could use an app to pay for a parking space.

Director of Services, Derek Pender, said the new machines could use coins and card payments through a ‘tap and go’ system.

The software was also available for the machines to be compatible with the app Cllr McHugh had suggested, which was in operation in Limerick, Tipperary and other local authority areas.

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