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Corrib infestation cuts off water to Headford homes



Date Published: 05-Nov-2009

THE infestation of Lough Corrib by the dreaded Zebra Mussle has cut off the water supply to homes in Headford.

At least six homes around Annaghkeen Bay which have been drawing water from the lake have had their water pumps and pipes destroyed by the freshwater bivalve mollusc.

One resident, Zara Brady, said her foot valve has become infested with the mussels, which have colonized the pipes and infiltrated the pressure pump. The damage means she can never again draw water from the Corrib. 


“The whole of the foot valve looks like it has been poured with concrete. The two inch thick pipe is solid with them and there is a total encrustation on the pump,” Mrs Brady said. 


The infestation is likely to have a similar affect on public and group water schemes operating on the Corrib within a very short period. 


“We really have come to the end of an era. Sixty years is a short lifetime to see the water come bubbling and sparkling out of a brand new tap, and then to be an eye witness to the irreversible changes of a lake’s ecology. 


“Zebra Mussels have already caused problems to water treatment facilities on the River Shannon. Pipes have been obstructed, water for human consumption has been tainted by the mussels because of the waste they leave behind.” 


In 2006 warning signs were erected along lakes in the region urging boat owners to clean their vessels before bringing them to the West in bid to prevent the spread of Zebra Mussels, which had by then colonised much of the Shannon-Erne waterway. 


The signs advised boat owners to remove plant life, drain bilge water and to inspect and hot wash their boat every time they changed water to get rid of young mussels, which may not be visible to the naked eye. Boats that had thumbnail-sized adult mussels attached to the hull should be scraped off and the boat left out of water for a month as the organisms can live out of water for 18 days or more. 


However the €30,000 signage campaign was in vain as the dreaded mussel was discovered to have infested a substantial area of the lake north of Oughterard. 


“Once it’s in, it’s in. There’s very little that can be done once they establish a presence,” mused the Biodiversity Officer for Galway County Council Elaine O’Riordan. 


“Once they are scraped off any sort of infrastructure, buoys, moorings, peers, there are seedlings waiting to replace them.” 


Inspector with the Western Regional Fisheries Board Kevin Crowley said the mussels have been detected right across the lake, on stones in Galway Bay, as well as in Lough Mask. Their priority now is to prevent it spreading to Lough Cara and other lakes in the region. 


There is no law preventing boats from spreading the infestation between lakes. 


“I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse. We’ve been looking for legislation to prevent the introduction of all foreign species here but have been unsuccessful.” 


While some anglers believe they are beneficial to the water as they improve visibility and fish catchability, because they filter feed and the water becomes crystal clear. Each mussel filters one litre of fresh water, which involves recycling nutrients and plankton out of the water, removing a lot of the food that fish are dependent on. 


Prolific breeders, an infestation can see 10,000 present per square metre of water. 


They cause toxic algae blooms because they avoid toxic plankton. Because the water appears clearer, more sunlight penetrates through, encouraging the growth of a lot more weeds. 


Zebra Mussels, originally from Russia, were first detected in Lough Derg on the Lower Shannon in 1997 although it is believed that they arrived there around 1994 on second-hand boats that were imported from Great Britain. 


Zebra Mussels use byssal threads to attach onto a variety of hard and soft surfaces and are readily transported upstream by boat traffic or overland on boat hulls, on nets and on equipment. They spread naturally downstream with water currents thereby allowing them to colonise lakes and slow-flowing waterways. 


In Lough Derg the Zebra mussels have attached themselves to the native mussels, causing them to starve to death because they are unable to open or close. 


At the slipway at Annaghkeen at the height of the angling season there are cars with registrations from Clare, Longford, Roscommon, Cavan, Limerick, Leitrim – all launching boats and engines into the Corrib, according to Mrs Brady. 


She never saw any that were kept out of the water or even washed. “Six years ago they should have taken serious action, like during the foot and mouth outbreak. They should not have been allowed to take any boats into the great lakes unless they had been steam cleaned and quarantined on land,” she said. 


For now the Bradys are getting their water by a connecting pipe from their farm into a local group water scheme. They will have to make more permanent arrangements to ensure their supply into the future.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

ItÕs time for my Organic Galway Ramble #4,365!



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

As regular colyoomistas will know, I’m a strangely conflicted type of bloke. The lucky owner of a full range of social skills hewn, sanded-down and polished-up during years spent hitch-hiking around the planet, I can talk to and get on with anybody from any country, social stratum and culture.

Thing is, I don’t really like to. Essentially, I’m a reformed loner. Living on my own in west Connemara and north Mayo for several years, I settled into a silent life of walking, work and talking to animals. If it wasn’t for my need to watch Chelsea games, I’d never have left the house.

Thankfully I was blessed in both houses with good friends to visit nearby, God love ‘em, preservers of my sanity, but inasmuch as I loved that life, I knew that it wasn’t good for me.

Whether you call it OCD or control freakery or just another scribbler going stir crazy, I started to behave obsessively.

My plate.

My knife and fork.

This goes there and nowhere else.

Not healthy at all, but thankfully from the inside I was able to recognise that it was a bit of a dark one-way street, so I returned to the city and engaged the human race once more.

Now I have the best of both worlds, with rural solitude during my working walking day and the Snapper for company in the evening. Her presence encourages me to behave as an almost fully-formed human, but truth be told, I get away with murder. Maybe it’s one of the benefits of married life: as mutual comfort levels increase and personal standards plunge into decline, I regress into slobdom.

Social skills are like all others; they require practice. So in an effort to polish-up my personality, I head into town for one of my Organic Galway Rambles.

Unlike sane and sensible people, the two ingredients required for my ideal night-out are a lack of people around town and, as a self-appointed honorary Galwegian, an absolute absence of firm arrangements.

Heading across Wolfe Tone Bridge, chin down into the freezing north-easterly wind, I head up onto Quay Street. The blackened glistening cobbles echo the utter emptiness of Galway’s social heart. The early night air is sodden with sideways rain, while the wind is whipping around my gonads like spaghetti around a spoon.

Lovely! Perfect! A freezing cold lashing-down Tuesday evening in January. It has been too long. Welcome home, Charlie Adley!

My anti-social ingredients increase the likelihood that there will be barstools available everywhere. Nothing worse than having to sit at a table on your own. Let me stare at the optics and space out.

But first, as ever, a feast of fish and peas in McDonagh’s. Nothing else better sets me on my way mentally, physically, spiritually prepared for anything.

Belly warm and lined, I slip onto a barstool in the front bar of the Quays, where three others are sat, having a chat. A basket of hot sausages and goujons appears. The craic is quiet and mighty all at once. A late Christmas whiskey arrives in front of me, which tastes all the sweeter, because somehow the barman knew my name.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Archive News

Ballinasloe dig deep to book date in Croker



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

Ballinasloe 2-7

An Port Mor (Armagh) 0-10


The men of Ballinasloe are on their way to Croke Park after overcoming a spirited second half fight-back from 14-man An Port Mor of Armagh in a keenly contested All-Ireland Junior Football semi-final at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday.

Seven points up against a team who had corner forward Christopher Lennon sent off late in the first half, Ballinasloe looked to be cruising to victory at the break – but ultimately they had to dig deep to see off a defiant late challenge from the Ulster champions.

Ultimately, the damage was done in the first half. St Grellan’s produced some fine football in that opening period, two goals from central attackers Padraic Cunningham and Michael Colohan giving them the seven point cushion which made all the difference in the end.

Ballinasloe will have to analyse why they lost their way somewhat in the second period but, led by Man of the Match Darragh McCormack, Paul Whelehan, Liam Lynch, Gary Canavan, and Keith Kelly, they produced some delightful football to cause all sorts of bother in the An Port Mor defence throughout the opening period.

Backed by a huge travelling support from the East Galway town, Sean Riddell’s side enjoyed a dream start as rampant corner forwards McCormack and Whelehan combined to win a free which was comfortably slotted over the bar by Kelly after two minutes.

Even better was to come three minutes later when McCormack brilliantly rounded his man before providing a perfect pass for Whelehan, who was hauled down in the penalty area. Centre forward Padraic Cunningham calmly slotted the spot kick to the bottom left hand corner and they were 1-1 to no score up with five minutes gone.


McCormack and Whelehan combined well again before Canavan set up a good score for midfielder Lynch, but An Port Mor looked to be right back in the game when corner forward Shane Nugent was fouled in the Ballinasloe penalty area with 11 minutes on the clock.

Centre forward David Curran blasted the penalty over the crossbar, however, to the relief of the large Ballinasloe following. Curran provided the next score from a short-range free, following another foul on Nugent, but the Armagh men had to wait until the 30th minute before registering their first point from open play.

Ballinasloe enjoyed a purple patch at this stage, hitting 1-3 without reply, including a brace of points from Whelehan and a well-taken score on the run from Lynch, who dominated the midfield sector.

The Connacht champions produced some sublime moves in the third quarter and could have added a second goal when the superb McCormack had a shot blocked down, after his initial effort was deflected back into his path, following good work by Lynch.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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