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Decision put back to January on GAA club’s expansion plan

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Date Published: 03-Dec-2012

By Bernie Ní Fhlatharta

A planning decision on a major expansion plan by a city GAA club to upgrade their facilities on public lands has been deferred until January.

The proposed development of planning pitches and other improvements to the facilities of St James GAA Club in Mervue divided the local community when it was first mooted earlier this year.

As the lands at Walter Macken Road are owned by Galway City Council, the process involves a ‘Part 8’ planning application, which a local authority makes to the elected members of a council, who then decide whether or not to grant the application, or make variations.

The plan in this case was put on public display and the City Council received over 170 submissions involving 760 named residents in the immediate vicinity of the site.

St James already have a 999 year lease on their clubhouse and wanted to upgrade their playing pitch and provide a juvenile pitch and a smaller astro turf pitch for training.

However, objections to this plan centred around floodlighting onto the main pitch, which was proposed to be moved nearer to Heather Grove, a residential street, high fencing around the main pitch and netting behind the goals. There were also concerns about public access onto the park being curtailed as it is a very popular amenity used by walkers. There were also issues about parking.

Last night, Ciarán Hayes, Director of Services, assured the councillors that these issues had been addressed and that the amended plan was now the one before the meeting for a decision, though there is still a six week period left for making this final decision.

A number of councillors criticised the council executives for not being more proactive in ensuring the public were fully aware of what was involved in this application and as a result, councillors voted last night to erect bigger signage declaring the planning application on future Part 8 applications and to ensure public consultation at all stages.

Local councillors such as the Mayor, Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, Declan McDonnell and Frank Fahy said that the matter had given them sleepless nights and had been one of the most difficult issues they had faced in their political careers.

The club itself was praised for its initiative but there were concerns about the lack of engagement with the local residents initially. While the club officers wished to develop the club, many local people believed that the development was going to infringe on people’s rights to enjoy what is a public park.

There was a consensus among the councillors that a meeting should be arranged between club officers and representatives of the local residents associations, along with executives of the City Council, between now and up to a week before January 14, the date to which it was decided unanimously to defer the matter.

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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