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Developers to draw up plans for Station and Docks

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Date Published: 19-Jan-2010

CONCERNS have been expressed by councillors that a developer would draw up a masterplan for Ceannt Station and the Docks instead of the planners.

And they have also questioned how the planners proposed to include more retail space in the new city development plan in those areas despite the proliferation of empty shops throughout the city.

The draft city development plan includes a clause which states that a master plan will be prepared for both sites to address critical issues, including transport requirements, urban design, maximum building heights, an appropriate mix of residential, retail and public amenities on the sites and its architectural heritage.

It was clarified at Friday’s special meeting to discuss the draft plan that it was the developer rather than the council which would create the framework plan. This would then form part of the application, which would be submitted to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) rather than to the City Council under the national Strategic Infrastructure Development Legislation. ABP would consult with the council before making its final decision to grant or refuse planning permission.

However Cllr Catherine Connolly (Ind) said CIE, the owners of Ceannt Station, had shown “utter contempt” in their refusal to come before the chamber to consult over plans for the site.

“You might as well hand over the city to the developer chosen by CIE. This company will draw up a plan with no regard to the elected members,” she remarked.

She queried why it was not the council which would draw up the plan to meet the needs of the people rather than the commercial interests of a private company.

City Manager Joe MacGrath said councillors would have an opportunity to shape the plan as ABP were obliged to consult with the council. The planners had also been in talks with CIE in recent weeks about the site.

Cllr Connolly said under the plan, more retail space would be created. However the council should instead concentrate on a strategy to fill empty retail units in the city centre and building new ones in underserviced suburbs.

“We are now justifying a plan drawn up by developers for profit to provide more retail space instead of drawing up our own. We’re playing around with words. The city is losing shop after shop, yet we’re saying we need more retail space in Ceannt Station,” she stated.

Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) said ten shops had closed between Eglinton and Francis Streets since the downturn, which did not project a good image of the city to visitors.

Cllr Colette Connolly (Lab) said the projected population of 90,000 by 2017 should be revised downwards. Planning permission for commercial and retail space should be restricted to stop the closure of established businesses.

Cllr Tom Costello (Lab) said the city centre was dying and unless the business community put forward a plan to rejuvenate the area its entire future appeared to be dependent on the success of Ceannt Station and the docks.

Cllr Niall McNelis said as a retailer himself he was certain there was enough shop units in the city.

Mayor Declan McDonnell said the developments at Ceannt Station and the harbour would bring more people to the city and create hundreds of jobs so the council should stop making negative comments about the sites.

Senior planner Caroline Phelan said unless the city responded to the demand for retail sites, businesses would leapfrog to other destinations. There was 14% retail space currently empty in the city, which was better than in Limerick and Dublin, which had 25% vacancy rates.

The plan stated there was a requirement for any redevelopment to accommodate and front-load a significantly upgraded transportation hub on the 5.8 hectare station site. This would safeguard any concerns that the transport element of the new building was not its primary purpose.

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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