One of the hidden tourism gems of the River Shannon – the Meelick Weir Walkway that links Galway and Offaly – is set to be restored to life next year after being out of commission since the floods of late 2009.
A figure of almost €2.5 million has been allocated by Waterways Ireland for the revamp of the Weir, which will once more, link the villages of Meelick in East Galway and Lusmagh in West Offaly.
The ‘good news’ that the €2.5 million project had received the go-ahead was given on the banks of the Shannon beside the weir to a local committee last Thursday by Waterways Ireland Regional Manager, Eanna Rowe, who confirmed that the project would be going out to tender later this month.
President of the local restoration committee, Nancy Reilly, also presented Mr. Rowe with a letter stressing the importance of completing the works during the coming Summer season of 2019.
Charlie Killeen, Chairman of the Meelick/Lusmagh Walkway Restoration Committee, told the Connacht Tribune that confirmation of the project going to tender was very welcome news for the local communities.
“We have the two Martello towers, the Red Bridge, and the Victorian Lock, among other attractions, that will be brought back to life with access restored for locals and tourists who want to use this beautiful walkway across the Shannon.
“This is wonderful news for the area but one point I want to stress is that we need this work to be completed during the ‘Summer window’ of May 1 to September 1, 2019 – otherwise the re-opening would slip back another year to Autumn of 2020,” said Charlie Killeen.
Work on the Meelick Weir can only be carried out during that Summer period because of fisheries protection measures relating to the salmon spawning season.
Earlier this year, the campaign to get the Meelick Weir restoration project back on the priority list, was stepped up by community representatives from the Meelick and Lusmagh areas.
Over recent months, the Meelick Walkway Restoration Committee embarked on an extensive lobbying campaign, involving communications with Waterways Ireland, local politicians and Government departments.
Disaster struck for the Weir back in November of 2009, when the severe flooding of that period resulted in damage being caused to the walkway and its supports – since then, it has been closed to public access.
Charlie Killeen said that it was ‘the dream’ of local people in the Meelick and Lusmagh areas that the re-opening of the walkway would coincide with a local feast day in the Meelick area.
“Traditionally, August 2 of each year has been a prayer day at Meelick Church, which we believe is the oldest church in Ireland in continuous use, dating back to the Middle Ages.
“There has been a tradition of people from Lusmagh walking across the Weir to the old monastery and it really would be something special to the local communities if the walkway was reopened to coincide with this tradition,” said Charlie Killeen.
He said that the opening date for the walkway – and the need for a commitment that the work be started in early May of next year – were now the only concerns that local people had.
“But at least the money is there; the job is going to tender – now the priority is to get it done on time,” said Charlie Killeen.
He said that the restoration job itself should only take in the region of five to seven weeks. “The starting date is the only outstanding issue now,” he added.
Connacht Tribune tributes to loved ones
These past few months have seen so many communities left to silently mourn family members and friends, whose funerals they would have attended in such numbers, were it not for the current Covid-19 restrictions.
But those that are gone have not been, and will not be, forgotten – which is why we want to open the pages of the Connacht Tribune to you to tell their stories.
If you’ve lost a loved one, whether to Covid-19 or not, or if your community or organization or sports club is mourning the death of a valued member and friend, you can email us your tribute and we will publish it in our papers.
All you have to do it to click on the above link, and it will take you to a short set of questions which you can fill in – and then add whatever you feel tells the story of the life of your friend, family member or colleague.
You can email that with a photograph to us, to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can post it to ‘Obituaries’, Connacht Tribune, 21 Liosban Business Park – and please enclose a contact number in case we have any queries.
We sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one at this awful time, particularly given that so many people were unable to mourn with them and their family in person – and we hope that this will help in some small way to show those family members that we are all united in grief, even from a distance.
This is an additional feature we are providing alongside our long-established weekly Family Notices section where loved ones are remembered immediately by Months Mind Notices and annual anniversary remembrances. You can contact our team for further details at email@example.com
Alison’s Euro Award for Covid information project
The Galway-established online course providing information about coronavirus in more than 70 languages – reaching over 350,000 people worldwide – is among 23 projects from the EU and the UK recognised for their outstanding contribution to fighting COVID-19 and its disastrous consequences.
The European Economic and Social Committee has awarded the Civil Solidarity Prize to the Irish learning platform Alison – founded by social entrepreneur Mike Feerick and based in Loughrea – for its free online course which was developed and published at the very start of the pandemic to educate as many people as possible about the virus, its spread and its effects.
The EESC, an advisory body representing Europe’s civil society at the EU level, selected the learning platform Alison as the best Irish candidate for the Prize, saying that its project “Coronavirus: What you need to know” stood out as a shining example of solidarity and civic responsibility during the COVID-19 crisis.
The online course was launched in February 2020 when the knowledge about the virus was still very scarce and the governments were still struggling with how to respond to the looming crisis.
With its training programme, based on WHO and CDC guidelines and continuously updated to include the latest information, the Irish platform has given people free access to potentially life-saving knowledge.
Translated in less than four months into more than 70 languages, with the help of 5,000 volunteers many of whom were immigrants, it had been completed by approximately 350,000 people as of September 2020. Some 100,000 people signed up for it in a single day.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www/connachttribune.ie
Covid a whole different ball game for Galway camogie nurse
Galway camogie star Emma Helebert doesn’t shy away from a question about Covid-19 anti-vaxxers and their online conspiracy theories.
“Personally, since this pandemic has hit, I’m allergic to social media over the whole thing,” she says.
A midwife at University Hospital Galway, the 2019 All-Ireland winner agrees that vaccines involve personal choice.
But that choice should be informed by trusted sources of information, such as the HSE or NHS websites – and not random often nefarious and anonymous contributors on social media.
“There are more reliable sources of information than turning to places like Facebook or whatever online forums are talking about it,” she says.
“What’s scaring people more than the actual thought of the vaccines is these opinions that are being forced down people’s throats and they’re seeing it every time they go on Facebook and scrolling on social media.
“My only advice to people who are scared is to do your own research. Go to the reliable sources of information and don’t believe what you see on Facebook.
“Unfortunately, there are people out there who create pages that are full of negativity or full of lies. It only takes one scary thought or piece of information you’ve heard to cling to you that’ll make you not want to get it,” she adds.
Read the full interview with Emma Helebert in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie