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Connacht Tribune

Elderly couple’s fear from smouldering forest fire

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An elderly couple are living in fear that their home could be destroyed by a forest fire which has been smouldering for the past six weeks.

The East Galway couple have hit out at Coillte for not implementing the fire prevention measures to stop the blaze from spreading to neighbouring properties.

Paddy and Teresa Jennings have more than 70 acres under trees around their home near Killure, just a few miles from Ballinasloe, but a nearby Coillte forest has ignited during the recent dry spell.

The fire has been blazing for the past six weeks and has encroached on to neighbouring properties whose residents are keeping a round the clock vigil to ensure that their homes are not under threat.

Paddy Jennings told the Connacht Tribune that the fire on the Coillte forestry spread across around 15 acres and he expressed disappointment that the state agency hadn’t taken all steps to stop it spreading.

The couple, who are in their late seventies, say that they cannot leave their home because of the threat of the fire spreading.

“It is smouldering at the moment but any bit of wind could set it off again. It is a constant worry and has been for the past six weeks.

“We have been onto Coillte and it seems that they are not taking us seriously. We want them to put in fire breaks but they have only put in a very narrow one.

“The fire was very aggressive to begin with but it has slowed down over the past couple of weeks. It is still a major worry as the wind is expected to blow over the coming days which is a source of concern,” Paddy added.

The parents of three have spent a considerable amount of money in the provision of water tankers while they also have a digger on standby in the event of the blaze spreading.

During the dry spell over the past five week there there have been a number of gorse fires but the blaze across the bogs of Ahascragh are amongst the worst witnessed by locals.

The Jennings say that Coillte have no interest in putting fire breaks between the forestry and their property that is literally in the line of fire.

At the moment they have a tanker of water in their farmyard for fear of the fire spreading in their direction.

Roscommon-Galway TD Mick Fitzmaurice has visited their farm over the past few of days and has witnessed the pall of smoke from the Coillte lands spreading over to the Jennings property.

Cllr Michael Finnerty from Ballinasloe said that the state agency should not allow bog forestry fires to get out of control. He added that funding should be available to provide relief measures when required.

“From my understanding Coillte are turning a blind eye to this situation when they should maintain a permanent presence at the site to ensure that the fire does not spread,” the Fine Gael councillor added.

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Connacht Tribune

Hospitality group raises €90k

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Lorraine Gallagher (left) and Charlene Hurley of Galway Hospice presented with a cheque for €27,537 by Brian Lynch and Eveanna Ryan of Connacht Hospitality.

The Connacht Hospitality Group this week announced that they raised more than €90,000 for a range of good Irish causes throughout 2022.

The group, which owns well-known Galway establishments including The Connacht Hotel, An Púcán, HYDE Hotel, Residence Hotel and 1520 Bar, as well as the Galway Bay Golf Resort, held a range of events at various stages of 2022 to fundraise for Claddagh Watch Patrol, the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI), Galway Hospice and Make-A-Wish Ireland.

The announcement of over €90,000 worth of funds raised by the Connacht Hospitality Group for national and local charities comes off the back of the past 12 months which saw the group aim to make Corporate Social Responsibility a core part of their identity. This focus allowed them to become more aware of the causes that need assistance while also raising the profile of many of the charities.

The group arranged a diverse array of events to raise funds, and had lots of imaginative ways of grabbing the public’s attention. One event saw people attend HYDE Bar to savour a menu made by a mystery celebrity. In the end, it was revealed that TV personality Gráinne Seoige was the Executive Chef on a night that generated over €8,000 for the NBCRI.

Another event saw staff take part in a ‘Sunrise Swim’ in Salthill – and the public donated in their droves. All money raised went towards Claddagh Watch Patrol, an organisation that works to make Galway’s waterways safer by preventing accidental death and suicide.

One of the most successful fundraisers was the Galway Bay Golf Resort’s Golf Classic, which raised over €22,000 for Galway Hospice.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Residents in fear of gangs travelling to rural Galway to burgle homes

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Detective Superintendent Shane Cummins.

Residents in rural County Galway are living in fear of being burgled after one small area suffered at least 10 raids in the month of January.

Councillor Mary Hoade told a meeting of the County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) this week that those figures were for around Headford alone, as she called for additional resources to target travelling crime gangs visiting the county.

“Some of these burglaries are taking place in the morning when people go to work; some are in the evening; and others at night. It’s very frightening.  We recognise that these criminals are coming into the county, but we need more support to fight crime,” said Cllr Hoade.

“Rural garda stations have less resources . . . we’re relying on the resources in the nearest town,” she continued.

The Fianna Fáil councillor said gardaí couldn’t be everywhere at once, but communities needed to act as their eyes and ears and report suspicious activity when they see it. Detective Superintendent Shane Cummins (pictured) told the JPC that Galway was being targeted from time to time by travelling gangs.

“Three different gangs visited the county on one day recently,” said Det Supt Cummins.

Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) said she believed increased CCTV and automatic number plate recognition cameras – to capture known gangs on tour – should be rolled out.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

IDA Ireland’s €10m land purchase backs Oranmore for industry base

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Former Mayor of County Galway, Liam Carroll.

IDA Ireland has trebled its footprint on the outskirts of Oranmore by purchasing more than 100 acres of land to support industry.

It’s understood the semi-state body purchased some 42.9 hectares on the outskirts of Oranmore, for a price in excess of €10 million.

The strategic purchase of land adjacent to some 21 hectares zoned ‘business and technology’ and already owned by the IDA, was a “major vote of confidence” in Oranmore and Galway, according Cathaoirleach of the Athenry/Oranmore Municipal District, County Councillor Liam Carroll (FG).

It brings the total amount of land owned by the IDA in the area to over 150 acres.

This latest parcel, purchased at the end of 2022, is located off the N67 Claregalway Road, to the north and east of the Galway to Dublin Rail line.

“It would be ideally suited and attractive to a major multinational company or companies for the establishment of a high tech, pharmaceutical or medical device type facility,” Cllr Carroll said.

The entire site of 150-plus acres is close to the M6 motorway, and an hour away from international links, Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport in Knock.  It is also close to a number of potential Park & Ride sites, identified by the National Transport Authority as being suitable for commuters.

It’s understood the land is zoned agricultural and would require a material alteration to the County Development Plan to be voted on by county councillors, in order for it to be rezoned before 2028.

(Photo: Cllr Liam Carroll, who believes the land could be developed for a tech or pharmaceutical hub).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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