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Eyre Square: court ruling could save city millions



Date Published: 25-Mar-2010

by Frank Farragher

Galway City Council has won a Supreme Court appeal – overturning the findings of a previous High Court ruling on the revamp of Eyre Square – which could have cost the city several million euro.

The Supreme Court judgment has, according to the City Council, overturned previous rulings by an arbitrator and a High Court judge in favour of the original contractor appointed to carry out the Eyre Square revamp work.

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court issued a 60 page judgment on the case, which ruled in favour of the City Council on all four grounds of its appeal.

City Manager, Joe MacGrath, said yesterday that the decision of the Supreme Court was a very positive one for the city.

“The appeal has been granted in Galway City Council’s favour. This is very good news for Galway City Council and for the city of Galway,” said Mr MacGrath.

The refurbishment of Eyre Square has been one of the most controversial issues in city politics since June 2005 when the Cork contractors appointed to carry out the work – Samuel Kingston Construction Ltd – ceased work on the site.

This followed a dispute between Kingston and the City Council over the rate of progress being made on the job and the payments which the construction firm claimed was owed to it by the local authority.

The issue initially went to conciliation before an arbitration hearing ruled in favour of the contractors. This was appealed to the High Court by the City Council and last April Mr Justice Bryan McMahon upheld the findings of the arbitrator, Geoffrey Hawker.

The City Manager, Joe MacGrath, on behalf of the City Council, then lodged a Supreme Court appeal on the four grounds of that ruling, all of which were upheld by this yesterday’s Supreme Court judgment.

A former Mayor of Galway, Cllr Padraig Conneely, had accused the City Council of “incompetence” in its handling of the Eyre Square enhancement project, claiming that the final cost of the project could rise as high as €20m. Initially the project had been costed at €1.27m.

This week, the Mayor of Galway, Cllr Declan McDonnell, described the Supreme Court decision as a vindication of the City Manager, the City Council and the councillors who had supported the appeal to the Supreme Court.

“This decision has undoubtedly saved the city a substantial amount of money – several million euro – but it also proves that we were right to appeal the earlier rulings of the arbitrator and the High Court. “Most of all, this is a very good day for the city and its citizens. It is time for us to move on and to enjoy the lovely showpiece facility that Eyre Square now is,” said Mayor McDonnell.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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



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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