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Flood-hit pub unlikely to open for months

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The Townhouse Bar on Quay Lane is one of a handful of businesses still closed in the wake of the ferocious storms which hit after Christmas.

Its roof blew off with the wind, while water poured through the front door in the floods. During the second storm, they managed to keep the floodwaters at bay only for it to seep up through the toilets and sinks.

Owner Neela McPhail says it will be May at the earliest before the venue will be opened again. All the electrics have to be replaced as do the heating and refrigerating systems, sound system, floors and fire proofing, not to mention the roof.

They are putting in flood measures to prevent a repeat of the devastation.

“I’m petrified to put an estimate on it. We’re waiting for the insurance to sign the paperwork. It will certainly be a six figure sum,” she reflected.

The flooding which occurred was a once-in-40-year event. The real issue for residents and businesses in the area is the drainage, Ms McPhail believes.

“My rates cost €500 a week. In October, November and February, you’d be lucky to turn over €2,000 in the week so there’s no possible way of sustaining that cost. People say ‘but you have a great summer’. But eight weeks doesn’t float 52 on those costs,” she remarked.

“We have got very little to no support from the Council. I asked for sandbags before the second flood – I had 40 myself sourced privately and I was told ‘who’s going to fill sandbags at this time?’.

“I had an absolute, complete and utter fit when they turned around and gave us 35 sandbags between five businesses. You pay your bins, you pay to clean up the street, you pay your rates and your water and they don’t even give you sandbags.”

She recalled how the Council responded to her complaints about a smell from the sewerage by sending out a man armed with a one litre bottle of drain cleaner.

When she kicked up a stink, they eventually sent out six engineers at the beginning of last Summer to flush the entire building with smoke bombs in order to see where the leaks were coming from. None of the pipes below the building are sealed.

“I never had a problem with the smell of urine after that. There is an issue with the drainage that needs sorting under this area. The need to drag the river, clean the drains and install underground pumps at the edge of the river and the docks that pump ferociously towards the water to stop it coming in so far.”

Now that she has time on her hands for the first time in years, Ms McPhail decided to turn a negative into a positive.

There are still families across South Galway and in Connemara and Spiddal who cannot return home due to the floods. She has organised a fundraiser for the Red Cross, which is coordinating a relief effort for people most in need, the vast majority of them suffering financial hardship because of being unable to get flood insurance cover.

“The tears are over. I have to think that there are people a lot worse off than us. I understand the stress caused by the storms and floods in a business sense but I have a home to go to at the end of the day. I couldn’t fathom the stress of being out of your home.”

The event takes place at the Rower’s Club in Woodquay on Saturday, March 1. Music by Rachel Sermanni The Voice Squad, Peadar King, Mo Kenny, Mikey & the Scallywags and My Fellow Sponges. All acts will perform acoustically.

There will be a huge array of prizes up for grabs in a raffle, which have been donated by local businesses. Tickets cost €15. Check out Galway Flood Benefit on Facebook.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’

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From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.


The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.


This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.


He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees

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From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”


This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.


The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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CITY TRIBUNE

City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours

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From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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