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Connacht Tribune

Former hotel set for new chapter as nursing home

Enda Cunningham

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Plans to demolish the derelict Cloonabinnia House Hotel in Moycullen, to make way for a nursing home with more than 90 bedrooms, have been lodged with Galway County Council.

Owners Peter and Bernadette Moran have sought permission to demolish the former hotel and asylum-seeker hostel on the 3.1-acre site near Ross Lake, which closed down in 2008.

The plans involve the construction of a two-storey nursing home with 91 bedrooms, parking for 51 cars, restoration and renovation of three fire-damaged apartments as staff accommodation.

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has expressed concerns about bats on the site and the need to protect them and told the local authority that a bat derogation licence must be in place before any work takes place, if permission is granted by the Council.

According to the planning application: “This building was erected in the 1970s and is of a generally poor standard of construction and neither does it have the facilities to provide modern hotel facilities such as swimming pool, leisure centre, etc. It ceased to operated as a hotel in 2005 and has had a varied history:
■ guesthouse/hotel until 1985
■ nursing home 1984-1988
■ hotel 1989-2005
■ hostel for asylum seekers 2005-08

“There are also three dwelling units on the site. These were burnt in recent years and it is proposed to restore them as staff accommodation. These units will be retained in the same ownership as the nursing home.

“The building has now been standing vacant for many years. There is, in the current market, no realistic prospect of the hotel re-opening because of its poor quality and inadequate facilities which are not of a standard that is expected today.

“In addition, the recent spate of hotel construction under government tax incentive schemes has led to a surplus of hotel capacity,” the application reads.

The plans include a medical centre, specialist short-term convalescent accommodation of 30 beds, an oratory, library, social rooms, internal and external leisure areas and restaurant.

A bat survey found the main hotel is a roosting site during winter and summer for six bat species, including the protected ‘lesser horseshoe bat’ species, and the woodland and lakeshore were identified as important foraging areas for the bats.

According to a Natura Impact Statement submitted with the application: “Robust and effective mitigation measures have been proposed during the construction and operational stages of the project for the avoidance of impacts to Lough Hoe Bog SAC (Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive) and the River Moy SAC.

“The implementation of best practice and construction design measures and site-specific mitigation, in particular those mitigation and design measures outlined for all bat species, will avoid potential impacts to lesser horseshow bat.

“The proposed drainage and wastewater treatment processes will ensure that potential impacts to the receiving environment will not receive untreated wastewater,” the impact statement reads.

A submission – signed by 20 local residents – called on the County Council to ensure the development is not inappropriate given the remote location “distant from services in the local towns and villages” and that it would not increase the risk of an accident on the narrow country road which serves it.

Locals also had concerns that it could negatively impact on the Special Area of Conservation, and whether there would be sufficient capacity in the water supply system.

A submission from the operator of the Teaghlach Uilinn nursing home in Moycullen noted that their 77-bed nursing home has been “well below capacity” over the last number of years.

“There has been a decline in residents over a period which we believe to be attributable to having more than an adequate supply of beds in the vicinity and also the increased prevalence of homecare services.”

The submission also points out that Mowlam Healthcare operate a 54-bed nursing home in Moycullen, and a third would render one of the three nursing homes economically unviable in the short-term.

“Whilst the narrative is that the country is short of nursing home beds, this is true based on the CSO statistics, but this only applies to large urban areas and specific rural locations. Moycullen currently has a nursing home capacity that is thirteen times the national average.

Mowlam Healthcare objected to the Council on the grounds that the development is located on the shoreline of Ross Lake and to allow it to proceed “would represent a complete disregard for this water resource” and pointing out the local authority has a duty to preserve the character of the local landscape.

Connacht Tribune

Student nurses face all the risk – for no reward

Dara Bradley

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Working on the children’s ward of a busy hospital during a global pandemic is no joke; less funny still when you’re not getting paid for your toil.

All the risk and none of the rewards of qualified staff – that’s the lot of Edel Moore, a student nurse who is currently on placement at University Hospital Galway.

Edel, and hundreds of student nurses like her on placement in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, want more than a round of applause and platitudes from Government.

“None of us want a pat on the back for struggling. We’d just like to be recognised,” she said.

“The Government are full-time talking about front-line workers, and they want to give them a ‘clap hands’. Then you see Junior Ministers getting massive raises. For what? What have they done for us, the student nurses, that they’re getting a €16,000 wage increase?

“We’ve put ourselves through a four year degree but all I’m worth is a clap? Thanks! It’s ridiculous. They say that front-line workers deserve all the help they can get but it just seems that the ones who are able to give us the help we need are not going to give us the help that we deserve.”

Edel Moore is a mature student originally from Westmeath but living in Leitir Mealláin in Connemara with her husband and three children.

A third year student nurse of NUIG, she is currently on placement at the paediatric ward at UHG.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Island museum gets the green light

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Inishbofin museum.

Work is expected to begin shortly on the construction of a museum on Inishbofin after planners gave the green light to the project.

The museum at Middlequarter is being developed by local historian and photographer Marie Coyne – and when completed, it will be home to items of historical significance from both Inishbofin and Inishark.

There is an existing museum on the island but it is too small to house the amount of artefacts, photographs and family histories that have been assembled over the years.

The new building will also include a photographic exhibition room, restoration workshop along with a gift shop and coffee dock. It is proposed that the new 3,400 square feet museum will be built on a site at the rear of Ms Coyne’s home.

Eamon Gavin of Eamon Gavin Architects based in Cornamona told the Connacht Tribune that this was an important project for the island and it was a welcome decision.

And he said that the green light would kickstart the process of conserving the vast and unique artefacts and archives built up over the years.

“As a practice, we have a long history of dealing with planning consultancy on unique rural sites in Connemara and the islands, therefore we fully understood how sensitive the proposed location of the project would be – the site is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Heritage Area,” he said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam woman a picture of health a year after Covid crisis

Declan Tierney

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Tuam's Kitty Farrell with her dog Lulu a year after her Covid diagnosis.

Last year was a Mother’s Day like no other for Kitty Farrell who spent it in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital with Covid – but the 80 year old Tuam woman can look forward to a more sedate celebration this time out….thankfully restored back to full health.

Kitty, from Ballygaddy Road, had developed a debilitating cough the previous week – and when she was admitted to UHG on Mother’s Day, she tested positive for the coronavirus despite a lack of symptoms.

The retired businesswoman spent the next nine days seriously ill in isolation – and all alone as her four children could not visit her.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come through it but I was so sick that at times, it didn’t really matter. But the thought of passing away in isolation made a bad situation even worse,” Kitty said at the time.

A year on, she is back to full health, and while she restricts her movements, Kitty told The Connacht Tribune that she is just happy to be alive and she spends her days ‘pottering about’ and looking forward to the arrival of family members.

“Even though I don’t particularly agree with the current lockdown because everyone should be responsible for their own behaviour, I am living a life of relative isolation at the moment,” she said.

Read Kitty’s full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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