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‘Fort Eyre’ developer plans rejuvenation of Shantalla Road

Denise McNamara



The developer of an historic Georgian House and spire tower in Shantalla now plans to bring back an adjacent derelict row of houses to their former glory.

Returning emigrant Michael Gibbons purchased Fort Eyre for €1.36m last year from liquidators. Tom McEvaddy of Nexus Homes had carried out the initial renovation of the three buildings in 2007, which involved converting the period house, the tower block and townhouses into 12 luxury apartments which were worth more than €5 million at the height of the property boom.

A native of the Westside, Michael overcame considerable tragedy to get involved in the building game. He was the sole survivor of a helicopter crash in Derrybrien in 2005. Pilot Damien Bergin and publican Mark Reilly both lost their lives in the accident.

Michael, who was 34 at the time, sustained head and other severe injuries in the crash. A subsequent court case was told he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and considerable guilt over surviving the accident. He was awarded over a million euro in damages.

He emigrated to the US, where he attended Columbia University to study psychology.

He returned to Galway last August after the purchase of Fort Eyre to upgrade the apartments and carry out an overhaul of the spire tower. He returned the grand old dame of Shantalla to its former glory by clearing the grounds after years hidden behind a high wall and tall trees.

In a brochure for rental of the apartments, local resident Ann Leydon said actress Siobhán McKenna grew up in the adjoining Hansberry House, which fronts onto Shantalla Road and is one of Galway City’s finest example of Georgian architecture.

The building was originally connected to the Eyre family of Eyre Square, who came to Galway from Wiltshire in the mid seventeen century.

Brothers Edward Hedges Eyre and Robert Hedges Eyre managed all the Eyre Estates in Eyre Square and Eyrecourt until Edward fled back to London leaving a trail of debt in his wake. Robert took over the estates and Fort Eyre was leased to his nephew Edward Eyre Maunsell, after whom Maunsells Road and Maunsells Park was named.

He inherited much of the portfolio on Robert’s death and a large portion of the land was put up for sale in 1852. The nuns are believed to have bought the property after that and used it for a convent and home for many years.

Boasting an original Victorian style tiled floor, the apartments have been developed very tastefully.

Following the success of the project – all apartments and the commercial premises are rented – the developer turned his attention to a row of houses backing onto his property, which had long been an eyesore for local residents.

Going back only two decades, the street was a bustling suburban centre, with a butcher, corner shop, bakery, fast food shop and video store. He purchased the houses from the Davoran family and this week lodged an application for the development of seven apartments on the site of numbers 56, 57 and 58 Shantalla Road.

A protected structure, number 58 is a two-storey, four bay terraced house, which can be accessed from Shantalla Road only. No trace of the original door survives and the roof has fallen in

“The restoration envisages replicating the important Georgian design elements, including the timber sash windows, paneled doors and the timber staircase. The style of the timber shutters and the timber sash windows may be used in replica production,” according to the archaeological consultant Anne Carey.

“It’s located in a very historic area, within a range of buildings that display some of the finest attributes of Georgian architecture in Galway … intervention at this stage could result in a sizable portion of the masonry and brick elements being incorporated into the restoration, which would be a good outcome for the building.

“Further disintegration may render even the structure of the building unsuitable for re-use and would result in the loss of further important Georgian fabric. Even in the absence of a programme of conservation, the protected status of the building will not permit its demolition and, if works are not carried out, it would remain a visually unsightly ruin into the future.”

Numbers 56 and 57 are both on the Galway City Council’s register of derelict buildings. The two limestone jostle stones at the front of No. 57 mean that the building is also a protected structure.

The adjoining No. 56 was previously used to accommodate James Davoren Butchers.

The roofs of both have fallen in, though a decent chimney still survives in No. 57.

The overall design involves building five apartments, two to each of the ground and first floors, with a fifth spread over both second floors. Two further apartments will be built in a newly constructed building at the rear of the site.

The developer plans to remove the existing shop front at No. 56 and replace it with two rectangular windows to match No. 57, which they say will be the reinstatement of the original style of fenestration.

Michael declined to be interviewed by the Galway City Tribune. It is understood that if planning permission is given, work will begin on the project by the end of the summer.

When it is completed, the entire block backing onto Fort Eyre will be one of the city’s most luxurious apartment complexes.


Party-goers in Galway hit with Covid fines

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has issued a renewed appeal this week for young people to desist from organising or attending any house parties as the local Covid-19 situation worsens – last week Gardaí were called to break up a number of gatherings in different parts of the city.

A total of 15 people were found to be attending one house party in the Salthill area last weekend while Gardaí were called to two other smaller gatherings – one in the Doughiska area and the other in Rahoon.

Cautions and Fixed Payment Notices (fines) were issued to a number of those involved. This week, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley has pleaded with young people ‘to stay away at all costs’ from such gatherings.

“We have very high Covid incidence rates in the Galway area over the past week; death rates from the disease are at their highest ever level; and the last thing we need now is groups of people coming together in confined settings.

“If one person has Covid at such a gathering then, in all probability, most others there will pick it up too and spread it their contacts and family members. I am pleading for people just not to do this.

“We are entering into our most critical period in trying to contain the spread of Covid-19, with the next month or so absolutely vital in our efforts to keep everyone healthy and safe and to try and avoid further loss of life,” he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Community gives new lease of life to Merlin allotments

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – In 2018, the allotments in Merlin Woods were in danger of falling by the wayside, with declining numbers and underuse blighting a facility that had huge potential.

Since then, the community has pulled together to create a space that locals are proud of and one that its advocates are hoping could be a template for other communities across the city.

Chairperson of the Committee behind this new lease of life is Michael Tully, who says the allotments have become a focal point for area, bringing together locals from all walks of life.

“It’s all about netting the community together and the response we’re getting has been unbelievable,” says Michael, who joined the committee in 2018.

“I started off as a user of Merlin Woods, walking by the allotments and thinking to myself that it would be great to grow my own fruit and veg.

“I started talking to a few of the plot-holders like John Rabbitte, Martin Lohan, Jim McCormack and Daithí O’Brien and they told me how to apply. I applied to the City Council and got my allotment in early 2018 and there were about eight allotments in use at that stage, all of us working away on our own.”

Two years later, all 42 allotments are in use, but it took the cooperation of Galway City Council and Trojan work from the community to get it to this point, explains Michael.

“We came down here every Saturday to clear the paths, dig out the weeds and make the place better. The sense of community was unbelievable. Anyone who couldn’t dig was bringing down flasks of tea and cakes to those that were,” he laughs.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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National Transport Authority to progress Galway’s Park and Ride

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A dedicated unit established within the National Transport Authority will look at the potential of Park and Ride to help solve Galway City’s traffic congestion problem.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said that Park and Ride facilities should not be restricted to the east, and sites needed to be located to the west and north-west to take account of commuters from Connemara.

Mr McGrath said Park and Ride would be advanced this year as part of the Galway Transport Strategy. He said that the Council, in conjunction with the dedicated unit within the NTA, would investigate feasible sites for the location of Park and Ride facilities.

Mr McGrath said that site selection and acquisition of land could commence in the second quarter of this year. He said he expected that Park and Ride would be progressed well before the Galway City Ring Road was built.

Director of Services for Transport, Ruth McNally, also said that the NTA was looking at the potential of sites in the city for Park and Ride and she insisted that money – or a lack of it – was not halting progress.

“Money is not a major issue for capital projects,” she said.

They were responding at Monday’s City Council meeting to councillors who lamented the slow progress on developing Park and Ride.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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