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Connacht Tribune

Free parking aims to boost local business in Athenry

Stephen Corrigan



Councillors have voted to make parking free in the Backlawn Carpark beside Kenny Park in Athenry for three months – in an effort to boost business in the town and make use of the currently “underused” facility.

On a motion put forward by Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) and seconded by Cllr Gabe Cronnelly (Ind), councillors of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District unanimously agreed to make parking in the Backlawn from September to November, with a view to making it permanently free if it successfully increases business in the town.

According to Cllr Herterich Quinn, who said she lived beside the car park and saw daily how underused it is, making parking free would increase the number of spaces in the town centre for more vulnerable road users.

“If we allow it to be free, then it might encourage people to park there, thereby freeing up parking in town and people who are elderly or infirm could use the on-street parking,” she said.

Concurring, Cllr Cronnelly said making parking free would not take up any man hours and said while the car park was much used for games in Kenny Park, it was empty most of the time outside that.

“If the car park was used a bit more, there would be less litter around the clothes banks and bottle banks too.

“In the long-term, I’d be looking to make it free,” he added.

In a report read by Senior Executive Engineer in Roads Paula Higgins said, on average, the 92-space car park was used by six or seven cars per day and the annual take from the Council was €6,000.

While the Council executive welcomed the trial free parking, it requested that councillors find some measure of its success in relation to the suggested impact on the town centre, residents and local businesses.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) said he regularly passes the car park and rarely sees any cars in it – adding that estimates by his colleagues of five cars were probably even overstated.

“You wonder, when community wardens have to do a cash call, if the revenue in the machine is even covering the cost of the cash call.

“The way rural towns are going, a lot of trade and retail is barely existing and they’re paying rates, so anything we can do, in the Council and in the Municipal District to generate footfall and revenue for business should be encouraged,” said Cllr Carroll.

Cllr Herterich said that the introduction of free parking had to be “marketed” and that signage should be erected to indicate that it was available in the town.

She also suggested that if this introduction in Athenry was successful, it should be rolled out in other areas – and that it should be done in conjunction with a clamp down on illegal parking in the town centres.

Cllr Jim Cuddy (Ind), Cathaoirleach of the Municipal District, agreed and said there would now be “no excuse” for illegal parking or for the streets to be “blocked up”.

Parking at the Backlawn Car Park is currently 70c per hour and €3 per day, but from the first of September to November 30, it will be free.

A second part of Cllr Herterich Quinn’s motion, which called for the introduction of free Christmas parking in Athenry was deferred as it was agreed this should be done, as usual, at the Plenary Council session in November when all towns in the County would be considered for the initiative.

Connacht Tribune

Two arrested in Galway over spate of burglaries

Enda Cunningham



Two men in County Galway have been arrested as part of a Garda investigation into a series of burglaries in businesses in Limerick and Tipperary.

As part of the operation, three houses were searched yesterday (Saturday) morning in Co Galway and two men in their 20s were arrested. They were brought to Henry Street and Roxboro Road Garda stations in Limerick, where they were detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.

During the search operation, two vehicles were also seized for technical examination.

The eight burglaries were carried out in the Limerick and Tipperary area in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.

As part of these investigations, an operation was put in place by detective Gardaí from Henry Street Garda station with the assistance of the Armed Support Unit in the Western Region and Gardaí from Tipperary, Limerick and Galway.

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Connacht Tribune

Branar reaching for skies at former airport

Judy Murphy



Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí.

Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.

Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.

The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.

At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.

“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.

At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions.  Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.

Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.

And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.

Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.

Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory

John McIntyre



Corofin's Colin Brady is tackled by Paul Kerrigan of Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club semi-final. The reigning champions face Kilcoo of Down in Sunday's showdown at Croke Park.

IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.

Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.

It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.

Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.

It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.

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