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Connacht Tribune

GAA lands fail to sell at auction

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GAA-owned lands near Athenry – purchased twelve years ago for a whopping €2.8 million – failed to sell at auction.

The 103-acre property was earmarked for a major training facility for the GAA in County Galway but these plans fell through as the authority simply did not have the funds to embark on such a centre of excellence.

It was a case of ‘cutting their losses’ as far as the GAA in Galway were concerned and they decided to put the lands at Mountain South, Athenry up for auction.

Over 40 interested parties and onlookers turned up for the auction in the Raheen Woods Hotel which was conducted by Athenry-based auctioneer Cathal Moran, himself an accomplished hurler for his club.

When the auction was convened in the hotel, those in attendance were informed that there was an AMV (Advised Minimum Value) of €750,000 on the property.

However, the auction attracted just a single bid of half a million euros from a particular farmer in attendance, believed to be from the North Galway area – and despite encouragement from Mr Moran, there were no other bids forthcoming.

The property was then withdrawn from the auction and will now be sold by private treaty. The auctioneer said that there were a number of inquiries about the extensive lands in the immediate aftermath of the auction.

“And even since then there has been a considerable interest in the lands and we are quietly confident that we could have a sale in the next couple of weeks. It is being sold in one lot because of the configuration of the lands,” Cathal Moran explained.

He said that the interest is mainly from farming and business interests and he expressed confidence that the asking price will be achieved.

However, it is a considerably long way short of what Galway GAA paid for the property way back in 2006 near the height of the Celtic Tiger boom when they forked out €2.8 million along with a further €535,000 for servicing the loan and drawing up a planning application for the site.

The agricultural lands are situated two miles from Athenry on the Craughwell road having close proximity to the M6 Galway-Dublin motorway and the M6/M17/M18 interchange at Rathmorrissey and are contained in one lot.

According to the auctioneers, the property is comprised in various large fields with internal field divisions and with water laid on throughout.

The property is a non-residential farm and the Esker River flows through it on the Athenry side.

The lands, they said, would be considered good quality limestone lands which have been reclaimed over the years and are dry. They have been grazed with sheep and cattle over recent years.

Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’

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Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!

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Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea

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Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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