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Connacht Tribune

Galway 2020 plans spectacular installation in heart of Joyce Country

Dara Bradley



Finnish light artist Kari Kola lights up Stonehenge to mark UNESCO World Heritage Day.

Galway 2020 expects crowds of around 20,000 to flock to Joyce Country over St. Patrick’s Day weekend next year to see a light installation on the shores of Loch na Fooey (Lough Na Fuaiche).

It is anticipated that some 5,000 patrons every night from Saturday, March 14, to Tuesday, March 17, will view ‘Savage Beauty’, a lights-based artwork by Finish artist Kari Kola, which promises to “transform the Ceann Garbh mountainside”.

The installation is one of the centrepieces of the programme for the European Capital of Culture yearlong showcase of culture in Galway, and temporary park and ride hubs will be used to bus patrons to viewing points along the lake.

Kari Kola describes the installation as a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’.

“To celebrate the Galway European Capital of Culture, I want to create something that all Irish people and people around the world will remember for the rest of their lives,” she said.

Galway 2020, the company set-up to deliver the European Capital of Culture, has applied to Galway County Council for an event licence for the installation.

According to the application, the area to be illuminated is approximately 3.3 kilometres in length and ranges in height from 30 metres to 500 metres. Six generators will be airlifted by helicopter to the site, and will be temporarily installed to power LED light sources.

The exact location of the site is between Benwee and Bunnacunneen mountains, approximately two kilometres north-west of the town of Finny, at the Mayo/Galway border.

The proposal is to illuminate a section of the Bunnacunneen and Ben Beg uplands, located on the southern shores of the lake.

Viewing of the installation will be from the junction with the R300 on the Clonbur side, and the beach on the Maam side.

“The audience will only be able to access viewing on dedicated coaches from a number of proposed park and ride hubs – Maam Cross, Leenaun, Tourmakeady, Clonbur. Additional shuttles may travel from Galway and Clifden. The roads in the immediate vicinity will be closed to traffic,” according to the event licence application.

The event will be ticketed, and patrons will have an opportunity to reserve a seat on a scheduled shuttle bus from and back to the park and ride hubs.

“It is proposed that at least six 30-seater minibuses run in continuous loop from each of the four park and ride hubs. They will run at ten minute intervals and will return patrons from the site. This frequency allows for 150 patrons to be dropped at the viewing area every ten minutes from 6pm to 11pm. This allows for approximately 5,000 patrons per night. Buses will begin to depart the hubs at 5.30pm and the last bus will depart at 10.40pm. Additional buses will be provided to ferry the last groups back to the parking hubs. Each of the parking hubs will have parking for approximately 300 to 400 cars,” the application said.

The length of the viewing area is 3.8km, and the width is an average of five metres, giving a viewing area of 19,000 metres squared. “The maximum audience at any one time along the viewing area is expected to be between 1,000 and 1,500 and these will be spread over a 3.5km area,” it said.

MKO, planning and environmental consultants, carried out an Ecological Impact Assessment and an Appropriate Assessment Screening Report, which accompanies the licence application.

The ecological assessment concluded: “The proposed project will not result in any significant effect on any European or nationally designated site for nature conservation. There will be no less or alteration to any of the habitats identified within the proposed equipment footprint.

“No significant effects on fauna is anticipated due to the nature, scale and duration of the proposed project. Provided that the project is constructed and operated in accordance with the design and best practice that is outlined within this application, significant impacts on biodiversity are not anticipated at any geographic scale.”

Connacht Tribune

Packed like sardines in Salthill and only 200 allowed gather at a game

John McIntyre



John McIntyre

Inside Track with John McIntyre –

IN a moment of madness, I decided to take a cycle out to Salthill last Saturday. By the time I got to the Blackrock Diving Tower, I thought I had just come through Torremolinos or one of those sun hot spots on the Costa Del Sol. There were cars and people everywhere.

The first inkling that Salthill would be heaving came when there was a traffic-jam halfway back the Lough Atalia Road leading to the Docks. Such were the number of cars, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Pearse Stadium was hosting a Connacht football final that afternoon.

If the people of Offaly, Laois and Kildare – all currently under partial Covid-19 lockdown – could see the carefree holiday mood in one of the West’s favourite tourist attractions, they’d be wondering had they stumbled on a parallel universe.

As readers will know from previous columns, I have a jaundiced view of NPHET and the Government’s cautious approach to relaxing the coronavirus restrictions. The scaremongering continues at frightening levels and many people are living in a climate of fear – though few of them were in Salthill.

NPHET must be immune to what’s really happening on the ground. If it thinks that there is widespread compliance, the group is living in cloud cuckoo land. All over Ireland’s favourite tourist attractions, there are thousands of holiday makers with little or no observance of social distancing.

My frustration over this scenario is fuelled by the way sport and its followers have been so badly compromised by the Covid-19 restrictions. My club Lorrha was playing in the Tipperary hurling championship last Friday evening and many of our diehard supporters couldn’t get a ticket to the match.

It’s the same in every GAA parish. So much unnecessary agitation and frustration. On Sunday evening, reporting duties took me to Ballinasloe for an attractive derby clash between Tommy Larkins and Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry. In a nutshell, there was nearly as many people inside as outside the wire. The ‘gathering’ limit of 200 annoyingly remains, especially in the context of the throngs in places like Salthill.

NPHET have justified not increasing crowd limits to beyond 200 over fears that people will congregate afterwards and the assumption that individuals from different families are travelling together in the one car. Frankly, it’s a load of nonsense and just irrational justification for not being prepared to compromise.

Of course, if the Government had any backbone instead of acting like a lapdog, it would never have come to this. I am fed up of hearing the line, in the interests of ‘public health’, as if people are dying from nothing else other than the coronavirus. The reality is that there have only been a handful of fatalities from the disease over the past fortnight. In the same period, how many have passed away from cancer and cardiac issues when their standard of care wasn’t what it should have been due to the fixation with Covid-19 over the past four months?

There’s now a genuine health and safety issue at play as well in relation to sporting fixtures. We have all images of fans hanging off trees and ladders, and others on rust-laden roofs, in their desperation to support their local teams. Furthermore, does NPHET have any idea what their draconian approach is doing to the mental health of some people?

There was no justification for stopping sporting activity in Laois, Offaly and Kildare last Friday. Locking down the affected towns where there was a surge of new infections in local meat processing plants would have made more sense. There have been no clusters spread through sport so why should codes like GAA and soccer be punished?

We all appreciate that the virus hasn’t gone away and there is an obligation on all of us to act responsibly, but only making the use of masks compulsory for most indoor settings from last Monday takes the biscuit altogether. Why has it taken so long? The pandemic has been with us since last March and only now is this measure deemed appropriate.

Over the past few weeks, I have observed individuals wearing masks travelling alone in cars, while cycling, and outdoors where there’s hardly a sinner in sight. What’s that all about? It’s not as if you can pass on the virus to yourself! Horse racing is going to extremes altogether. Now everybody at a meeting has to wear a mask outdoors. Suffice to say, they all look ridiculous walking around in what is the equivalent of big open fields.

I have absolutely no issue with our civil liberties being compromised in the ongoing quest to supress the virus, but logic is being repeatedly thrown out the window. NPHET’s ‘one size fits all’ approach must be urgently reviewed and the Government needs to stand back and make up its own mind about what activity constitutes genuine risk.

Though I believe the horse has long since bolted when it comes to wearing masks in indoor centres, I am willingly obeying the rule while as team manager of Lorrha, all our players have their temperatures checked before each training session; there are hand santisers supplied; and the training props are disinfected.

The primary focus should be on sorting out meat processing plants and the direct provision centres, while travel in and out of the country ought to be restricted to emergencies or on compassionate grounds. House parties also need to be clamped down on. Everything else is hardly worth a hill of beans in tackling this pandemic.

Keeping gatherings at 200 and not allowing pubs to reopen are soft targets. I am not proposing anarchy or anything like that, but the powers that be need to wise up and concentrate their efforts on the places where outbreaks of the virus are occurring. Everything else is just window dressing.

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Connacht Tribune

Old mills set for new life as distillery

Declan Tierney



An artist's impression of the new distillery.

An old corn mill in East Galway is set to be transformed into a €6 million whiskey and gin manufacturing distillery – once planning permission has been granted for the development.

And if approved, the distillery has the potential to create more than 15 new jobs directly in the village of Ahascragh, providing a huge economic boost to the area – and rescuing the old corn mill which ceased operation in the 1950s.

A planning application for the new brewery has just been submitted by Gareth and Michelle McAllister of McAllister Distillers in North Dublin, with a decision due before the end of the year.

Gareth McAllister told The Connacht Tribune that he intended to renovate the old building while retaining some of the old features such as a mill wheel, and utilise the stream that runs through the property.

The complex, as well as producing various styles of Irish whiskey and gin, will also include a visitor centre, rooms for hospitality events, a retail shop and cafe.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Wait is over for frontman’s first solo venture




John Martin Tierney

Multi-instrumentalist John Martin Tierney has been a recognisable face on Galway’s music scene for several years – but up to now, largely as the focal point in a band setting.  Comfortable operating as both energetic frontman and rhythm-setting guitarist, he has featured in an array of impressive local outfits; most notably, his work with Dead Horse Jive has seen the five-piece develop into one of the city’s top live acts.

But with all of that experience in a collaborative setting, John’s solo work has sometimes been put to the side.

That’s about to change – if just temporarily – as John releases his debut single, I Will Wait, this Friday; a three-and-a-half-minute ballad, the song incorporates piano and acoustic guitar more than much of his band work has done.

Though the track has existed in some form for a long time, its subject matter was particularly pertinent over lockdown.

“Around the start of June, I started properly putting energy into something that would have an end product,” John recalls.

“I wanted something I could be proud of, even if I wasn’t going to release it while lockd I Will Waitown was going on. I had an earlier version of it but I was never happy with it. I started rewriting it in about May or June.

“It kind of talks about missing people that you love. It’s from the point of view of not being able to see someone physically because of whatever restrictions are in place. That’s where it came from anyway and I think it translates well… I hope it does.”

For full interview, read the Groove Tube in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in all shops now – or purchase the digital edition; full details on this website.

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