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Galway City sets sights on All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil

Denise McNamara

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Galway will be applying to host Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 2020, a festival that could boost city coffers to the tune of €50m.

Never before held in Galway City, the massive event was only ever staged in County Galway in 1955 when it took place in Loughrea.

The application to host the event in the city is being made by the Moycullen branch of Galway Comhaltas. The chairman of the Moycullen branch, Caomhan Ó Fatharta, told the Galway City Tribune they were laying the groundwork for their application by manning a stand at the All-Ireland Fleadh in Ennis from August 9, urging other counties to throw their support behind the bid.

The branch has received a commitment from NUI Galway to host the event in three years’ time after successfully holding the county final last year, with plans to hold the Connacht finals there next year.

“Galway never had the facilities to apply for this before but now the university has two big halls – the Bailey Allen and the Kingfisher – that can hold 2,200 people. We will possibly need a third venue such as the Big Top which holds 1,000,” explained Caomhan.

“We have a lot of work done on this in the Moycullen branch. We’re trying to sort out meetings with the City Council, County Council and councillors to all get behind this as well as the 2020 team because of the enormous cost implications of staging this – it costs €800,000 to run.

“But we plan to definitely submit an application for 2020 after this year’s All-Ireland.”

The spin-offs are huge. In 2013 the jamboree of music, song and dance went north for the first time to Derry City, which staged the biggest event ever held in Comhaltas’ history when 430,000 attended.

There is no reason why Galway could not be even bigger.

Ennis will stage the event this year and next, with a destination yet to be decided for 2018 and 2019. Sligo was the venue for the past two years.

The venue is decided by votes from branches from across the county and internationally. The week before the Fleadh – which generally takes place on the second or third week of August – is also a hive of activity as young musicians undertake week-long tutoring.

Peadar Brick, chairperson of the Galway Comhaltas, declined to comment ahead of a meeting on the issue next week.

He did point out that NUIG boasted the most appropriate facilities in the county as they were compact, capable of holding large crowds with 20 venues on site for different competitions.

The event is generally held in a location for two years in a row. Due to its timing, it will not clash with the other flagship events in the city such as the Galway International Arts Festival or the Galway Races.

Recently the head of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann told the Galway City Tribune that he would welcome an application to host a future Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Galway City.

Labhrás Ó Murchú, director-general of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, remarked: ”Galway City is a wonderful place, it’s such a vibrant city in so many ways because of the language and being so close to the Connemara Gaeltacht and it’s so compact – that’s why Derry was so successful, everything was near together.

“Personally, I spent my younger days in the Connemara Gaeltacht and we used to come into Galway City. I’ve often thought, gosh, wouldn’t this be a great location for the Fleadh Cheoil. The fact that Galway is well used to holding big events like the Galway Races is another Brownie point for Galway that it could well handle large crowds.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Patients moved from Merlin ‘to bolster private numbers’

Enda Cunningham

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Merlin Park: Patients were moved to private hospital.

Health Minister Simon Harris has said he will ask the HSE why patients requiring rehab services were moved from Merlin Park to a private hospital, leaving the state-of-the-art facility idle.

He was asked in the Dáil last week why waiting lists were not being tackled, when capacity at the Galway Clinic and Bon Secours private hospitals is at 15-20%.

Last month, the State entered a deal to ‘take over’ the country’s private hospitals – which has come under criticism in the Dáil with claims of under-utilisation of facilities.

Galway West Deputy Catherine Connolly asked for full details of the agreement with the private hospitals – worth €115m per month nationally – and said nothing about it made sense to her.

“We have major waiting lists and our two private hospitals in Galway City are at 15% to 20% capacity. The hospital itself [UHG] – I must be wrong about this figure but it is what I have been told – was at 30% to 40% capacity as of May 15,” she said.

Department of Health figures for last week show a 39% ‘utilisation’ rate for the Bon Secours and 16% for Galway Clinic.

“The Minister has stood in the Chamber and told us he had to make such arrangements, and certainly I welcomed the narrative at the time that we were taking over the private hospitals to deal with a pandemic. However, we are not utilising them.

“Merlin Park has a state-of-the-art rehab service. It has a gym and all types of therapists but it is now lying idle because, under this deal, the Government transferred the patients from that wonderful facility to a private hospital.

“It took the therapists and patients into the private hospital to allow them to get up to 15% or 20% capacity. It sent the nurses into the public system and left the system empty at Merlin Park, and that is to mention only one service.

“None of the way this has been done makes sense to me. Surely anybody with a bit of sense would know that when the terms and the heads of agreement were signed, it should have allowed for change.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Barriers set to halt groups drinking at quayside

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Access to the green quayside areas off Wolfe Tone Bridge will be blocked from today to prevent large groups of people drinking over the Bank Holiday weekend.

And the message from Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley is – enjoy the glorious weekend of weather that’s in store, but diligently maintain the two-metre social distancing rule and don’t consume booze in public areas.

“We are not killjoys and the lovely weather is a boost to everyone’s spirits. People will enjoy the outdoors this weekend but it’s illegal to consume alcohol in public areas and we will be enforcing that bylaw.

“In this kind of weather, there will inevitably be groups of people congregating in outdoor areas – but the message is simple and crystal clear: at all times maintain the two-metre social distancing guideline,” Chief Supt Curley told the Galway City Tribune.

On Tuesday evening last, Gardaí did enforce a dispersal procedure in the Spanish Arch/Claddagh Quay area of the city, after about 200 young people had gathered there, many of them consuming alcohol. They continued to patrol the area yesterday.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council confirmed yesterday that a green area on the Claddagh Quay side of the river – where large groups of young people had gathered this week – would be closed off to the public, probably from today (Friday).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. Please remember that without advertising revenue and people buying and subscribing to our newspapers, this website would not exist. You can read the full article by buying a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Westwood owners plan tourist accommodation usage

Enda Cunningham

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The Westwood student accommodation complex site this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The owners of the new Westwood student accommodation in Newcastle are planning to use part of the complex for tourist and business traveller accommodation “in light of the current health pandemic”.

NTM ROI Seed Capital is currently building the five apartment blocks off the N59 and has sought a determination from An Bord Pleanála on whether it would need to apply for planning permission to allow “partial occupation for tourist and visitor use in the academic year from September 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021”.

Under the existing planning permission, the development “shall only be occupied as student accommodation . . . and shall not be used for any other purpose without a prior grant of planning permission for a change of use”.

However, the company has drawn up a contingency plan in the event that construction may not be completed for the coming academic year.

The plan involves allowing tourists and other ‘non-student’ users to be accommodated in the complex – An Bord Pleanála has been asked to determine whether the change would be a ‘material alteration’ of the planning approval or not.

If it is ruled a material alteration, the Board can then invite submissions from members of the public before it decides on whether to approve or reject it.

Already, local residents – who strongly objected to the entire development during the planning process – have expressed concerns about parking issues which they believe would arise if the Westwood is used for tourist use.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. Please remember that without advertising revenue and people buying and subscribing to our newspapers, this website would not exist. You can read the full article by buying a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune HERE.

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