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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council launches new housing schemes

Dara Bradley

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A sum of €25 million will be ploughed into tackling the county’s housing shortage with the construction of three social housing schemes this year.

This figure is on top of the €15 million spent last year on refurbishing and building new Council houses across Galway.

And Galway County Council last week unveiled a new plan to set up a dedicated team of experts to draw down more money from the State to continue to invest in housing projects to ease the housing and homelessness crisis.

Director of Services for Housing, Michael Owens said the Council was pumping €25 million into building social houses in the county this year and next. He detailed three housing projects that were at design, contract and construction stage and which would increase the social housing stock by over 110.

Some 68 homes are under construction in Tullahill in Loughrea, and these will be delivered on a phased basis between now and the end of 2020, he said.

Another four homes are to be built in An Cheathrú Rua; and the contract for this project was awarded to Finna Construction earlier this month.

The €25m cash will also allow for the appointment of a design team for the construction of approximately 40 houses in Tir an Bhuí in Tuam.

Mr Owens also informed County Councillors on Monday that some €15 million had been invested already in the Tuam regeneration area which comprised of the refurbishment of 21 houses on Gilmartin Road, the construction of 40 new homes in Cúil Ghréine (28) and Gort an Chláir (12), which are all due for completion in July and the approval for the 40 houses in Tir an Bhuí.

Other projects – including new social houses in Clifden and Roundstone – were also being progressed, Mr Owens assured Connemara Councillors Eileen Mannion and Gerry King.

Chief Executive of Galway County Council Kevin Kelly outlined his vision to create an ‘urban and rural regeneration team’ made up of engineers and Council staff, which would be dedicated to drawing down grants for more housing projects.

Mr Kelly said the County Council has been very successful in the recent past at tapping into funding streams but a dedicated team that targets grant applications could reap even more rewards for the county.

He was awaiting approval from the Department to fund the team, he said. He explained that Government funding streams have increased in recent years to tackle the homeless crisis facing the country and the Council needed a dedicated team to capitalise and get its fair share of the additional funding.

Cllr Mary Hoade (FF) said it was a good idea and suggested that priority was being given to projects that were ‘shovel ready’. Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) said a dedicated team to draw down funding would be welcome.

Mr Kelly said the Council needs to get Government approval for the new team, and there was no budget yet for it. “The question is not whether we can afford it, but can we afford not to,” he asked.

Cllr Joe Byrne (FG) said there were a lot of positive developments on the housing front in the county, and he asked that Mr Owens give a presentation to elected members about all of the housing projects that are being progressed at the moment.

Connacht Tribune

Two arrested in Galway over spate of burglaries

Enda Cunningham

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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

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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

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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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