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Gathering keeps west on track for record level of US visitors

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The West is on course for a record year in terms of the numbers of North American tourists visiting, according to tourism chiefs, who are bullish about growth in the tourism industry again next year.

A combination of the Gathering and greater accessibility through increased routes into Shannon has boosted Galway and the West’s tourism year. “The North American market has been very, very strong and we are on target for a record year,” said Fiona Monaghan, head of operations Fáilte Ireland West.

“Ireland is back in vogue. The Gathering has really put Ireland back in the shop window. It created awareness about Ireland as a destination and it encouraged people who were thinking about coming to Ireland in the next few years to actually make the booking and come this year.

“It started last year with the Notre Dame American Football match in Dublin in September and it has continued ever since. It’s also a reflection that America is exiting recession and recovering quicker than we are here and they are travelling again. Consumer confidence has returned to the North American market,” she said.

But it’s not just the Americans who flocked to Galway and the West this year – the numbers of Germans and French visitors also increased so far in 2013.

The rugged landscape, the people and the culture and heritage of Galway and the West were attracting the Germans back to these shores, she said. 

This positivity is borne out in the latest official CSO figures. At over 5.4 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 6.4% in the first nine months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.  For the three-month period from July to September 2013, overseas trips to Ireland increased 7.8% to 2.26 million trips. This is the strongest performance in the third quarter in terms of visits since 2008.

Visits from mainland Europe grew by 5.1% for January to September 2013, to 1,935,400 visits and by 1.2% for the July to September period (786,200 visits). North America registered an increase of 14.6% for January to September 2013 (934,600 visits) and of 13.6% in the July to September 2013 period (415,000 visits). Visits from the UK were up by 3.5% for January to September 2013 (2,201,800 visits) and by 9% for the three months from July to September 2013 compared to the corresponding period of 2012 (904,700 visits).

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.

The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.

“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.

He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.

Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.

The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.

Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.

Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.

He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.

“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.

“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.

In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.

Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place

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The helipad on the former Shantalla pitch.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
BY ANDREW HAMILTON
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.

Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.

The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.

Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.

Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.

Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.

Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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