Appeals are expected to be lodged with An Bord Pleanála within days, calling for a reversal of Galway City Council’s decision to grant permission for controversial floodlights at Pearse Stadium.
Planners have approved the application for three 30.5 metre high columns and two 36.5m high columns, each of which will have between 33 and 40 lighting fixtures.
But they imposed stringent conditions on the operation of the lights, and parking arrangements for matches and other events in the stadium.
A ‘middle mast’ on the Dr Mannix Road side must be demountable, and must be taken down by April 30 each year, and not erected again before October 1.
The lights can only be used for matches – a maximum of 12 evenings from October to March – unless specific consent is granted otherwise.
“The permission for the use of floodlights is for the facilitation of match-playing only and shall not be interpreted for the facilitation of other uses such as sports training, concerts or any recreational activity. The use of the lights is restricted to the hours of 6pm to 10pm,” the conditions read.
Planners have also imposed restrictions on the level of illumination permitted, and ordered that the use of the lights must be digitally logged “in a secure, accurate and independent manner”, and that the annual logs be verified by qualified personnel and submitted to the Council each year.
“The GAA shall make the logging record available for inspection by the public in the event of a dispute with residents within four weeks of the relevant match,” the Council added.
Traffic management proposals already submitted by the GAA – where they point out they have access to a total of almost 4,500 parking spaces across the city – have also been approved.
Nearly 100 objections were lodged with the Council – including petitions from local residents’ groups.
Read more in this week’s Connacht Sentinel
Old mills set for new life as 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.
Aer Arann marks half a century of linking islands to the mainland
When Coley Hernon of Cill Rónáin on Inis Mór wrote letters to newspaper editors in 1970, questioning why the Aran Islands couldn’t have an air service like that operating from many Scottish islands, a number of Galway businessmen responded to the challenge.
Among them were visionaries Jimmy Coen and Ralph Langan, who established a local airline, Aer Arann Islands – and on August 15, 1970 the first flight took place between Inis Mór and the Galway mainland, at Oranmore.
According to the Connacht Tribune archives, the inaugural flight of the twin-engine plane, which cost £40,000, carried ten people in all, including a number of Bórd Fáilte officials and tourism representatives.
“The weather was unkind and heavy mist and squally winds made for unpleasant conditions but nevertheless the inaugural flight went off according to schedule,” the Tribune newspaper report said at the time.
When they landed, they were greeted by members of Aran Islands Tourist Development Association at a new £20,000 airstrip at Killeaney.
That first commercial flight from Galway’s mainland to the Aran Islands will be commemorated this weekend, 50 years later.
From those humble beginnings, it’s a company that has faced turbulence during its five decades, not least in recent years when there was uncertainty over State supports (PSO, Public Service Obligation) for the service . . . but at its core has always been a sense of duty to serving islanders.
Galway among counties least hit by Covid
Galway has so far suppressed the spread of Coronavirus this summer – with the latest figures showing the county is one of the least affected in the Republic of Ireland in the past fortnight.
The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population stands at just 3.1 in Galway in the last two weeks, compared with the national average of 18.42.
Three of the counties plunged into a partial lockdown again last Friday – Laois, Kildare and Offaly – had cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight of 86.19, 146.51 and 123.14 respectively.
The rate in Clare was 28.62, Mayo was 6.32, Roscommon was 1.55, and Tipperary was 1.25.
In the past week, Galway surpassed the 500-mark for confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic struck in March.
None of them are now in hospital, according to the data.
In the week to Sunday, there were a total of three new cases confirmed in Galway, bringing the running total to 501. The previous week, there a total of five new cases.
On Tuesday of this week, both of Galway’s two public hospitals, University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula, were Covid-free, and were not treating any patients in wards or in ICU who were confirmed as having Covid-19.
Get all the latest coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.