The generational rights of coastal residents to harvest seaweed from Connemara’s shores has been copper-fastened by the state, following clarification from a Government Minister in the Dáil this week.
Minister Damien English made it clear that families who have traditionally harvested the coastal crop can continue to do so without reference to state or any other bodies, under what is known as the ‘profit-à-prendre’ legal tenet.
But the waters have been muddied somewhat by confirmation that tenants of coastal townlands will have to apply to the Property Registration Authority in order to legally establish seaweed harvesting rights which were previously taken for granted.
And as part of that process they will be required to prove that there was a family history of seaweed harvesting in the relevant parts of the seashore – something made more difficult given the passage of time and the absence of documentation.
The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government has also advised that any owner of seaweed harvesting rights – or person claiming ownership – should contact their legal advisors before selling or leasing out those rights.
The matter arose in the Dail on foot of a motion put down by Galway West TD Catherine Connolly – along with her fellow independent from Donegal, Thomas Pringle – in relation to Sustainable Seaweed Harvesting.
That called on government to develop and publish a national strategy which would promote the development of the seaweed sector in Ireland – with particular focus on the interests of traditional seaweed harvesters and their livelihoods.
Moreover it emphasised the huge potential for sustainable job creation in the seaweed sector for rural, coastal and island communities.
The motion also called on the government not to issue any new licences to companies in the absence of such an overall strategy.
This week, Minister Damian Engish explained ‘profit-à-prendre’ as a ‘right to take’ – and this right may be registered or unregistered, according to the Minister.
“A culture of harvesting and perception of individual or family ownership of rights to harvest seaweed is mostly found on the western seaboard. Where harvesting has been carried out over a sufficiently long period a ‘profit-à-prendre’ may have been established,” he said.
Those who claim traditional rights without being registered as such will be relying on their historic connections to firmly support their applications to the Property Registration Authority.
The finding from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government were welcomed by Minister of State, Seán Kyne, T.D. and by Coiste Cladaí Chonamara, a group that campaigned for the recognition of the traditional rights.
However, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív said that there has been very little advance. He said that it would always be accepted that those who had a registered Land Folio right were entitled to harvest seaweed.
The situation where people who have had locally accepted traditional rights now have to apply for licence opens up a new scenario, he said.
The issue of traditional seaweed rights and the general terms of the 1933 Foreshore Act – amended in the nineties – appeared contradictory up to now.
The Foreshore Act inferred that any materials below the high water mark properly belonged to the State and that a licence would be required for the harvesting and removal of seaweed.
This came to head three years ago when Acadian Sea Plants, the new owners of the Arramara Teo seaweed company – headquartered in Cill Chiaráin in Connamara – applied for a seaweed harvesting licence.
This application submitted under the terms of the Foreshore Act sought a licence to harvest seaweed along a widespread area of seashore from Co Clare north along the Connemara coastline and into west Mayo.
There were also some smaller licence applications – but the one from Arramara Teo attracted most focus, since they are the largest player in the industry in Ireland.
Acadian Sea Plants from Nova Scotia bought out Arramara Teo from Údarás na Gaeltachta four years ago and the Canadian owners had a stated aim of an increase of approximately 50% in the throughput of seaweed in the Cill Chiarán plant.
They were also, in a strategy supported by Údarás na Gaeltachta, focused on producing more value added products in Connemara and consequently increasing employment levels.
However, Acadian Sea Plants sought what they termed was a guaranteed and regular supply of seaweed so that the increased investments could be justified and advanced.
Obtaining a licence over a wide area of seashore was a key element in their effort to regulate supply to the company.
Acadian Sea Plants President, JP Deveau stated in an interview earlier this year that further investment in Connemara would be contingent on a guaranteed supply of seaweed. He also stated that “Acadian Sea Plants had not come to Ireland to do three day weeks”.
A spokesman from Arramara Teo said some clarity has now been established and that the company would work with the community in ensuring that the seaweed business would be successful. They will also consult with state authorities in regard to their licence application.
“While it is now welcome that no further licences will be given to companies, it is vital that this remains the position until an overall strategy is published,” said Deputy Catherine Connolly this week.
She said that she will be raising the date for publication of this strategy in the Dáil and also clarification on what body the Minister is referring to in relation to the wild seaweed sector.
Shannon back in full flight!
There was a festive atmosphere at Shannon Airport this week as the inaugural Ryanair Corfu service prepared to take flight – ahead of another new service to Gran Canaria, which begins this week.
The new route to the popular Greek Island will operate twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays until the end of October, and the new weekly Ryanair service to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) begins this Saturday.
All of this means that Shannon Airport is now serving Alicante, Barcelona, Stansted, Gatwick, Kaunas, Krakow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Manchester, Corfu, Faro, Lanzarote, Malaga, Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) and Turin.
Passengers on the first Corfu-bound flight enjoyed a pre-departure reception in the airport’s transit lounge which was decorated in festive style.
To celebrate the new routes, the airport gave one lucky passenger a special surprise, return flight tickets for two people to a choice of one of Shannon Airport’s 17 exciting destinations.
A special water cannon salute by the airport’s fire service added an extra sense of occasion as airport staff welcomed passengers and looked after them throughout their time in the airport.
Welcoming the new air services Mary Considine, CEO, Shannon Group, which owns and manages Shannon Airport said: “The global pandemic has had a huge impact on all our lives and being able to once again welcome our passengers as they take to the skies bound for sun drenched holiday destinations is really wonderful.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Pixies slot proves time is now for the Clockworks
Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell
When Pixies were announced as Galway International Arts Festival headliners way back in 2019, a promising Loughrea four-piece were fresh from relocating to London and bullishly embracing their role as the new faces of former Oasis manager Alan McGee’s Creation 23 record label.
Two years on, the US alt-rock pioneers are yet to grace the Big Top – but the Clockworks, made up of James McGregor, Tom Freeman, Seán Connolly and Damian Greaney, are set to make a US debut in their company with a series of support slots that cement their place as one of Galway’s biggest artistic exports.
In less than six weeks’ time, Pixies will embark on a September tour of the states with the Clockworks by their side for six gigs. The Galway group play their own maiden headline US show in New York’s Mercury Loung on September 8.
On their horizon too, is an end-of-year Irish tour with Dublin indie-rock outfit Inhaler as well as a host of festival appearances, barring cancellations.
With news of the Pixies tour coming in the same week NewDad were announced as support for Fontaines D.C.’s highly anticipated Belfast show on August 13, it is powerful evidence of the ground Galway acts continue to break.
“It’s very exciting to have loads of gigs lined up after absolutely nothing for so long,” James admits.
“It’s really nice to feel like we’re going to hit the ground running and when Pixies came through, that was just amazing and what a way to start. It’s our first time gigging in America – my first time going there personally.
“All four of us are massive fans of Pixies too. Any time they’d come to Ireland, we’d always try and throw our hat in the ring for a support slot and just to think that now we’ll be going around the States with them is insane.”
Read the full interview in this week’s Groove Tube, in the Connacht Tribune – on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital version from www.connachttribune.ie
All out in force to cheer home one of their own
Sitting on an airplane, mid-air from Japan en route to Dublin, Olympic bronze medallist from Moycullen, Fiona Murtagh was unsure whether anyone would be at the airport to meet her and teammates Aifric Keogh of Na Forbacha, Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty when they touched down.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, there was no big welcoming party planned for Dublin Airport. But Fiona need not have worried; as she strode out of airport security and into Arrivals, all her family were there to hug her.
Fiona hadn’t seen her parents Marguerite and Noel since April because of a pre-Olympic training camp in Italy; and her siblings Pádraig, Lorraine and twin Alan all turned up, too.
“Oh my God, I couldn’t believe it. It was actually really emotional, it was so lovely. I didn’t expect the full family to be there. Tears came to my eyes. I hadn’t seen mom and my dad in seven weeks,” said Fiona.
That was just the first leg of what was to be a heart-warming homecoming for a hero.
The family drove back to Galway with Fiona, who had heard “through the grapevine that there was going to be something in Bushypark”.
“But the scale of it, I didn’t expect it at all, it was incredible, it was so lovely to see everyone come out and support and see me”, she said.
Read the full story over eleven pages of coverage on the homecoming of our Olympic heroes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie