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Historic Galway mass rock believed to 350 years old



A national monument that is around 350 years old has been re-discovered in Coolough.

The mass rock, which possibly dates back to 1650, has been located at the end of the cul de sac in Crestwood.

A survey was carried out in 1992, and the information gathered was used by the National Monuments Service to draw maps of where national monuments are located.

The original map placed the mass rock of Coolough in the back garden of a home in Crestwood.

Locals knew that that location was incorrect, however, and the true location of the mass rock was only confirmed this week.

“We are delighted that that the National Monuments Service has confirmed that we have found the mass rock of Coolough. It’s of huge importance,” said historian Damien Quinn.

Mr Quinn is chairperson of Coolough 365: People and Place, a committee established last September to document and protect historical sites in the area.

He said the mass rock was located on the estate of landlord Clan Rickard.

It was in use in Coolough probably between 1650 and 1750 after the Cromwellian campaign and during the Penal Laws in Ireland.

Though they were forbidden by the English, up to 1,300 people would attend ‘secret’ masses at the mass rock, oftentimes at night.

“In 1670, some 190 priests were deported from County Galway alone. They feared a Catholic invasion of Protestant Ireland backed by Rome and Spain. At the same time as they were being deported, more priests were being sent here from Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. The priests back then were what you might call ‘on the runs’,” said Mr Quinn.

He has established that Fr Walter Burke, a Dominican Friar from the Claddagh, celebrated masses at the mass rock for about 20 years during the 1700s.

The rock was the priest’s altar, and he would say mass with his back facing the crowd, explained Mr Quinn.

But it was much more than a place to say mass. “They had hedge schools there as well, marriages and it was a multi-purpose Catholic cultural centre,” he said.

Mr Quinn added: “We’re delighted with the find. This is the second national monument in Crestwood – we also have the Kiln – and that’s quite significant for a place of this size.”

The committee is planning to have the mass rock blessed at a ceremony this August and signs will be erected to note the significance of the mass rock, in English and as Gaeilge.

As well as the mass rock and kiln, the National Monuments Service lists three other historic sites in the area including a ringfort, enclosure and lime and architectural fragments located in Coolough Church

The committee is committed to upgrading the historical pathway that runs through Coolough village, skirts Carraig Bán and Ballinfoile/Crestwood playing pitches, to full national monument status.

As well as Mr Quinn, the committee includes Trudy Fallon (secretary), Irene Hynes (treasurer), Michelle Utley (project manager), Jarlath Kemple (archivist), city councillor Frank Fahy (Irish officer) and Laura Thomas (graphic design).


Concerns over reopening of Middle Arch on Tuesday



A Galway City Councillor has given a cautious welcome but has also raised concerns over the reopening of the ‘Middle Arch’ beside the Claddagh Basin next Tuesday.

Access was closed to the public last May following requests from the Gardai due to large crowds that had gathered in the days previously amid fears of it becoming a serious health and safety risk.

The concerns were raised by Cllr. Niall McNelis who said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

He said “The decision to close it was earlier in year was due to it had become an area where large groups had gathered drinking and had led to calls by locals that it had become a serious health and safety risk. The area also does not have safety barriers and this has led to persons falling into the water in the past.

“Recently there has been a large number of calls made that the area should be reopened and that public space be made available to the public.”

Cllr. McNelis also said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

“We can not have the same scenes repeated as we did earlier this year and in previous years. House gardens and Claddagh church grounds were used as toilets and large amounts of litter mainly drink, was left behind. I have met a number of residents this weekend who are not happy with decision and calls have been made by them to have it closed in evenings by City Council and Gardai should assist in clearing area if needs be.

“We do not have enough Garda personnel to have proper policing in our city, we need more resources for the city to tackle and enforce anti social behaviour.

“I have met this week with Gardai and have been given assurances that this will be closely monitored and occasions such as exam results nights, freshers week and good weather will be monitored,” he said.

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Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault



Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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