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Humanity Dick rides again in revival of one-man show



Seán Leonard as Humanity Dick Martin.

The one-man show, Humanity Dick: A Tale of Beasts and Bullets, which was a sell-out success at the Galway Fringe Festival last year 2016 coming to Moycullen on Saturday, May 6.

Seán Leonard’s one-man drama tells the fascinating and entertaining true story of Galway’s own Richard ‘Humanity Dick’ Martin, MP – Connemara landlord, celebrity duellist, father of animal protection, cuckolded husband, bankrupt, exile and more.

In an extraordinary life of glorious achievement and dismal failure, Martin (1754 –1834) was feared and jeered in equal measure.

But he always held his honour and the welfare of animals above all else and devoted much of his life to defending both, no matter how high the cost.

Taking on the role of Martin, Seán recounts and acts out scenes from a life of duels, revolutions, contrary cousins, wayward wives, financial failure, parliamentary persistence and, famously, a donkey in a courthouse.

This show premiered at the Galway Fringe Festival in the City last year. It sold out for five nights, moving from the Theatre at Busker Browne’s to Upstairs at the Quays for the final two shows to cope with demand.

“People really engaged with Martin’s story, and not only because of the local angle and his entertaining, eventful and internationally significant life story,” Sean remarks.

“Although he’s remembered as the founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and ‘King of Connemara’, he was also a flawed and often contradictory character who made a lot of very human mistakes – some comic, some tragic.

“In spite of this, his desire to do good, his humanity and decency, always shone through. I think that’s something everyone can identify with, even when they’re laughing at his follies,” he adds

■ The show is being staged in partnership with the Moycullen Historical Society, and will take place in The Forge, Moycullen at 8pm on Saturday, May 6. Tickets are available from The Forge or by calling 087 4364699.



Street light replacement programme ahead of schedule and under budget



From the Galway City Tribune – Galway has been hailed a leading light for its replacement of streetlights with greener more efficient LED technology, a programme which is ahead of time and under budget.

Galway City Council has confirmed that around 9,600 streetlights have been converted to LED as part of its energy-efficient upgrade programme.

That represents 95% of the replacement of streetlights completed as of April of this year, which is eight months ahead of schedule.

A total of €3.06million was already invoiced for the work, and the final estimated cost of the programme will amount to €3.4m, according to an update report given to city councillors. This will be €700,000 under budget.

The local authority said that the new streetlights will result in approximately 64% energy savings annually.

Annual monetary cost savings will be approximately €340,000, and the CO2 savings will be approximately 975 tonnes per year.

The average payback of the investment will be 9.8 years, according to the report by the City Council.

It gave the example of Hazel Park, off the Thomas Hynes Road where there are 38 lighting columns. Before the upgrade, energy consumption there was 11,537 kWh per annum, costing €1,700 a year and producing 6.28 tonnes of CO2.

After the LED upgrade, the new energy consumption had plummeted to 5,025 kWh per annum, the new energy cost was €754 and some 2.73 tonnes of CO2 are produced now per year, more than half the previous figure.

Similarly, the energy saving in Ballybrit Court off the Monivea Road was 76%. It had 17 public lights that consumed 5,657.00 kWh per annum at a cost of €848 per year. That was cut to 1,343.00 kWh per annum and an annual bill was €201.

Councillors were told that the replacement programme is ahead of time and under budget by about €700,000.

The new lights have produced over 60% energy savings but also reduced the cost on ongoing energy bills.

Assistant Engineer in the Transport Department, Colm Shaughnessy, told councillors at this week’s meeting that the Covid pandemic and Brexit played to the Council’s advantage for this scheme. They put in a large order at an agreed price for the lights before there were serious issues with cross-border transport and price hikes and the city was much quieter to roll them out during the lockdowns.

With the agreement of councillors who had voted to include the cost in the budget, they had also gone ahead with their own programme instead of waiting for the national scheme, which would not begin for local authorities in the west for a number of years.

As a result, Galway City Council is one of the first local authorities in Ireland to achieve a full upgrade of public lighting to energy efficient LED lanterns.

The bollards used to light up the South Park and the Blackrock walkways were custom-designed for Galway not to interfere with views and had attracted the attention of other local authorities. The lights automatically switched off at night to give nature time to rest.

Nine such walkways would be lit up, with 115 lighting blackspots across the city identified that would also have lamps installed.

He cited the example of Cabbage Lane linking the Headford Road to Bohermore at St Finbarr’s Terrace which had been the location for antisocial behaviour and illegal dumping. Now that it was illuminated there were less complaints about it.

Cllr Niall McNelis (Lab) said it was a “huge success story”, and he praised the Council staff responsible for delivering the project ahead of schedule and with a reduced budget.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said: “This has been a really successful programme of works delivered on time and well under budget. The rollout will result in a 50-60% reduction in Galway City Council’s public lighting energy use and will provide annual savings of approximately €340,000 per annum. All involved in the rollout deserve great credit.

“The rollout will make our roads safer for all road users and reduce antisocial behaviour in our estates. I also very much welcome a commitment by Galway City Council to look at other areas not included in this scheme.”

Cllr Mike Crowe (FF) remarked that during his tenure on the Council he had never seen a more professional rollout of a programme of works. “It’s top class . . . it’s impacted positively on residents, travel and lorry drivers.”

Greens Councillor Martina O’Connor said lighting was something recognised as giving women freedom. “Walkers out at all hours of the night will benefit from this scheme.”

A motion by Social Democrats Cllr Owen Hanley, seconded by Cllr McNelis, asking Iarnród Éireann to upgrade the ‘line’ or walkway between Renmore and Lough Atalia with lighting to make it safer was unanimously agreed.

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Residents want all trace of unauthorised phone mast removed



From the Galway City Tribune – Residents living beside the site of a proposed telecoms mast in Knocknacarra that was refused planning permission are demanding the area be reinstated.

This follows what were unauthorised works being carried out at the site situated in the Drom Óir estate – commenced in advance of a planning application that city planners ruled out in July of last year.

A warning letter was issued by Galway City Council to Eircom – the company behind the mast – last month seeking the removal of the unauthorised concrete foundation which was installed in April 2021.

Local area councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) told the Galway City Tribune he has had several representations from residents in both Drom Óir and Leitir Burca concerned that the company is stalling in order to lodge another application.

“An application for retention on the site was refused by the Council last July and a warning letter has since been issued seeking the removal of the concrete base.

“This was an unauthorised development and it is incumbent on Eircom to remove it and return the ground to how it was before they started,” said Cllr Lyons.

In June of last year – amid mounting opposition from locals to the 12-metre mast – Eircom lodged an application for retention.

Planners refused on the basis that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Dozens of objections were submitted by local residents who described the proposed mast as an eyesore and estimated that it would devalue their properties by up to €100,000.

Cllr Lyons said the company had sought to install the mast ‘by stealth’ and having been refused – with the window for an appeal to An Bord Pleanála long since passed – it was high time the area was restored to its former status.

“The company thought all they had to do was run roughshod over the local residents but in the end, they had to make a planning application. They first sought planning permission and later had to change that to retention, because they’d already commenced unauthorised works.

“There is a fear locally that another application may be made but they have been refused permission and so they must reinstate the site to what it was. They were refused almost a year ago and they have had ample time to do it,” said the Knocknacarra-based councillor.

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Department stresses ‘strategic importance’ of controversial UHG helipad



From the Galway City Tribune – A Government department has lobbied Galway City Council to recognise the “strategic importance” of the helicopter landing pad at University Hospital Galway.

The Department of Transport, which encompasses Irish Coast Guard, said the Council should give “due consideration” to the helipad at the hospital while it drafts the future planning blueprint for the city.

In a submission to the local authority’s City Development Plan 2023-29, an unnamed official in the Department of Transport said: “The Department recommends that the development plan is cognisant of the HLS (Helicopter Landing Site) at UHG and recognises its strategic importance in supporting a wide range of stakeholders and recommends that due consideration is taken of any specific HSE recommendation regarding safety and spatial requirements including simultaneous use by more than one emergency aviation service provider.”

The helicopter landing site in Shantalla, at the rear of UHG, was installed as temporary infrastructure on public land borrowed from the local community.

A commitment was given by Saolta – which operates the city’s public hospitals – that the site would be returned to the community within six months, but the “temporary” facility has now been in situ for nine years.

The matter was raised at a recent HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting, by Councillor Martina O’Connor (Green).

Joe Hoare, Assistant National Director for HSE Capital and Estates West, said: “The options in respect of helipad facilities adjacent to University Hospital Galway, both in the immediate future and in the longer term are currently under review.

“The HSE intends to engage with Galway City Council in the coming months and put forward proposals for consideration. An update can be provided in due course.”

The Department of Transport has now intervened and outlined the importance of the facility, which it said is used regularly by its Coast Guard helicopters.

In its submission, the Department said the helicopter landing site is used for inter-hospital transfers from Sligo and Letterkenny, and other helicopter emergency medical services.

It is also used for emergency medical transfers from off-shore islands, an search and rescue missions on inland waterways, hills and mountains in support of Gardaí; emergency medical transfers from coastal and offshore search and rescues, and medical evacuations of vessels at sea; and emergency transfer of patients requiring access to the Hyperbaric Unit at UHG.

The facility is also used by the Air Corps as part of its Emergency Air Ambulance Service.

The submission said that last year the Coast Guard conducted 516 helicopter missions along the West coast, including maritime search and rescue (282), medical transfers from the offshore islands (146), Air Ambulance Service (74) and others.

It said a “significant portion of these missions have involved the direct use” of the UHG site, or incorporated it as an alternate landing site for planning purposes.

The “intensity of use” of the facility was influenced by UHG being a ‘model four hospital’ providing 24/7 acute surgery, acute medicine, and critical care including cardiology services for the west and North West region, from Donegal to Galway. It also has the National Hyperbaric Unit, which treats patients with medical grade oxygen.

In the five-page submission, the Department also draws the City Council’s attention to legislative changes since the last City Development Plan, which need to be incorporated into the new plan.

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