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Jobs are secure as four-star hotel goes into receivership

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Date Published: {J}

BY ENDA CUNNINGHAM

ALL 130 members of staff at the plush four-star Clayton Hotel in Galway have been told their jobs are secure, after Ulster Bank appointed a receiver to the business this week.

The owner told the Connacht Tribune he was “crushed and devastated” having lost the business on Tuesday morning.

However, receiver Kieran Wallace of KPMG said the hotel will continue trading as normal, and he is confident it will have a profitable future.

All bookings and deposits for functions will be honoured, and the day-to-day running of the hotel will not be affected.

The hotel, which was owned by developer Shane Connolly, had been trading extremely well in recent months.

The receiver said: “Unfortunately the Clayton, like many other hotels throughout the country, has been affected by events outside of its control.

“However, it remains a sound business with an established reputation for quality and luxury, and we are confident that working with the hotel’s staff and management team that it will continue to trade successfully and profitably into the future,” he said.

Mr Wallace was appointed receiver over Chequer Hill Investments and Three Corner Holdings Ltd, which own the Clayton.

Despite restructuring his business interests several years ago to protect the hotel, the collapse of Mr Connolly’s Marcon Developments last month caused a domino effect and prompted Ulster Bank to move to protect its position in relation to the Clayton.

The bank now ‘owns’ the Clayton and it will be run by Mr Wallace as a going concern.

An emotional Shane Connolly, who lost the hotel on Tuesday morning, told the Connacht Tribune: “This has taken a lot out of me emotionally, financially, personally and professionally. When you build something out of nothing, nurture it and develop it, then you have to give it away, it crushes you. I have to think about the 130 workers and their families.

“We are all devastated. My main objective is to ensure that the hotel has minimum impact. It is a situation where there are no winners. It’s primarily due to a hostile court case against my development company [Marcon], which I am legally prevented from commenting on.

“I am not in the business of apportioning blame. Suffice it to say that the current economic global downturn has choked the life out of the development market, which unfortunately and regrettably has brought the Clayton into its web.

“The unwavering hard work of each and every current staff member at the Clayton has to count for something. It is my dearest wish that the hotel continues to trade. The hardest experience was informing the staff,” said Mr Connolly.

A statement from the hotel reads: “The hotel continues to trade as normal. All of the hotel’s 130 full and part-time staff will continue to be employed. There will be no interruption in trade and all customer bookings and deposits will be honoured.”

Last month, Marcon Developments collapsed into liquidation with debts of almost €20m. Mr Connolly was among the creditors and was owed around €8m.

The ‘house of cards’ fell when Mr Connolly was unable to reach agreement with John Sisk & Sons over a €2m debt – relating to a development site off the main street in Oughterard – and a liquidator was then appointed.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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