One of the directors of the Irish Sailing Association and driving force behind Galway Bay Sailing Club, Pierce Purcell, believes the city and county are losing out on millions of euro every year because marina facilities are inadequate to cater for sailing boats, yachts and cruisers.
In the wake of Annalise Murphy’s superb silver medal win in the Olympics, it is hoped that further medals can be secured in the sport of sailing in the years to come. However, Mr. Purcell believes there needs to be a great degree of investment into marina facilities in Galway if it is to come up to standard.
“It is not all about high performance necessarily,” he says. “Galway has been very far behind the rest of the country in terms of facilities and access. Access and participation is my area on the board and we have been working very hard this year to try and get people onto the water. And we have to work a bit harder at the access.
“The facilities in Galway are very poor. We badly need a marina in Galway. We could do with a marina out here (in Oranmore). At the moment, the marina in Rossaveal is being expanded, which is good. It is a start. They started out with 30 berths and it should be 120 berths next year. So, that is something.”
Mr Purcell highlights that, last year, West of Ireland Off-Shore Racing Association (WIORA) ran its showpiece event out of the docks in the city and, supported by the Harbour Company, was hugely successful. In other words, when facilities are put in place, the region benefits.
“Next year, for the first time on the West Coast, the West of Ireland Off-shore Racing Association is going to be held in the Aran Islands under the auspices of a new club there. It is a very small club; it is just starting up. All the clubs in the West coast though are encouraging to have the event there. So, we will badly need facilities to be put in place.
“The Government has spent €40 something million on facilities out there. There was a wonderful opportunity to provide a few marina pontoons for all kinds of boat users as well but, sadly, this didn’t happen. So, it is going to take a huge effort to provide facilities for all those boats which are going to turn up next year, in July, in Kilronan.”
For Galway Bay Sailing Club’s part, they boast of 400 members between the various classes, dinghies to cruisers; juniors to adults to seniors; from leisure sailing to competitive racing. In all, 300 people alone around the bay have cruiser boats registered while approximately 14 of those affiliated to Galway Bay also cater for wheelchair users or accessible sailors.
“Our Commodore, Gary Allen, is an accessible sailor and, overall, we have a very enthusiastic group who turn up and go out on a regular basis. It is not uncommon to see a line of wheelchairs at the top of a slip on a Thursday evening. Mark Kelly, Henry Lupton, Marina Lupton and Lorraine Scully are great supporters of it.”
However, Mr. Purcell, who owns Purcell Marine in Clarinbridge, stresses it is not just for local users that he would like to see facilities developed. “The club would be very supportive of Galway Harbour development because this would bring in a huge number of events.
“We are constantly meeting people around the country who say Galway is a long way up and that we need better facilities if we are to attract people. Look what the Volvo Ocean Race did for Galway! It was fantastic. It was absolutely brilliant. If the facilities are there people will come. The modern sailor is expecting these kind of facilities nowadays.”
Consequently, he feels Galway is losing out economically due to the lack of adequate facilities in hotspots around Galway’s coastline. “I think a lot can be done with the facilities around, not only in terms of marinas,” continues Mr. Purcell.
“I am always watching out for camper vans these days and I can never understand why we don’t have better facilities for them because they will come and spend money in our towns and villages. We have wonderful natural amenities here, but we have been very slow to develop them. It is the same with our marinas,” he added.
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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.