The owners of the Corrib Great Southern have been granted an extension of time to demolish the dilapidated hotel.
It was once one of the top locations for weddings and conferences in the West of Ireland – now the fixtures and fittings have been stripped, many of its windows smashed and it has been subjected to a series of arson attacks.
Planning permission for the demolition of the once landmark property was due to expire at the beginning of March.
However, the Comer Group and husband-and-wife team Padraic and Martina McHale from Clonbur sought an extra five years for the demolition plan.
Through their investment vehicles Welcorrib Ltd and Trigo Property Company Ltd, they told city planners that the inability to source funding for the demolition was beyond their control – they only purchased the premises in 2013 (for around €3.5m). It was previously owned by Gerry Barrett’s Edward Holdings, who paid around €30m for it in 2006.
“The inability to source funding for the [demolition] was beyond the control of the applicant and was a result of the decline in economic conditions. However, having regard to reducing costs and, hopefully, the ‘bottoming out’ of the economic recession, as well as the need to address the current condition of the former hotel building, our client is confident that the proposed [demolition] will achieve the required funding to implement in the coming years.
“The funding issue arose primarily as a function of the high costs associated with the proposed development and the poor state of the commercial sector during the financial crisis since 2008,” the application read.
Planners agreed to extend permission, but for two years rather than five.
“It is considered that a period of five years is very excessive, in terms of providing sufficient time to demolish the building, as granted in 2010,” Assistant Planner Peter Staunton said.
Last year, Galway City Council served notice on the owners of the building of their intention to add it to the Register of Derelict Sites. In a six-month period last year, there were four arson attacks there. The Comers appeared in 16th place in the recent Sunday Independent Rich List for 2015, with a wealth of €825m.
Padraic McHale owns McHale Engineering in Mayo with his brother Martin – the brothers appeared at Number 109 with an estimated wealth of €115m.
Portumna seeks slice of Downton Abbey action!
The release of its first silver screen drama has seen the spread of Downton Abbey fever all over again – and one local Junior Minister wants to see Galway cash in on its new connection.
Because, according to Ciaran Cannon, the appearance in the movie of Princess Mary – a visitor to the fictional Crawley family seat – creates a direct Downton link to Portumna Castle.
And the Minister for the Diaspora and International Development is urging the tourism sector in Portumna to make use of the town`s connection to boost visitor numbers.
“Fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ will be flocking to movie theatres in droves to see the hit drama revived for the big-screen and interestingly, from the point of view of East Galway`s history, the movie version features the real-life character of Princess Mary,” he said.
Because the real-life character of Princess Mary visited Portumna in 1928; her husband was the last owner of Portumna Castle prior to it being acquired by the State.
The new cinematic outing for Downton Abbey sees the servants and aristocrats of the famous house receive a visit from King George V and his wife Queen Mary, prompting much panic and excitement.
One of the most prominent royals featured in the film is that of Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood – played by Peaky Blinders actress Kate Phillips.
The real Princess Mary was the only daughter of King George V and his wife Queen Mary. She had two older brothers – the future kings Edward VIII and George VI, the latter being the father of Queen Elizabeth II.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway mum on signs of heart valve disease – and how to get back to full life
Una Fahey had spent two days in bed floored by a vicious ‘flu – or so she thought. Her youngest son Enda was to play in the Galway County Minor Hurling Quarter-Final that day in 2017 but she was unable to focus on the match, she so ill with a high temperature and sore bones.
“I wouldn’t be one to go to the doctor with the ‘flu because you could spread germs – I don’t know what made me go but I didn’t want to be in bed anymore and wanted to get better quicker,” she reflects from her home in Kilbeacanty, outside Gort.
She attended her local GP clinic which was staffed by a doctor on call that Saturday. Her condition was so serious that an ambulance was called and she was dispatched to University Hospital Galway.
Tests revealed she had bacterial endocarditis – or heart valve disease. Within 48 hours she had both her mitral and aortic valves replaced with mechanical valves.
Her illness came as a complete shock. She was 57, healthy, and looking forward to some free time as the last of her five boys was leaving home to go to college.
“I had no warning really. I’m still not 100%. I get very tired – tiredness is actually the worst thing about it,” Una reveals.
Croí, the Heart Disease and Stroke Charity, is urging people aged 65 and over not to mistake the symptoms of Heart Valve Disease for old age during European Heart Valve Disease Awareness week.
Read full interview and advice in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Taoiseach backs full disclosure on numbers earmarked for Oughterard centre
TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has made a Dáil response to the ongoing controversy over the possible location of a Direct Provision Centre for asylum seekers close to the town of Oughterard at the now closed-down Connemara Gateway Hotel.
In response to a question on Tuesday evening from Labour Party TD, Joan Burton – who asked why there had been no communication with local people on the issue – the Taoiseach said he agreed with her on the need for consultation with local residents.
“Briefly, regarding Oughterard, I agree with Deputy Burton that there should be communication between the Department of Justice and Equality and residents on what plans, if any, there are to accommodate asylum seekers there,” said Deputy Varadkar.
The Taoiseach said that there were good examples of where good communications had occurred in relation to the provision of such facilities in Lisdoonvarna in Clare and in Wicklow town where ‘some fears had been allayed and some scare stories corrected’.
“I am told that has not happened yet in Oughterard because any plans or proposals to accommodate asylum seekers in that particular town are only at the initial stages and are not developed to the point where the Department is in a position to consult residents.
“If the plans get to that point, I am sure it [communication] will happen. Wicklow town and Lisdoonvarna are very good examples of where there may have been an initial reaction which was negative but now people have come around and welcomed people from other countries into their towns,” said the Taoiseach.
See full story and further coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.