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Connacht Tribune

Life on the bus is just the business!

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Richard Barton and his Wild Atlantic Bus. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Lifestyle – It was once a school bus working the busy streets of London, but hard work and vision turned an old double-decker into luxury accommodation with all the attributes of a classy hotel… a stone’s throw from the Wild Atlantic Way. THOMAS HACKETT meets the proud owner.

A 7kw wood-burning stove occupies the heart of the Wild Atlantic Bus, with hardwood floors and fine upholstery throughout to ensure it’s a cosy refuge from the west’s unforgiving climate – all parked up overlooking Lough Corrib, outside the village of Oughterard.

Where once schoolkids jumped over seats, there is now a living space that can comfortably fit six people, with three bedrooms, a toilet, bath, washer and dryer – and a laptop friendly workplace.

Richard Barton is the owner and operator of the Wild Atlantic Bus, and the man responsible for its reinvention. “It’s alternative living, but sure you could live in it,” he says.

And while he is clearly a man with a vision, the irony is that the Wild Atlantic Bus was not originally intended to act as guest accommodation at all.

Instead, Richard converted the old bus in order to have room for his two daughters when they came to visit – but after much encouragement from those around him, he soon came to realize the potential the bus had as a boarding house for guests.

“People were telling me how amazing it was and how it would be a grand Airbnb or rental, so I said yes, let’s create an experience,” he says.

The conversion was no easy task however. “It was really labour of love,” said Richard. “It took me about a year; a lot of time went into it and I did probably 98% of it myself.”

All the carpentry and electrical work in the bus was carried out by Richard, but the design process was a team effort.

“I have two fabulous daughters and they love interior design so they were brilliant.”

Its owner believes that he now boasts the first guest lodging in Ireland to incorporate a bus into its design – and although he expended much effort on the interior of the bus, Richard did not neglect its surroundings either.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan

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Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan

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Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley

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Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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