The billionaire owners of the Shannon Oaks Hotel in Portumna – lying vacant since it was destroyed by fire in 2011 – have been asked to either redevelop the property themselves or sell it on to someone who will.
The Comer Group have come in for criticism for making promises late last year to reconstruct the hotel – and still not making any progress.
The Shannon Oaks Action Group said that the hotel’s restoration was necessary for the economic benefit of the town – and that Portumna had suffered financially from its absence.
The group have called on the Comers to make some moves towards the redevelopment of the hotel as it was an essential asset to the town.
Businessman Paul Dillon, who is Chairman of the Action Group, said that the owners of the Shannon Oaks gave a commitment back in October 2018 that they would be rebuilding on the site by the end of the first quarter of this when they had finished the refurbishment of the Shearwater Hotel in Ballinasloe which they also own.
He said that the final design for the redevelopment of the Shannon Oaks and an artist’s impression of what the hotel would look like.
“As we near the end of the first quarter of 2019, there is no sign of the builders or even the communication of the builders arriving on site for the rebuilding project.
“We would see this as not a good sign. Portumna is now going into its eighth year without a hotel and the Comer Property Group have the owned the hotel since 2015.
“Many promises over the four years of ownership have been made on the hotel being rebuilt but each time the company has let the region down.
“We fully expect the Comer Property Group to fulfil their recent promise made in October and November 2018 and start the rebuilding in the next couple of weeks as promised.
“We are hoping the Comers do fulfil their promise that they announced the redevelopment of the hotel with much fanfare and they even the attached pictures of what the new hotel wold look like,” Mr Dillon said.
He added that the only option left for the Comer Group is to either build the hotel or sell the property.
Luke Comer told The Connacht Tribune that the plans are to rebuild the hotel but he recently got a quote of €7 million to carry out the development which he said was excessive.
Local Councillor Jimmy McClearn has also expressed disappointment at the lack of progress on the hotel and described it as a necessary development for the economy of the town.
“It was generally hoped that work would have commenced by now and there is disappointment that this has not happened. And more concerning is the fact that there is not time scale for the works to commence,” Cllr McClearn added.
The Comers, originally from Glenamaddy, own some 40 hotels across the world including eight in this country.
Radio series a first for new An Spidéal production company
A host of Ireland’s finest musicians gathered in Galway’s new intimate arts space – and recorded ten weeks of special programmes that will go out on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta every Thursday, starting tonight.
Cuan an Cheoil is the first radio series produced by Stiúideo Cuan, the new arts venue and production company in the heart of An Spidéal.
The new ten-part series, kicking off tonight at 7pm, will feature ten of the country’s best-known musicians, who will join Hot House Flower Liam Ó Maonlaí each week to play and to chat with him about various aspects of music and life.
Liam describes the programmes as ‘a musical conversation’ between himself and his guests.
They were recorded in Stiúideo Cuan in An Spidéal in a relaxed and open atmosphere, an attempt to recreate the informality of a group of musicians playing together at home, as opposed to a concert setting. The idea is to allow the musicians the space to be creative, to improvise and to compose on the spot, and the musicians who took part in the series got great satisfaction and enjoyment out of the process.
Síle Denvir and Barry Kerr will join Liam for the first programme of the series on January 20. Síle, from Conamara, is a member of the group Líadan, and has also performed with the Chieftains. Barry Kerr, musician, composer and painter, is originally from Armagh but now living in Conamara.
Other musicians taking part in the series include Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh & Nia Byrne, Peadar Ó Riada & Mick O’Brien, Mary Bergin & Conor Connolly, Johnny Óg Connolly & Liam O’Connor, Róisín Chambers & Maitiú Ó Casaide, Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich & Niamh Varian-Barry, Rónán Ó Snodaigh & Myles O’Reilly, and Caoimhe & Séamus Ó Flatharta.
A visual stream for this programme will also be available online every week.
Stiúideo Cuan is a new creative arts and music centre based beside Ceardlann an Spidéil craft village in An Spidéal.
Founded by composer, fiddle-player and pianist Charlie Lennon and his daughter, fiddle-player Éilís Lennon, the studio has recently been redeveloped to enhance the facilities there which now include a performance venue, with rehearsal and production space, as well as recording and audio-visual post-production facilities.
Cuan an Cheoil will be broadcast on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta every Thursday from 7pm to 8.30pm, starting tonight. See www.rte.ie/rnag for further information or to listen back.
Athenry student makes wheelchair waves to create unique artwork
A young Athenry student has been making waves after his artistic endeavours endeared him to the nation.
Joshua Whelan, a First Year pupil at Clarin College in Athenry, has cerebral palsy – and a passion for art, which was revealed when he joined Serena Joyce’s art class a few months ago.
And he has now produced his first large artwork – an abstract interpretation of the Athenry town map, which he produced by using the wheels of his wheelchair to apply the paint.
It was testimony to Serena’s determination to find a way for him to make his mark – and she found inspiration from other wheelchair artists, like American artist Tom Hollenstein.
Serena enlisted the help of Martin O’Connell, Joshua’s special needs assistant, to produce the painting which now hangs proudly in Clarin College for all to see.
Martin steers the chair, but at Joshua’s direction as he tells Martin how he wants the wheelchair to move across the canvas.
When the painted was posted on social media, it drew a huge reaction and led to Joshua featuring on RTÉ News last week.
And Joshua’s mother Ingrid was understandably proud of her son.
“He’s amazing. It’s a credit to the school and Serena and Martin, and the support he’s had to help realise his skills and abilities,” she said.
NUIG distributing Covid test kits to students
Tens of thousands of antigen test kits are being provided to NUIG students alongside Project UniCoV as part of public health efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19.
From Monday 17 January, students will be able to collect packs at four locations across campus.
Professor Breda Smyth, Chief Investigator of Project UniCoV and HSE West Director of Public Health, urged students to avail of the kits as well as additional testing, by signing up to take part in Project UniCoV.
“Everyone attending campus needs to adhere to the basic public health measures in the first instance – including not coming to campus if you have symptoms and are supposed to be self-isolating or restricting movements.
“Being able to offer free antigen test kits on campus at NUI Galway and giving students the opportunity to take part in Project UniCov demonstrates how we can take a layered approach to public safety and the welfare of students and staff.”
Students can collect five tests at a time. They are being advised to test twice a week, three days apart. They are also being advised to self-isolate if they test positive or develop symptoms and to follow public health advice.
Students are also being encouraged to avail of the option for further free antigen and/or salvia PCR testing for twelve weeks in semester two. A special QR code is being made available to students to support the research.
NUI Galway students are also encouraged to get the vaccine booster, to continue to wear face coverings and sanitise hands. The University saw high levels of compliance from students with public health guidelines during the academic year and we thank them for that.
The distribution of free antigen test kits is funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.