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Luxury ship sails back into Cill Chiaráin on ultimate maritime tour

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Connemara’s Cill Chiaráin Bay played host on Thursday to a very special group of visitors who are enjoying the ultimate tour of Ireland’s coastline – at up to €15,000 a pop.

They are on board the Orion, one of the National Geographic Society’s fleet of expedition ships, which is returning to the west, having sailed into Cill Chiaráin Bay with a different group last week as part of their two, eight-day circumnavigation tours of the “endlessly magnificent” coast of Ireland.

BY JOHN CARLOS

The Society operates hundreds of similar trips each year to 60 destinations in the world spanning the seven continents.

The ship is a fully stabilized vessel equipped with an ice-reinforced hull, enabling it to navigate polar ice as well as the smaller harbours of Europe.

“The expeditions aim to fulfil the Society’s mission to inspire people to care about the planet by providing meaningful opportunities to explore it,” according to the Society.

Living accommodation aboard the Orion.

Living accommodation aboard the Orion.

The state-of-the-art Orion, named presumably after the constellation group of stars, is the newest addition to the National Geographic’s fleet.

Boasting exquisite lounge and dining areas and sumptuous bedrooms, the vessel can accommodate 102 guests in 53 spacious cabins, all with ocean views.

Costing between €7,000 and €15,000 per person sharing, the proceeds “support the Society’s efforts to increase global understanding through exploration, education and scientific research”.

There is an outdoor café, state-of-the-art lecture theatre, and a library. Meals are served in an informal setting, offering international cuisine inspired by their ports of call, and guests will sample some of the local fare while touring Ireland.

For the more energetic, there are fitness and spa treatment rooms; a whirlpool, hot tub and plunge pool. There is also a full-time doctor and a wellness specialist on board.

Sophisticated video equipment, snorkelling and diving gear and a dive-master are provided. And a National Geographic photographer and photography instructor are also available to guests.

The ship operates an ‘open bridge’ policy encouraging guests to meet the captain and officers.

The Orion meets strict specifications for environmental protection, and their on-board waste management systems meet the stringent Antarctic operational standards enabling them to travel to the most pristine environments.

Plenty of scope for socialising on board the Orion.

Plenty of scope for socialising on board the Orion.

A host of advanced design features and technology ensures sustainable marine environmental practices.

Fourteen Zodiac inflatable rafts ensure quick disembarkation and offer the ideal transport for up-close exploration.

And for those who prefer to stay dry, the Orion is equipped with a glass-bottom Zodiac that enables remarkably clear observations undersea.

Each Ireland expedition is coordinated by Con Moriarty’s Hidden Ireland Tours, Kerry, under the guidance of Director of Operations, Ann Curran.

The Orion sails south from Dublin visiting various points of interest along the coast, including Ballycotton and Kinsale.

Then, heading up along the Wild Atlantic Way, they visit Skellig Michael, Dingle; the Aran Islands; Cliffs of Moher; Connemara; Donegal; Derry and The Giant’s Causeway, Antrim.

In Connemara, they are brought on cultural tours of the region, which can include a spot of fishing, courtesy of the Lough Inagh Hotel.

The Orion returned to Cill Chiaráin Bay on Wednesday, mooring opposite Cnoc Leitir Caladh with a new group of guests.

They called into Cill Chiaráin village on Thursday, where they met some of the locals.

They also pursued outdoor activities like hill walking, cycling, and cultural tours, and later in the evening, attend a night of traditional music in Tigh Cadhain’s bar and bistro.

The National Geographic tour leaves Ireland next week and will most likely return next summer.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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.

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