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Masterplan for ‘contaminated’ South Park to be unveiled



Date Published: 23-Oct-2009

A NEW ‘masterplan’ for a popular city centre park – parts of which had been officially closed for two years due tometal contamination – will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Galway City Council is nearing completion of the process of setting out a framework document that will be used to guide all future plans for South Park, at the Claddagh.

South Park or ‘The Swamp’ as it is known locally, hit the headlines in 2006 when it emerged that traces of arsenic and mercury were found in the area. There were concerns at the time that the toxic findings posed a threat to children playing in the area and parts of the park were cordoned off from the public.

A spokesperson for the City Council said the restrictions were removed after consultation with the HSE earlier this year but remedial work at South Park, such as ‘capping’ the contaminated areas as a long-term solution to the problem, has not yet taken place.

A Council spokesperson said the “remediation of South Park will be informed by the masterplan”. The ‘masterplan’ will be brought before the Council’s Environment SPC Committee meeting in the coming weeks and will then be voted on by city councillors.

The first stage of the plan’s process, which includes shortlisting consultants, is complete. The Council are currently liaising with South Park Action Committee (SPAC), which is made up of local residents and community groups, on the second stage of the plan including setting out a vision for the area and preparing a ‘tender brief’.

Councillor Catherine Connolly (Ind), who says she is keeping a “close eye” on the Council’s progress on the remedial work which has been delayed, has asked that South Park be declared an area of special amenity because of its outstanding natural beauty and its special recreational value.

Declaring South Park a special amenity area would need Ministerial approval. She says the City Council had previously dismissed her call and argued that designating the area as ‘special amenity’ could hamper any future amenity development in the park but the Independent councillor says this may actually be a good thing.

“I am asking the Council again to declare South Park an area of special amenity. The park was donated to the city by the Carnegie Trust, and my proposal would protect South Park from development.

“Any development planned should be in keeping with a special amenity area. I think things like a full natural looped cycle and rollerblade path would be ideal at South Park,” she said.

A recreation needs study commissioned by the Council a few years ago identified that there was a need for an event centre, which would be a permanent structure, at South Park. But Cllr Connolly says she will oppose any such structure and will fight at committee stages not to have it included in the master plan.

Meanwhile, Cllr Connolly has also asked the Council to explore the possibility of providing an organic garden on Mutton Island. The lighthouse at Mutton Island is currently being restored and refurbished with new windows in a partnership betweenGalway Civic Trust, Galway City Council and FÁS.

Cllr Connolly,who is a member of the Civic Trust, says there is room on the island for a walled garden that would be looked after by the heritage organisation. She has asked the Council to investigate if it is possible to turn this green area into an organic garden.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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