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Connacht Tribune

Minister rules out reopening of Western Rail Corridor

Declan Tierney



A Government Minister has rubbished any suggestion that the Western Rail Corridor should be reopened to trains – claiming instead that the provision of a greenway from Athenry all the way to Enniskillen was the most logical option.

And Minister Ciaran Cannon says that “a small cohort” of individuals who are advocating rail traffic on the line were doing “a disservice” to a lot of people who could benefit from a greenway.

The Galway East TD has always been a staunch advocate of a greenway being provided along the rail corridor from Athenry to Tuam onto Claremorris and beyond.

Minister Cannon said that there will not be any trains running along the Western Rail Corridor “in our lifetime” and he also went on to dismiss the prospect of it being used for freight traffic.

He said that the biggest rail freight company in the country had recently scaled back their demand for a service between Ballina and Waterford Port to just one a week and now there was no service required.

Minister Cannon said that the development of the motorway network had resulted in rail freight now being in low demand.

He added that the opening of motorway between Tuam and Limerick reduced the requirement of rail. He said that this will be extented to Cork and possibly Sligo in the future.

Greenway campaigners are delighted with Minister Cannon’s strongest statement to date on the controversial issue. He said that the Ennis to Athenry section of passenger railway was losing €55,000 every week.

He said that there is now a fantastic opportunity available to create a greenway that would prove a huge economic benefit to North Galway, Mayo and Sligo on a State-owned track.

Fellow Galway East TD Sean Canney has been a firm opponent of a greenway along the Western Rail Corridor and he is supported in his stance by a number of councillors who have been successful in preventing a feasibility study being commissioned on a greenway.

Tuam’s Cllr Shaun Cunniffe welcomed Minister Cannon’s statement saying that it made absolutely no sense in reopening the railway in view of the roads network that have been provided.

“The prospect of trains running on the rail corridor was never going to happen and I am glad that the Minister has acknowledged this. It is time to dismiss the arguments for the reopening of the rail track and just move forward with a greenway.

“It can be done in a stage-by-stage process with the Athenry to Tuam section kicking the whole greenway off and even this would be a huge economic boost to both towns”, Cllr Cunniffe added.

Brendan Quinn of the Western Rail Trail in Sligo also expressed his gratitude that a senior Government politician is firmly behind their greenway proposals.

“Minister Cannon and his colleague in Galway East Anne Rabbitte of Fianna Fail are both on record stating their support for the Western Rail Trail from Athenry north to County Mayo

“Minister Cannon went on to say the only part of the country not benefiting from greenway investment was East Galway because a small cohort of people are blocking the greenway from happening because they still think the railway is going to come,” Mr Quinn added.

Connacht Tribune

Galway Real Estate have attractive site for sale on the Aran Islands




Oghill, Inishmore, Aran Islands.

Galway Real Estate have an attractive site/property for sale at Oghill, Inishmore, Aran Islands.

The site is approximately c.150 square metres. (c.1600 sq. ft.) on c.1 acre with planning permission to convert to a dwelling house and fit a new waste water treatment system. Planning Ref: 17/1284. There are two years  left on planning. The planning is for a proposed 4 bedrooms, kitchen, dining/room, laundry/room, bathroom. This is a wonderful opportunity to get a property ready to go. Offers in excess of €125,000 considered.

Full details from Paddy Flynn 0872557618 or Galway Real Estate on 091565488 or email:

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Connacht Tribune

Aran to welcome Ireland’s largest domestic passenger ferry




Saoirse na Farraige

The largest domestic passenger ferry in the country is making its journey from the Far East to the Far West – ready to commence service from Galway to the three Aran Islands.

The 40-metre ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ represents a massive investment – and vote of confidence – in island tourism on the part of the owners, Aran Island Ferries.

Commissioned in January 2019, this sixth member of their fleet has a capacity of 400 – and it is expected to arrive in Galway Bay from Hong Kong in October.

The vessel departed Hong Kong last week, embarking on a 2,500 mile journey to Galway Bay – inside the hold of a heavy lift ship called Svenja’”.

Saoirse na Farraige has at least three more stops to make before arriving in Galway Bay at the end of October – and it won’t not enter service until next spring.

Aran Island Ferries Sales and Marketing Manager, Aine McLoughlin, said that they were looking forward to seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands, enjoying the increased capacity, accessibility, and safety features.

“We are really looking forward to officially launching ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ next year and seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands on board our new ferry,” she said.

Saoirse na Farraige will serve all three islands from Rossaveel – with a journey time of 40 minutes to Inis Mór, 50 minutes to Inis Meáin, and 55 minutes to Inis Oírr.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in now – or download our digital edition at

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Connacht Tribune

Emergency Department upgrade will happen at UHG – but it’s complicated

Denise McNamara



The current ED at UHG.

Revamping the emergency department at UHG will involve three separate projects – leading to the hospital’s chief describing the process as ‘very complex’.

City Councillor John Connolly (FF) said the people of Galway were concerned that the new emergency department – like the ring road – would never happen, as it appeared to be so bound up in red tape.

Joe Hoare, assistant national director of estates in HSE West, told the Regional Health Forum West meeting that that outpatients department adjacent to the emergency department was being redeveloped to create more capacity for streaming Covid patients from non-Covid patients for the winter.

The outpatients department would be relocated to the Merlin Park campus. The design for this building would be completed within ten months with construction expected to begin in by last 2021 at the earliest.

An interim emergency department was the next priority so that the current building could be knocked to make way for the new state-of-the-art building, creating a new maternity department and paediatrics unit.

Since the budget for the new children’s hospital had blown out of all proportion, the rules over public projects over €100 million had changed and the Saolta hospital group had to ensure its business case for the massive project was ‘watertight’.

Mr Hoare said all three projects were moving in parallel, including the enabling works for the main build, which would take around 18 months to complete.

He described the project as Saolta’s ‘absolute top priority and was regarded as such by the national HSE organisation.

Head of Saolta, Tony Canavan, said the project was ‘big and very complex’ and required management to remain ‘very focused over a long time’.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in now – or download our digital edition at

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