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New books offer valuable insights into Irish history

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Arts Week with Judy Murphy

As we prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of 1916, there’s a real danger of overkill – no pun intended – and much of this has been driven by the government.

But there’s a lot of good stuff happening too, and that includes The Easter Rebellion 1916 – A New Illustrated History.

This is the work of Athenry historian Conor McNamara, who has been appointed to NUIG as its 1916 Scholar in Residence and it features a wide selection of photographs and documents that have not been widely seen outside academic circles previously.

It’s an area with which he is well familiar as he was senior researcher for the University of Notre Dame’s 1916 television series, to be broadcast in March 2016. (next March)

He gives a comprehensive and accessible account of the Rising, both the lead-up and the results, with each chapter being prefaced with a relevant poem by W B Yeats.

That information gives context to the illustrations, which range from drawings by Willie Pearse – Pádraig Pearse’s brother, who was executed after the Rising – and an invitation to a Convention Céilídh at Dublin’s Parnell Square in 1915.

There are also photos and letters from lesser-known victims of 1916, including a sad image of dead and wounded soldiers from the British Army’s Sherwood Foresters on Mount Street. The Battle of Mount Street, as this incident became known, saw the Irish Volunteers achieve their single biggest military success of the Easter Rising – the battle saw 240 casualties.

There are also individual photos of the four Volunteers who lost their lives in that battle. Conor McNamara gives a detailed account of the various battle sites in Dublin, with illustrations of the human cost. There’s a grainy photo of children queuing for food – remarkably chirpy in spite of the chaos around them.

The physical consequences are captured too, with many representations of a devastated Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street). There’s also a wonderful photo of the GPO after the Rising. The exterior is almost perfect, but there’s no roof and inside is a shell. The caption informs readers that it had been re-opened to the public earlier in 1916, following extensive renovations.

The book is full of such nuggets of information and has fascinating details about those involved in the Rising, including their final communications to loved ones. Éamon de Valera, who commanded the Irish Volunteers at Boland’s Mill during Easter Week, and later had his death sentence commuted, is photographed being escorted from the building. Unshaven and unbowed, he is flanked by three soldiers bearing rifles – two of them just boys.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Former hotel won’t be ring-fenced for college

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No designation....Corrib Great Southern during demolition.

The site of the former Corrib Great Southern will no longer be ring-fenced for educational purposes if a clause removed in a draft of the next development plan is eventually adopted.

A motion by Mayor Colette Connolly proposed earmarking one-third of the six-acre Dublin Road site for educational use as well as research or collaborative ventures between third level colleges and industry.

Mayor Connolly said her proposal reinstates the text of the current plan reserving a portion of any planned development for education.

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) was supportive of the motion, the Independent councillor she told a planning meeting convened to collate a draft of the plan.

Councillor Declan McDonell (Ind) said GMIT had recently purchased the home of the Galwegians Rugby Club at Glenina for €9 million and were progressing developments at the Cluain Mhuire site and a proposed Centre of Excellence for Health, Sport, and Marine Science at Murrough.

The former hotel had been offered to GMIT for €3.75m by NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) but they had to pass because they could not come up with the money.

“So I fail to see how they could come up with the money to buy two acres for educational purposes – therefore we could be left with a derelict site for years,” he warned.

Cllr Noel Larkin (Ind) told the meeting he was in favour of an expanding GMIT but agreed the site which only recently saw the demolition of a major eyesore could be left derelict for another decade if developers were hamstrung by what could be built.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Multi-storey car park proposal still on the table

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No multi-storey...the existing Dyke Road car park.

A proposal to remove from the Draft City Development Plan an objective to replace the existing car park at Dyke Road with a multi-storey alternative has been voted down by councillors.

Those opposing the motion argued that regardless of improved public transport and cycle networks, there would always be a requirement for parking in the city centre.

The motion, proposed by Cllr Niall Murphy (Green) and seconded by Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind), sought to take out a line in the plan which stated the replacement of the 550-space car park with a multi-storey “would enable more efficient use of the land”.

This forms part of the planned redevelopment of the area which is to be led by the Land Development Agency (LDA) and is mooted to include residential units, retail space and potentially a hotel.

Cllr Murphy said as improved public transport came on stream, the requirement for parking in the centre of the city should reduce, with the long-awaited Park and Ride rollout the ‘preferred option’.

“It is prejudicial to state [in the development plan] that some of that area will be used by multi-storey parking – that should be decided as part of our negotiations with the LDA,” said Cllr Murphy.

Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) opposed the motion and said long-term parking, such as that currently provided for on the Dyke Road, should be maintained as there would be a continued demand for it.

“We need a certain amount of parking for people working in town. Park and Ride will not be available for all, like those who come in on the Headford Road and the Tuam Road,” he said.

Cllr Terry O’Flaherty agreed and said workers from areas such as Annaghdown and Corrandulla had no access to public transport and required their car to get to work.

Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said the population of the city was set to double in the coming years and even by maintaining the existing number of spaces in Dyke Road, the Council would be in effect halving the overall availability.

“People need to get to town and not everybody can hop on a bike – not everybody has that luxury,” he said.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway’s vacant homes and shops

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Councillor Níall McNelis (Lab)

There were in excess of 1,100 vacant commercial and residential properties in Galway City in 2020, a new report has found – a ‘staggering figure’ which one local representative described as ‘frightening’.

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly’s (NWRA) report on Regional Vacancy and Dereliction has revealed a worsening problem in the city – highlighting a 15% increase in the level of commercial vacancy since 2015 and a 5% increase in the number of empty homes.

Some 690 commercial properties were lying idle in the city in September 2020 – many of which could be used to increase the housing stock according to the report.

The West has more than double the national average of vacant commercial space, something that is “undermining the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of the region while exasperating attempts to deliver sustainable settlement patterns”.

“Many of our towns and villages continue to experience high vacancy and dereliction rates along their main streets, with these empty residential and commercial properties providing extensive opportunities to improve housing supply, ensure our residents live closer to key public services and workplaces,” states the report.

A further 444 residential units were also vacant, despite the city experiencing a homelessness crisis and a severe shortage of housing.

Local Councillor Níall McNelis (Lab) said these figures were ‘staggering’ – particularly as the situation is likely to have worsened due to the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.

“A lot of these commercial units would probably be better used as residential units and I believe that is something local government could sort out – if it was given the power to do so.

“Instead, national government has far too much of a hold on it. It would require national legislation but I think we need to look at taxing vacant units if no effort is being made to fill them,” said Cllr McNelis.

There were several cases where ‘very large investors’ had bought up these properties for ‘half nothing’ and left them to rot while there were people in the city crying out for living space, he continued.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from

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