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New owner of Piscatorial School is seeking redevelopment proposals

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The developer of Fort Eyre and Davorens Butchers in Shantalla is now turning his attention to Piscatorial House after purchasing the iconic Claddagh building for almost €600,000.

Michael Gibbons from the Westside is believed to have won over the Dominican Order not only with a fat cheque but by producing pictures of his sympathetic renovations of derelict properties which have been transformed into luxury apartments.

The developer is applying to turn the protected structure into high-end offices. But a source close to the businessman said he would welcome any proposal from Galway City Council or other cultural bodies to rent the space for a long-term project which would benefit the city.

The sale of the building, which had a guide price of €500,000, went ahead despite the chorus of disapproval which included local TD Catherine Connolly that such a historic structure would fall into private hands.

The school was founded by the Dominican Order in 1846 right at the height of the Great Famine to educate the children of the Claddagh; generations of boys were taught how to make and repair nets while girls were shown how to sew and spin as well as learning how to read and write. In recent years it housed the social welfare offices and subsequently Youthreach.

Its renovation will return the three-storey 4,800sqft building to its former glory and restore the giant statue on top, which was said to bless the fishermen as they left Galway Bay.

“This will be a very sympathetic restoration. This project is about minimal work, it needs a new roof but the original stairs will be retained, as much as possible the original materials and features will be used,” he said.

“The Dominicans were as much interested in the person and team who were bringing the building back to life as the bid and they gave a full account of work done before with details of the conservation engineers who would be involved.

“The group are long term investors rather than developers so if people on Galway 2020 or City Council came with an idea for the building, they’d be more than receptive to look at it.

Michael Gibbons developed Fort Eyre, an historic Georgian House and spire tower in Shantalla, and an adjacent derelict row of houses where Davorens Butchers used to trade, turning them into 19 apartments and a commercial unit.

All the apartments were let as soon as they were released onto the market, commanding rents of €900 for a one-bed and €1,200 for a two-bed.

He is currently applying to develop the nearby former Mace Store.

Connacht Tribune

Locals in fundraising drive to protect some of Connemara’s finest beauty spots

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The world-famous beaches Gurteen Bay and Dogs Bay will disappear unless work is carried out immediately to save them for the next generation.
A local conservation committee has been set up which is fundraising to carry out the work in September. They plan to remove the old fencing from the headland, which is dangerous for people and animals.
They will also want to install new fencing on the headland to keep animals off the sand dunes and to have clear access pathways to people to enjoy the dunes without causing them damage.
Sustainable chestnut fencing is then needed to re-establish the sand dunes and to save them from further collapse.
Finally the hope to replant marram grass to further stabalise the dunes.
Kieran Mullen, owner of the Gurteen Bay caravan and camping park, explained that the work was so urgent that they cannot wait another year to carry it out.
“Atlantic storms are becoming more frequent and powerful. If they find a weakness in the dunes a one metre gap is created. The next storm that widens to two and three metres and soon they’re gone forever,” he remarked.
“I know people might say I’m doing this because they’re part of my livelihood but these beaches are key to the bigger economy of Connemara. Everyone’s tied into tourism here – the shops, the builders. It only takes one influencer to post a picture on Instagram and the next week the place is packed.”
His father Pat, along with James Conneely and Joe Rafferty, undertook extensive projects such as planting marram grass, erecting fencing and stone gabions along one section of Dogs Bay beach back in the 1990s. They managed to protect and regenerate part of a highly degraded dune system.
“If it wasn’t for the huge amount of work they did back then, the beaches wouldn’t be here today. There was an Italian electrical company who came in and took away 50 tonnes of sand and my father stopped them at the gate and made them drop it off.
“They filmed Into The West here and the film donated some money to the beach and that’s how they paid for a lot of the work.”
The committee is meeting with planners to secure an exemption on planning for the work.
“Time is not on our side so that’s why we’ve gone ahead to raise the money and hope to get it done in September when the place is quieter.”
Both beaches, located outside Roundstone, regularly make the list of top 100 beaches of the world by travel guides.

To make a donation, visit GoFundMe page.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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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