Date Published: 10-Jan-2011
BY ENDA CUNNINGHAM
Uncertainty has been expressed about the finances of the Salthill Hotel by company auditors, who warned it will need access to continued support from its sister companies if it is to remain a ‘going concern’.
However, the owner of the hotel said there is “no immediate threat” to the hotel, the 110 jobs there, or any of his other companies.
Ricky Byrne, who owns the hotel, along with the Eyre Square and Victoria hotels in the city centre, is attempting to restructure bank debts of more than €40 million and has warned the group’s losses are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
A spokesperson for Mr Byrne confirmed to the Sentinel that talks are ongoing with the banks, but there is no immediate threat to the Salthill Hotel or any other company under R Byrne Concrete Ltd – the holding company for all the businesses.
The developer, from Rockbarton in Salthill, is already attempting to shore up funds by selling off a number of his prime properties. However, an oversupply of commercial property in Galway – including hotels – could be set to have an impact on his rental income.
According to the independent auditors’ report in the accounts for Salthill Court Hotel Limited (trading as the Salthill Hotel): “The financial statements have been prepared on the going concern basis, the validity of which depends on the company’s ability to continue to generate adequate profits to meet its commitments to its landlord and on the basis that the company will receive the continued support of other group companies if required. In view of the significance of the uncertainty, we consider that it should be drawn to your attention [the Companies Registration Office].”
The company leases the hotel from R Byrne Concrete Limited at an annual rent of €1.25m, and at the moment owes R Byrne Concrete €2.2m on an interest-free basis. However, the parent company has agreed not to call in the debt in the next 12 months.
Mr Byrne bought the hotel from the Murray family in 1999 for just under €5.4m.
A statement on behalf of the Salthill Hotel said the business has flourished since relaunch in 2008, and experienced a 23% increase in sales last year.
“With the ongoing support of its bankers, the hotel is currently refurbishing existing bedrooms and carrying out work on a new restaurant due to open in mid-March. The management and employees are greatly encouraged by the increase in repeat guests and referral business from new clients.
“As in any other business of this scale and size, we are in regular communication with our financial institutions,” the statement reads.
R Byrne Concrete Limited – the umbrella company for all of Mr Byrne’s business interests – has said it does not expect to be able to make capital repayments on its debts.The Byrne Hotel Group, which operates the Salthill Hotel, the Eyre Square Hotel and the Victoria Hotel as well as the Metro Hotel in Leicestershire, England, has bank debts of around €43.5m.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup
Date Published: 06-Mar-2013
New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit
A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes
Date Published: 11-Mar-2013
Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?
Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.
But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.
While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.
So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.
It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.
Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.
While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.
It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.
But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.