Date Published: 27-Oct-2009
THE developer who owns the former Corrib Great Southern Hotel on the Dublin Road has no immediate plans for the site, despite an application before city planners to demolish it.
And the site could now lie dormant for several years, despite previous proposals that it could be used as a temporary Park and Ride, and would eventually become a science and technology facility linked to GMIT.
A spokesperson for Gerry Barrett’s Edward Holdings told the Galway City Tribune that while there have been approaches in the past, there are no development plans in the pipeline.
“It is a straightforward application to demolish the hotel and tidy up the site. There have been requests for it to be used as a carpark in the past, but we have no immediate plans for development there,” the spokesperson said.
The company previously indicated the site was being considered on a long-term basis as a “science and technology educational facility”. At the moment, the site is zoned for residential use and a proposal earlier this year to have it rezoned for CI (commercial and industrial use) was withdrawn after it was opposed by City Manager Joe MacGrath.
However, the zoning issue is expected to be revisited in the context of the 2011 City Development Plan. That, coupled with the submissions process and the subsequent planning and appeals process, means the site could lie dormant for up to five years.
Mr Barrett bought the hotel, along with the Great Southerns in Eyre Square and in Killarney in 2006 for a figure believed to be around €130 million, but later sold on the Killarney hotel for around €40m.
Under the terms of the sale, Mr Barrett changed the name to the Corrib Heights and kept it running as a hotel for one year. At the time of purchase, the said he had no intention of keeping it on as a hotel. It closed its doors in September 2007.
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
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