Figures released this week show that more than one in every seven commercial premises in Galway is lying empty – the second highest rate nationally.
And the figure was even worse in county towns such as Tuam and Loughrea, where around one in every five business premises is vacant.
According to a new report from GeoDirectory and DKM Economic Consultants, the total number of occupied commercial address points in Galway City was 3,047, while there was a vacancy rate of 16.7% (up 0.7% on the same time last year).
For County Galway as a whole, there were 9,287 occupied address points and a vacancy rate of 16.2%, up 0.6% from the same time last year.
Tuam has 469 occupied address points and a vacancy rate of 20% (down from 21.1%) and Loughrea 287, with a vacancy rate of 19.3% up from 18.2%.
Nationally, Sligo has the highest vacancy rate at 18.8%, followed by Galway at 16.2%, Mayo and Leitrim at 15.6% and Roscommon at 15.3%. The lowest rates recorded were in Kerry and Meath at 10.4%.
For comparison, Limerick was at 15.1%, Waterford at 14.3%, Dublin at 12.1% and Kilkenny at 12%. Nationally, the average vacancy rate was 13.1%.
The report counts each address point as a unit, as opposed to a building, which can comprise one or more units. A breakdown of the figures for Galway City shows that of the occupied units, around 50.2% are involved in the service industry; 22.6% in retail and wholesale; 14.3% in health; 3.5% in education; 3.2% in the financial sector; 3.2% in industry; 2% in construction and 1% in public administration.
The report reads: “The national commercial vacancy rate stands at 13.1%, with 14 counties recording a decline in commercial vacancy rates compared to only two counties at the same period in 2017. This suggests that the economic recovery is slowly beginning to take hold outside of Dublin. However, there is still a clear divide between counties in the East and West of the country, and in urban and rural areas, in terms of commercial vacancies.
“At a provincial level, Leinster’s commercial vacancy rate stood at 12.3 per cent, while at the other end of the scale, Connacht had the highest provincial commercial vacancy rate at 16.3 per cent. Of the ten counties with commercial vacancy rates lower than the national average, six were located in Leinster. All five counties in Connacht had commercial vacancy rates higher than the national average.
Dara Keogh, CEO of GeoDirectory said: “We are beginning to see evidence that the economic recovery is taking hold outside of Dublin, albeit at a slow pace. 14 counties recorded a drop in commercial vacancy rates in the year to date, compared to only two at this point last year. While this is a positive development, economic activity is still centred around Dublin, with Connacht, Ulster and the Midlands lagging behind.”
€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms
Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.
The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.
A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.
Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.
Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.
The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.
“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.
“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”
Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.
“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.
The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools
Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.
“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.
“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.
A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
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.