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Connacht Tribune

Parish grapples with problem of old church buildings

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Geographically it is reputed to be the largest parish in the country – but Roundstone is facing a crisis over what to do with church buildings that it can no longer sustain.

The parish now has a single priest – Polish-born PP Fr Kyzysztof Sikoura – and the reduced circumstances have resulted in question marks on the future of the old school in Doire Bhó Riada in Bun na gCnoc in Recess and the priest’s house in Cashel – both half parishes of Roundstone.

The parish itself, which stretches from the far side of Gurteen beaches in Roundstone as far as the Twelve Bens and Mám Tuirc mountains had three priests up until the nineties but is now down to just a PP.

The area’s population has also gone into serious decline with a preponderance of people in the older age groups.

The old Doire Bhó Riada school was both a functioning school and a Mass centre in past years; it was also a focal point of some of the controversy concerning the use of the Irish language in the primary school and in the Mass in the Recess area in the 1980s and 1990s.

National school education was ended in the Doire Bhó Riada school in Bun na gCnoc – in the foothills north of Recess – in the late seventies.

The school was replaced by a new building beside the main road in Recess.  However, Mass continued to be celebrated in Doire Bhó Riada school afterwards.

A prolonged dispute followed in the new school when the Irish language was instituted as the primary teaching language.

Most parents kept their children out of the school; they did, however, says that they had a number of issues.

A dispute also erupted about the place of the Irish language in the Mass in Doire Bho Riada.

Local teacher at the time, Bríd Ní Dhomhnaill, campaigned for an Irish language Mass leading to confrontation with the then Archbishop Cunnane of Tuam.

The new Recess school was eventually closed in the early 1990s as a resolution to the dispute could not be found.

However, the Archdiocese of Tuam made arrangements to have a Mass in Irish said in the old Doire Bhó Riada school in Bun na gCnoc every weekend.

The arrangement continued over the years but very few people were attending the Mass in Bun na gCnoc in later times and it was discontinued as the pressure of work mounted on the one priest in the parish.

Cashel lost its curate in 1993 and the priest’s house beside the Church has not been used since. It is now in a poor state of repair.

Roundstone PP Fr Sikoura, who has been appointed to the parish in the past year, says that the cost of maintaining buildings – there are five churches in the parish – is becoming too much of a burden. Insurance alone costs up to €10,000 per year.

Fr Sikoura said the social and population realities have to be faced up to and that he will be discussing the future of buildings such as the Doire Bhó Riada School and the priest’s house in Cashel with the community at upcoming meetings.

His preference is that the buildings could be improved and restored and put to some beneficial purpose.

Dwellings or holiday homes are among the suggestions but that could involve significant initial costs.

Connacht Tribune

Eyrecourt tune makes it to Hollywood in Jig time

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A tune composed to celebrate the twinning of Eyrecourt in south-east Galway with Gouesnach in France is to feature in a new film.

Written by Niall Crehan, ‘The Eyrecourt Jig’ made quite a splash when it was released in 2013 and is still popular in music sessions up and down the country.

Niall had been commissioned to write the tune for the 20th anniversary of the twinning of the two villages, Eyrecourt and Gouesnach.

So, when he had a small part as a fiddler in a TV film called Royal Rendevouz, he started playing the jig.

The producers were so impressed, they added it to the movie soundtrack and it will appear in the credits.

Niall is a member of a celebrated traditional Irish musical dynasty hailing originally from County Clare.

He is the youngest son of whistle and concertina player Vincent Crehan and nephew of renowned fiddler Junior Crehan.

Niall and his brother Kieran ran the Dublin shop Crehan Musical instruments until his early retirement.

Now living in Kildare, Niall is a cousin of publican Mick Crehan, who runs the renowned folk pub in the west end of Galway, The Crane.

Niall and the large army of musicians in the extended family are regular guests.

His brother Dermot got music playing parts on films such as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and he managed to get Niall onto the likes of Downton Abbey.

This latest TV project is the latest foray into the world of film, explains his son Brian.

The story centres on an American chef who is invited to an Irish manor to cook a feast in order to convince the matriarch not to sell the home.

It premieres on Sunday, February 26 at 9pm on the E! Network starring Isabella Gomez, Ruairi O’Connor and Ronan Raftery.

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Connacht Tribune

‘No show’ TDs criticised at County Galway policing committee meeting

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A county councillor has launched a stinging criticism of Oireachtas members for their repeated failure to attend County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meetings.

At a meeting of the JPC on Monday, Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher (photographed) said he believed it was time the three TDs on the committee decided if they wanted to remain, or give their place up to someone who would make use of it.

“I am asking the Council to write out to our Oireachtas members and ask them do they want to be on this JPC or not, and if not, let someone else be on it,” blasted the Fine Gael councillor.

This followed repeated non-appearances from TDs representing the Oireachtas on the committee – the three representatives are Deputy Noel Grealish (Ind), Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) and Deputy Catherine Connolly (Ind).

Cllr Maher said the JPC, which sits around five times per year, was deliberately held on a Mondays to facilitate Oireachtas members who were in the Dáil later in the week. He said there were issues being raised regularly that required raising at a national level and it was incumbent on national representatives to bring those matters back to Dublin.

One such issue was the use of CCTV in the pursuit of illegal dumpers and travelling crime gangs, said Cllr Maher who is Cathaoirleach of the County Council.

“I would like our members of the Oireachtas to be taking the message back on CCTV,” he added, as representatives locally were getting no further as a result of data protection laws.

None of the three Oireachtas members were present for this week’s meeting. Chair of the JPC, Cllr Jim Cuddy, confirmed he had received an apology from Deputy Catherine Connolly.

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Connacht Tribune

New Chief Executive for Galway County Council

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The new Chief Executive of Galway County Council is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Liam Conneally, who is Director of Services for Economic Development at Clare County Council, is understood to be the preferred candidate following an interview process and has been offered the post.

His appointment will have to be ratified by councillors at an upcoming meeting of Galway County Council.

He will replace Jim Cullen, who was Acting CE for a number of years.

The last permanent CE of the local authority was also a Clare native, Martina Moloney who retired in 2014.

Since then, Kevin Kelly initially and then Jim Cullen have been acting in the roles.

According to his LinkedIn page, Liam Conneally was a senior planner at Limerick City and County Councils for almost three years before taking up the Director of Services role in Clare in 2016.

He was educated at University of Limerick and Queen’s University Belfast.

A native of Ennistymon, he is steeped in the GAA.

“He’s done a very good job in Clare; he’s very dynamic and forward-looking, he will be a good choice for Galway County Council,” said a source familiar with Mr Conneally, and the interview process.

Government completed a review in 2021 about whether it was going to appoint someone permanently into the CE role, which was filled on a temporary/acting basis for almost nine years.

It’s understood that officials in Dublin had delayed filling the role as they wanted to push for an amalgamation of both Councils.

The amalgamation, however, was rejected by local politicians, and has since been put on the back burner.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, is due to retire this year. It’s understood his deputy CE, Patricia Philbin will take the role in an acting capacity until an interview process is completed.

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