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Park & Ride from GMIT to ease Stadium traffic crux

Enda Cunningham



 The GAA has reached an agreement to run a Park & Ride service from GMIT to Pearse Stadium in Salthill on big match days, and has entered talks with other landowners to expand the service.

 And the County Board has ‘tweaked’ hugely controversial proposals for erecting floodlights at the stadium – ignoring the City Council’s advice to completely rethink their plans.

Last week, the GAA responded to a series of concerns raised by the Council last June – when a whole series of reports were demanded because of a deficit of information.

The application has already met with huge opposition from local residents – it’s the third time the GAA has sought permission for floodlights.

Two previous applications were withdrawn, one amid controversy following an investigation into an alleged forged Garda signature.

The latest application is for three 30.5 metre high columns and two 36.5m high columns, each of which will have between 33 and 40 lighting fixtures.

The GAA told planners this week that careful consideration has already been given to the proposed floodlighting, which included assessing and reducing previously applications.

They said a further full assessment has been undertaken of the current application, and there has been a recalibration of the lights, so that light spill will be reduced.

Park & Ride facilities are also being assessed by the County Board.

“Although the Park & Ride facility at Galway Airport may not be available to the GAA any longer, they [GAA] are confident that they can secure other Park & Ride facilities in the city and suburbs to help minimise and reduce traffic congestion during GAA match day events.

“In this regard, they have secured agreement with GMIT (800 spaces) and are confident that they will be successful in securing other alternative Park & Ride facilities in the coming months,” the application reads.

The GAA has also entered discussions with the Galway Races Committee, NUI Galway, Galway Airport and the owners of the Oranmore Commercial Park with a view to expanding the Park & Ride service.

They also warned that unless the lights are approved, Galway will lose a potential venue for the Rugby World Cup in 2023 if the IRFU’s bid to host it is successful.

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel


Connacht Tribune

Old mills set for new life as distillery

Declan Tierney



An artist's impression of the new distillery.

An old corn mill in East Galway is set to be transformed into a €6 million whiskey and gin manufacturing distillery – once planning permission has been granted for the development.

And if approved, the distillery has the potential to create more than 15 new jobs directly in the village of Ahascragh, providing a huge economic boost to the area – and rescuing the old corn mill which ceased operation in the 1950s.

A planning application for the new brewery has just been submitted by Gareth and Michelle McAllister of McAllister Distillers in North Dublin, with a decision due before the end of the year.

Gareth McAllister told The Connacht Tribune that he intended to renovate the old building while retaining some of the old features such as a mill wheel, and utilise the stream that runs through the property.

The complex, as well as producing various styles of Irish whiskey and gin, will also include a visitor centre, rooms for hospitality events, a retail shop and cafe.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Aer Arann marks half a century of linking islands to the mainland

Dara Bradley



Current Aer Arann owners Jarlath Conneely (left) and Peter McKenna, pictured in front of their aircraft. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

When Coley Hernon of Cill Rónáin on Inis Mór wrote letters to newspaper editors in 1970, questioning why the Aran Islands couldn’t have an air service like that operating from many Scottish islands, a number of Galway businessmen responded to the challenge.

Among them were visionaries Jimmy Coen and Ralph Langan, who established a local airline, Aer Arann Islands – and on August 15, 1970 the first flight took place between Inis Mór and the Galway mainland, at Oranmore.

According to the Connacht Tribune archives, the inaugural flight of the twin-engine plane, which cost £40,000, carried ten people in all, including a number of Bórd Fáilte officials and tourism representatives.

“The weather was unkind and heavy mist and squally winds made for unpleasant conditions but nevertheless the inaugural flight went off according to schedule,” the Tribune newspaper report said at the time.

When they landed, they were greeted by members of Aran Islands Tourist Development Association at a new £20,000 airstrip at Killeaney.

That first commercial flight from Galway’s mainland to the Aran Islands will be commemorated this weekend, 50 years later.

From those humble beginnings, it’s a company that has faced turbulence during its five decades, not least in recent years when there was uncertainty over State supports (PSO, Public Service Obligation) for the service . . . but at its core has always been a sense of duty to serving islanders.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway among counties least hit by Covid

Dara Bradley



Galway has so far suppressed the spread of Coronavirus this summer – with the latest figures showing the county is one of the least affected in the Republic of Ireland in the past fortnight.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population stands at just 3.1 in Galway in the last two weeks, compared with the national average of 18.42.

Three of the counties plunged into a partial lockdown again last Friday – Laois, Kildare and Offaly – had cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight of 86.19, 146.51 and 123.14 respectively.

The rate in Clare was 28.62, Mayo was 6.32, Roscommon was 1.55, and Tipperary was 1.25.

In the past week, Galway surpassed the 500-mark for confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic struck in March.

None of them are now in hospital, according to the data.

In the week to Sunday, there were a total of three new cases confirmed in Galway, bringing the running total to 501. The previous week, there a total of five new cases.

On Tuesday of this week, both of Galway’s two public hospitals, University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula, were Covid-free, and were not treating any patients in wards or in ICU who were confirmed as having Covid-19.

Get all the latest coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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