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Plans to have Thoor Ballylee back in business for Yeats’ anniversary

Dara Bradley

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One of William Butler Yeats’ most famous quotes captured the pessimistic outlook of a nation.

“Being Irish,” said Yeats, “he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy”.

But this doesn’t ring true of the campaign to revive his ancestral home in Thoor Ballylee, as optimism abounds that the building could be reopened by next Summer.

The building, also known as Yeats’ Tower, has been closed for the past five years due to severe flood damage.

Now, local group, The Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, has ambitious plans to have it re-opened in time for the Nobel Laureate’s 150th birthday in June 2015.

Minister of State for Tourism, Michael Ring this week granted a licence that allows the group to start fundraising to secure the money needed to re-open and keep open what was once described by Seamus Heaney as “the most important public building in Ireland”.

Located on the bank of Cloone River near Gort, it was in this impressive Hiberno-Norman tower where WB Yeats was inspired to write some of his most lauded poems, The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair (1931). After buying the property in 1917 for £35, the tower was restored by Yeats and he spent Summers with his family there from 1921 to 1929.

The building was badly flood damaged in 2009 and has remained closed ever since. Ireland West, the custodian of the tower, no longer exists and the building was subsumed into Fáilte Ireland whose mandate does not include protecting or promoting heritage sites and which cannot afford to re-open it.

The Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, chaired by Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, stepped in with plans to revive the building.

The society comprises people from the local community, business and academia who feel Thoor Ballylee is a “national treasure” that should be enjoyed by all.

Senator Healy Eames’ Seanad motion now paves the way for the society to fundraise, which is a major boost to plans to have it reopened next year.

“It would be an utter travesty if this iconic building, a national treasure, was not reopened in time for Yeats 150th birthday,” she said.

“We thank the Minister for granting the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society a licence to allow us to start fundraising and secure the monies needed to re-open and keep open this culturally important building, of huge touristic, heritage, academic and educational potential. We are determined to make it happen and as chair, I will lead this project. The granting of this license is significant and enabling. It gives a new lease of life and hope that Thoor will re-open.”

Senator Healy Eames says already philanthropists and academics in the US have pledged to help the campaign.

Minister Ring said: “The work by this community group is to be congratulated and shows that much can be achieved at grassroots when people are impassioned about a cause.

“I am delighted to support them in their efforts to raise the necessary funds to see Thoor Ballylee once again open to the public.

“It would be quite an achievement to have this historic building open in time for Yeats’ 150th birthday next year and would be sure to prove a huge attraction for the area and boost tourism revenues for Ireland as a whole.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call in the clampers to sort problem parking

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in a Salthill estate have become tired of illegal parking outside their homes – and hired private clampers as a deterrent.

People living in Seamount off Threadneedle Road near Blackrock said they have been plagued by extra traffic and vehicles parking outside their homes, blocking access, during the latest Covid lockdown.

They said that since Galway City Council closed off the Prom to car parking, and closed the two public carparks, the cars have just migrated to Threadneedle Road and their estate.

Seamount is a private estate and the road has not been taken in charge by the Council. The residents have clubbed together and hired a clamping company, which will erect signs in the coming days and begin clamping illegally parked cars from next week.

Residents said they are also concerned that cars parked on Threadneedle Road are making it more difficult for buses to pass, and cause congestion.

A residents’ spokesperson said: “Since the lockdown, they closed off the Prom and closed off Salthill car park but people are still using the Prom and swimming off Blackrock. I have huge admiration for the swimmers, I do it myself when it’s warmer. But what’s happening is they park on both sides of Threadneedle Road, because there’re no yellow lines on either side of it and it’s not wide enough for cars to be parked either side of it, so buses are getting stuck.”
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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG President’s upset at Covid breaches on campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – “I work in the hospital and we have had a really awful six weeks. We have nowhere to sit down and have our breaks. We are exhausted and would long to see family and friends. To see public health guidelines [being flouted] on NUIG property is a kick in the teeth.”

These are the words of an angry and frustrated healthcare worker at University Hospital Galway in a message sent to the head of NUIG.

President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh told students and staff at the university this week that he found it “deeply frustrating” that some students were flouting public health guidelines.

The HSE has confirmed that there were at least 441 cases of Covid in the city’s 18-24 age group – which has affected 224 households – in the past three weeks.

“Our neighbours contacted me expressing their upset at what they see as activities by our students that do not respect the health and safety of the community at large. People who work in the health service, people who have lost friends and relations to Covid-19. I share their upset.

“I was struck, for example, by one particularly heartfelt message from a local healthcare worker and campus user who shared their frustration with me last week on seeing groups congregating and socialising on campus grounds and which they agreed we could share,” Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said.

The head of the university shared the message in an email to students and staff this week, adding that students had expressed frustration that study spaces were not open on campus and at the challenges posed by the constricted spaces in which they study.

NUIG confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it had imposed sanctions on a number of students in relation to Covid breaches, while there have been none at GMIT.
This is a brief 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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Principals band together for safer cycling infrastructure

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A total of 28 Galway City school principals have signed an open letter to the Minister for Transport and local councillors highlighting the need for safer cycling infrastructure around schools, to encourage students and staff to switch to bikes.

The push by Government to cycle or walk where possible during the pandemic has its limitations in a city where cycle lanes are rare and parents are too afraid to let their children cycle on narrow roads often choked with traffic.

A group of cycling enthusiasts in city schools has been campaigning to encourage the school community to engage with Galway City Council’s public consultation process for the next development plan which will have a key role in deciding whether cycling lanes or off-road cycle routes become a reality.

The first stage of the initial consultation process for the ‘City Development Plan 2023-2029, Your City, Your Future’ closes today (Friday). But the process will continue for two more years with more consultation encouraged once the draft plan is published.

This week a letter from 28 principals sent to councillors called for support for the provision of better cycle infrastructure in and around all schools. It has also been sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Galway West TD and Minister of State at Cabinet, Hildegarde Naughton.

“It is our view that existing road infrastructure around schools can be unsafe for children, teachers, and families who wish to cycle to school and we would like to encourage the development safe cycling routes in the future,” the letter states.

Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe, Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, said it was important for the school community to get involved with the public consultation.

(Photo: Last year, the Council introduced a ‘School Streets’ pilot scheme at Scoil Iognáid, which bans cans during certain times, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle. Schools now want proper cycling infrastructure put in place).
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.

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