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Preparing for Boston Mayor’s return ‘home’ to Connemara

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Peter O’Malley is painting – upstairs and downstairs. He is expecting visitors, but not strangers. Many of the visitors, including the man who will be the centre of attention, have been here many times before.

But this time it will be different. It is guaranteed to be an occasion of colour; the flags will fly – Irish and American. The Mayor of Boston is coming. It will be summer – the month of May.

Peter O’Malley is an uncle of Marty Walsh, on the Mayor’s mother’s side. He keeps the old family home in Ros Muc alive and sparkling. He divides his time between Ros Muc and Boston. Now, as springtime finally beckons down by a quite by road in the townland of Ros Cide, Peter is preparing the way. This will be the main abode for Mayor Marty Walsh when he spends a week in Connemara – his “homecoming” after his historic victory in the Boston Mayoral contest last November.

“Our pride in Martin’s victory here in the parishes of Ros Muc and Carna knows no bounds,” says Peter.

“His late father, John Walsh was from Callowfeenish in Carna and his mother – my sister, Mary – is from here in Ros Cide in Ros Muc.  She will be coming back here with him. In the midst of all this there is a sadness too; the Mayor’s father, John, is no longer with us. He would have been such a proud man coming home to his native Carna and Connemara this May”.

Peter O’Malley is often referred to as the Mayor’s right-hand-man. He plays that down.

“Look, there were hundreds and thousands who fought a massive campaign to elect Marty Walsh as Mayor of Boston – I did a bit myself”.

That is putting it mildly. Peter must have been privy to most of the decisive moments in the campaign: he drove Marty over a number of months all across the city of Boston at all hours. They talked a lot. Peter must have heard a lot of interesting conversations?  He laughs “I did” in response to that question.

He expands a little on that: “Well, many conversations are about the campaign but some stuff is private and it stays like that. The candidate must trust you”.

Peter says this was one of the issues taken into consideration when Mayor Walsh appointed Police Sergeant Winnie Cotter as his driver. She is the Mayor’s first cousin on his father’s side – a daughter of the late Kate Walsh-Cotter from Carna.

“A few questions were asked about that by the media but not much. Kate is fully qualified for the job; the Mayor trusts her. The Mayor has a detail of four policemen, whom he selected personally, for security cover; there is always at least one of them on duty wherever the Mayor is.”

Will members of his Boston security team be coming to Ros Cide and to Connemara?

“Well, I’d say that Winnie – Sergeant Cotter – will certainly be coming. Anyhow, her mother is from Carna. There may also be at least another member of the team in Ireland.”  

Peter says that the Brendan O’Connor RTE television programme is looking for the Mayor.

“I think he will do that,” Peter says, “but I know that he wants to spend time around quietly as he always used to do. He has been coming here since he was a young lad; we must give him a chance to relax and take it easy, too.”

When Peter emigrated from Ros Muc in 1973, his little nephew Martin Walsh was five. He got to know the little boy in Savin Hill in Boston. But soon life took a rough turn.

“I knew this particular day that Martin was at the hospital but I did not think it was serious. Then somebody said we should go up there. I met my sister Mary – Marty’s mother – crying in the hospital.

“She said ‘Martin has cancer; it has spread’. I was shocked and I asked where was John – Martin’s father – and she said he was out in the car. I went out and John was bent down and I saw that he was saying the rosary. It was a shocking time”.

Marty fought it off and went on. Peter watched him make his way, despite other difficulties from time and time, until he became the First Citizen of Boston. Peter O’ Malley goes back across the Atlantic in a few weeks.

The next time he comes to the homely, freshly painted house in Ros Cide, the Mayor will be alongside him. Connemara people will reach out to welcome one of their own – Marty Walsh. And close by somewhere there will be a hardy and dapper man who runs marathons and cycles miles, the right-hand-man.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
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

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
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

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
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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