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.
Zoning for houses ‘could impact Galway City Ring Road plan’
Councillors have voted to rezone farming land in Rahoon to allow for houses to be developed, against the advice of planners who warned it could impact on the planned Galway City Ring Road.
The Office of Planning Regulator and Chief Executive of Galway City Council both advised elected members not to change the zoning use from agricultural to residential on the 2.842-hectare (7-acre) site. But it was passed with 14 in favour, three against and one absent.
Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind), who proposed the motion, said there was a need for more land to be zoned residential to facilitate the growth in population of 40,000 over the next 18 years. Cllr Noel Larkin seconded his proposal.
Brendan McGrath, the Chief Executive, said there was “no requirement to rezone additional land for residential purposes to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029”.
He said there was sufficient zoned land available to enable development.
The OPR said voting to change the zoning represented a piecemeal approach to planning and was inconsistent with national and regional policy.
“It is also considered that the proposed rezoning could prejudice the strategic future optimal use of these lands in the longer term. With regard to impact on the objective for the N6 Galway City Ring Road Scheme (GCRR), all development has to take cognisance of the objective for the N6 GCRR.
“It is also noted that the draft plan includes that the objective for the N6 GCRR has priority over all land use zoning objectives which is considered to provide sufficient protection to safeguard the scheme objective,” Mr McGrath said.
The National Transport Authority said this rezoning should not be allowed as it is likely to lead to development that was “wholly car-dependent and contrary to national and regional objectives”.
Cash-strapped students targeted by drug dealers, policing meeting hears
Cash-strapped students in Galway are being targeted by drug lords to act as money mules, a city councillor has warned.
Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) made the remarks at a public meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) and said that the €667,000 worth of drugs seized by city gardaí in the first 10 months of the year “is only the tip of the iceberg”.
The meeting at the Connacht Hotel heard that some €45 million passed through the accounts of so-called money mules nationwide this year alone.
Cllr Cheevers said drug dealers were targeting young people in particular.
“They’re in the 18 to 24-year-old age bracket and college students are being targeted,” said Cllr Cheevers.
It was revealed that cocaine was by far the most common drug seized in Galway, making up over half of all the drugs detected – cocaine valued at €348,000 was seized in the 10 months to the end of October.
This was closely followed by cannabis, of which €260,000 worth was taken off the streets by gardaí, while the remainder of the total was made up by heroin, ecstasy and other illegal drugs.
Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said the drugs problem was “unquantifiable” and promised that city gardaí were “attacking money laundering in a targeted and systematic way”.
Drugs were not only an urban problem but were a huge issue in county towns as well, he said, and all gardaí, from uniformed to armed response, were focused on the issue.
“Roads policing are taking a targeted role in tackling it as well,” said Chief Supt Roche.
“A new strategy is starting tomorrow,” he said at the meeting..
“Getting involved in being a money mule is a personal choice. We can warn and caution people against it.
“We can say so much but people continue to do things that are illegal,” he added.
‘Furore’ over rezoning plan for access to B&B on Headford Road in Galway
From the Galway City Tribune – Councillors have voted to rezone a small section of Terryland Forest Park from recreational and amenity use to residential.
A majority of elected members also approved the insertion of a specific objective into the new Galway City Development Plan 2023-29 that would allow an entrance to the site through Sandyvale Lawn.
This was to facilitate safe access to a home and B&B business off Headford Road, which had become dangerous due to the recent changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic lights junction.
Residents of Sandyvale Lawn, a 100+ housing estate off Headford Road, had objected to the proposals, and so too had Tuatha Terryland Forest Park, an alliance of volunteers and organisations.
The Office of Planning Regulator (OPR) and Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, as well as his planning department and recreational and amenity department, had all objected to the changes.
The rezoning, and insertion of a specific objective to facilitate an entrance to the estate, was contained in the same material alteration that came before councillors, but they were obliged to vote on them separately.
Several councillors argued that a new entrance to Sandyvale Lawn was necessary to facilitate safe access to a B&B on Headford Road.
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.
Cllr Mike Crowe (FF) said the family who owned this business and home had been treated poorly by the City Council during the reconfiguration of the Kirwan roundabout to a signalised junction.
Referencing the large opposition to the proposal, he said the “furore over this is astounding” and argued the impact on green space and the Sandyvale Lawn estate would be minimal.
Cllr Crowe said the proposal was about creating a safe exit and entrance.
Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said there had been a number of near misses of cars coming in and out of the B&B, which were captured on video.
He said the current system, whereby an amber traffic light allows access to the B&B was “haphazard and dangerous”. He feared there would be a fatality if a new entrance was not approved.
“I don’t like to rezone RA [Recreational & Amenity] land but in this situation we don’t have a choice. We have to remedy a dangerous situation,” Cllr Fahy said.
Cllr Colette Connolly (Ind) said RA land was “absolutely sacrosanct” and she would not vote to rezone.
She asked what the legal position was regarding a rezoning of green space, which residents claimed had been paid for through a green levy applied 40 years ago when the estate was built.
Cllr Owen Hanley (Soc Dem) said he had voted initially to include the material alteration to support the B&B owners, as the removal of the roundabout had made access more dangerous for them.
But he said he would now support the residents of Sandyvale Lawn who had opposed the change.
Cllr Declan McDonnell said the family had lived there for 50 years and now it was more dangerous accessing their home through no fault of their own.
He said it was not safe that they have to enter and exit their home on an amber flashing light.
In a submission, residents of Sandyvale Lawn said the new entrance would negatively impact their estate, by increasing traffic, noise and an addition risk to children playing. They said it could be turned into another rat run like Ballinfoile and Tirellan. They also argued against the loss of green space.
Submissions also objected to the loss of the green space which was part of Terryland Forest Park, dubbed the ‘lungs of the city’.
Mr McGrath asked councillors not to rezone the land and not to insert the specific objective for a new entrance.
Both changes, however, were approved. The RA to R rezoning passed by a 12-5 vote and the specific objective for a new entrance passed by 11-5.