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Pub on wheels wows customers across the US

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Normally a pub crawl involves customers making their way to several licensed premises on a night out – but one enterprising Galwayman has turned that on his head . . . by bringing his hostelry on a tour of American’s biggest cities instead!

John Walsh’s version of bringing the mountain to Muhammed is already creating waves on the other side of the Atlantic, with high profile features on his bar in a host of top US publications.

The interior of the Shebeen.

The interior of the Shebeen.

This is no ordinary pub however – the Shebeen is a bespoke, customised caravan that brings the traditional feel of an Irish bar right to your doorstep.

It’s the brainchild of Clarenbridge native who first came up with the concept of converting a dilapidated 30-year-old caravan – he’d paid €800 for it to go to the Electric Picnic – into a mobile Irish pub in 2014.

The following year the Electric Picnic was running a competition – to design a caravan which would become an installation in the festival trailer park.

It had to be interactive and cut a dash among the organisers’ own unique creations which are used to host gigs and events.

“I thought this is the chance to do something with the caravan lying in the yard. I wanted to create an old style pub. There were 130 entries and five were chosen.

“Mine wasn’t one of those but we stayed going with it anyway as a project on Friday afternoons to unwind after the week,” he said.

And this week he is showing off the latest creation in his mobile pub ‘family’ – the Connemara Shebeen – across the US where he has already been spotted in Boston, New York and Connecticut.

John has taken part in the South Boston Parade, the Rhode Island parade; he’s been speaking to Forbes magazine, IrishCentral.com, Boston Magazine and has been interviewed by TV Network NECN.  And this week, he’s in New York to meet media.

John Walsh behind the counter of his Shebeen.

John Walsh behind the counter of his Shebeen.

“The interest in Ireland has been huge since we built the first Shebeen in 2014, and with more and more enquiries coming from the States over the last twelve months, we felt we had to visit America to personally introduce our little pub on wheels!” said John.

“The decision to come here to Boston was made even easier thanks to my own connections – we have family living here just south of the city.  And with an estimated 33 million Americans having Irish ancestry, it’s a real pleasure to be able deliver an authentic little piece of Ireland to the US market,” he added.

Built in Galway, the Connemara Shebeen boasts authentic Irish interiors that resemble a traditional Irish pub – featuring fold-down windows for outdoor entertaining, a fully functional mobile bar, and the obligatory high Nelly bicycle!

John is a cabinet maker by trade and had built custom-made kitchens with JW Design and for the last three years cleanroom furniture for pharmaceutical companies through his company Clinical Cabinets.

He got his five employees involved in the original project, which took six months to complete.

The interior woodwork is handcrafted in Irish oak, which has been stained and distressed to recreate a vintage feel. There is used solid pine on the floor and the seats are designed to look old and well worn.

The Shebeen also includes seating for up to ten people; a cooler and taps for two draft beers; an electric stove heater, and a music sound system.

Antique pictures, mirrors and carefully selected pub memorabilia which came from an old pub in Monaghan adorn the walls, which have been papered in traditional patterned wallpaper.

As well as an antique cash register and electric stove, gracing one wall is an old hurl with a set of false teeth imbedded in it.

Outside the white polystyrene cladding resembles a white washed cottage, with the door the only thing remaining of the original caravan, which can open out to replicate the traditional cottage half-doors.

The Boston Police Pipes and Drums Gaelic Column outside the Shebeen.

The Boston Police Pipes and Drums Gaelic Column outside the Shebeen.

He plans to build up to eight next year, most of them bound for the US and Canadian markets where he will rent them out under a licence. He has taken out a trademark for the concept and is confident nobody will be allowed copy it.

“The Shebeen has proven that it fits perfectly into any contemporary setting, bringing a unique focal point to weddings, birthdays, family gatherings, company events and other celebrations,” he said.

“It has become known as ‘the star of the party’ and it is the embodiment of the Irish love of stories, laughter, music and, of course, the craic!  Whatever the occasion, The Shebeen offers an atmosphere unlike any other, to make your event a memorable one.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Former hotel won’t be ring-fenced for college

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No designation....Corrib Great Southern during demolition.

The site of the former Corrib Great Southern will no longer be ring-fenced for educational purposes if a clause removed in a draft of the next development plan is eventually adopted.

A motion by Mayor Colette Connolly proposed earmarking one-third of the six-acre Dublin Road site for educational use as well as research or collaborative ventures between third level colleges and industry.

Mayor Connolly said her proposal reinstates the text of the current plan reserving a portion of any planned development for education.

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) was supportive of the motion, the Independent councillor she told a planning meeting convened to collate a draft of the plan.

Councillor Declan McDonell (Ind) said GMIT had recently purchased the home of the Galwegians Rugby Club at Glenina for €9 million and were progressing developments at the Cluain Mhuire site and a proposed Centre of Excellence for Health, Sport, and Marine Science at Murrough.

The former hotel had been offered to GMIT for €3.75m by NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) but they had to pass because they could not come up with the money.

“So I fail to see how they could come up with the money to buy two acres for educational purposes – therefore we could be left with a derelict site for years,” he warned.

Cllr Noel Larkin (Ind) told the meeting he was in favour of an expanding GMIT but agreed the site which only recently saw the demolition of a major eyesore could be left derelict for another decade if developers were hamstrung by what could be built.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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CITY TRIBUNE

Multi-storey car park proposal still on the table

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No multi-storey...the existing Dyke Road car park.

A proposal to remove from the Draft City Development Plan an objective to replace the existing car park at Dyke Road with a multi-storey alternative has been voted down by councillors.

Those opposing the motion argued that regardless of improved public transport and cycle networks, there would always be a requirement for parking in the city centre.

The motion, proposed by Cllr Niall Murphy (Green) and seconded by Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind), sought to take out a line in the plan which stated the replacement of the 550-space car park with a multi-storey “would enable more efficient use of the land”.

This forms part of the planned redevelopment of the area which is to be led by the Land Development Agency (LDA) and is mooted to include residential units, retail space and potentially a hotel.

Cllr Murphy said as improved public transport came on stream, the requirement for parking in the centre of the city should reduce, with the long-awaited Park and Ride rollout the ‘preferred option’.

“It is prejudicial to state [in the development plan] that some of that area will be used by multi-storey parking – that should be decided as part of our negotiations with the LDA,” said Cllr Murphy.

Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) opposed the motion and said long-term parking, such as that currently provided for on the Dyke Road, should be maintained as there would be a continued demand for it.

“We need a certain amount of parking for people working in town. Park and Ride will not be available for all, like those who come in on the Headford Road and the Tuam Road,” he said.

Cllr Terry O’Flaherty agreed and said workers from areas such as Annaghdown and Corrandulla had no access to public transport and required their car to get to work.

Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said the population of the city was set to double in the coming years and even by maintaining the existing number of spaces in Dyke Road, the Council would be in effect halving the overall availability.

“People need to get to town and not everybody can hop on a bike – not everybody has that luxury,” he said.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway’s vacant homes and shops

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Councillor Níall McNelis (Lab)

There were in excess of 1,100 vacant commercial and residential properties in Galway City in 2020, a new report has found – a ‘staggering figure’ which one local representative described as ‘frightening’.

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly’s (NWRA) report on Regional Vacancy and Dereliction has revealed a worsening problem in the city – highlighting a 15% increase in the level of commercial vacancy since 2015 and a 5% increase in the number of empty homes.

Some 690 commercial properties were lying idle in the city in September 2020 – many of which could be used to increase the housing stock according to the report.

The West has more than double the national average of vacant commercial space, something that is “undermining the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of the region while exasperating attempts to deliver sustainable settlement patterns”.

“Many of our towns and villages continue to experience high vacancy and dereliction rates along their main streets, with these empty residential and commercial properties providing extensive opportunities to improve housing supply, ensure our residents live closer to key public services and workplaces,” states the report.

A further 444 residential units were also vacant, despite the city experiencing a homelessness crisis and a severe shortage of housing.

Local Councillor Níall McNelis (Lab) said these figures were ‘staggering’ – particularly as the situation is likely to have worsened due to the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.

“A lot of these commercial units would probably be better used as residential units and I believe that is something local government could sort out – if it was given the power to do so.

“Instead, national government has far too much of a hold on it. It would require national legislation but I think we need to look at taxing vacant units if no effort is being made to fill them,” said Cllr McNelis.

There were several cases where ‘very large investors’ had bought up these properties for ‘half nothing’ and left them to rot while there were people in the city crying out for living space, he continued.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from

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