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Connacht Tribune

Rail Corridor analysis won’t be completed for at least another year

Declan Tierney

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Greenway on closed railway...campaigners call on Minister to take charge.

The controversial review into the viability of the Western Rail Corridor will not be completed for at least a year – because it has yet to even start.

Irish Rail bosses are not to blame for this lengthy process as they have to abide by strict EU guidlines in the appointment of consultants to carry out this review.

But a local TD and several councillors have been accused of demanding the rail review in the full knowledge that it would take an inordinate time to complete and scupper any chances of a greenway being provided along the old disused railway line.

Even when the independent railway review is completed, the findings of this will be forwarded to the Department of Transport who will then consider the contents – meaning that the process could take even longer.

Minister Ciaran Cannon, a staunch advocate of a greenway along the railway line, said that it was very disappointing and described it as a deliberate delaying tactic.

He said that the cost of the rail review – an estimated €500,000 – would go a long way towards the construction of a greenway from Athenry to Tuam.

When the issue of sourcing funding for a greenway feasibility study was the subject of heated discussions at various meetings of Galway County Council and Tuam Municipal Council, a rail feasibility review was called for.

This meant that there could be no plan for the railway track from Athenry to Tuam and on to Claremorris while this review was pending.

Barry Kenny of Irish Rail explained to The Connacht Tribune that the deadline for the applications from consultants was November 13 last.

He explained that all procurement processes are carried out in accordance with European Union laws which have to be strictly adhered to.

Irish Rail will be in receipt of the final tenders on January 23 next and a decision will be made on the successful consultant in early February.

But Mr Kenny pointed out that under EU laws, there then has to be a two week period for the unsuccessful bidders to either query or challenge the decision.

It is anticipated that that Irish Rail will be in a position to confirm the successful tender publicly in late February.

However, it is not known when the actual rail review to consider the viability of a passenger rail service from Athenry to Tuam and on to Claremorris will commence.

Even when it does, it will take five months to complete, according to Irish Rail, which could take the whole process up until the end of the year.

But despite Minister Sean Canney’s assertion late last year that the rail review ‘is ongoing’, it hasn’t even kicked off yet and there is no definite indication when it will be completed.

The Galway East TD, as part of his support for the current administration, had it written into the Programme for Government that a review be carried out of the Western Rail Corridor phase two between Athenry and Claremorris for passenger and freight use.

But Minister Ciaran Cannon pointed to the fact – and this was alluded to by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently – that a previous appraisal had been carried out which dismissed any prospect of the rail corridor being developed.

He said that the last time the appraisal was carried out on the Western Rail Corridor, it came out negatively at a cost of 100 against six – 100 being the cost and six being the benefit.

“It would want to be up on 100 against 80 to be any way worthwhile,” he added.

Connacht Tribune

Branar reaching for skies at former airport

Judy Murphy

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Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí.

Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.

Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.

The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.

At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.

“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.

At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions.  Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.

Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.

And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.

Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.

Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory

John McIntyre

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Corofin's Colin Brady is tackled by Paul Kerrigan of Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club semi-final. The reigning champions face Kilcoo of Down in Sunday's showdown at Croke Park.

IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.

Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.

It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.

Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.

It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí called to Beef Plan gatherings as internal row threatens future of movement

Francis Farragher

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Deputy Anne Rabbitte, standing on a chair, addressing last week's controversial Beef Plan meeting in Turloughmore. Photo: Courtesy Agriland.

THE ‘civil war’ that has engulfed the Beef Plan Movement over recent weeks looks set to continue into 2020 following controversial meetings in Turloughmore and in Tipperary during the past week.

An estimated 300 people turned out on Wednesday night of last week in the Turloughmore Social Centre for the Co. Galway AGM of Beef Plan but the meeting was disrupted amidst raucous scenes.

That meeting was eventually abandoned without any officers being elected with a Garda presence at the Turlough’ centre following the break-up of the meeting.

Meanwhile, on Friday night at Holycross in Co. Tipperary, Gardaí were also on duty at that county’s Beef Plan AGM where there was a strict monitoring of those entering the meeting by security personnel.

A group of people outside that meeting at the Old Abbey Inn – who also claimed to be Beef Plan members – did not gain entry to the meeting.

Last night (Wednesday) a reconvened Galway AGM of Beef Plan was scheduled to take place in the Ard Rí House Hotel, Tuam, where only Galway Beef Plan members would be admitted.

Outgoing Chairman of Galway Beef Plan and one of the four original directors of Beef Plan Movement Company, Kevin O’Brien, said that people had been brought in from many outside counties to disrupt the Galway AGM last week and confirmed that later in the night, there was a Garda presence at the centre.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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