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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

Black Gate provides perfect stage for Ultan’s new songs

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Ultan Conlon....back home for Galway gig.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

It’s been a busy eighteen months for Loughrea singer-songwriter Ultan Conlon. Since releasing his third full-length LP in April of last year, he has written and performed extensively both at home and abroad, culminating in a recent, fruitful trip to LA.

But it’s all back home shortly, as Ultan plays the Black Gate on Sunday, November 10, in his final Galway show of 2019.

Among some carefully chosen older songs, he will be premiering a selection of new material set for release on his upcoming album, entitled There’s a Waltz.

Recorded in LA with esteemed bluegrass musician Sean Watkins, Ultan’s fourth release was born out of connections he has held on the other side of the Atlantic for several years.

“I’ve been to LA a few times,” he notes. “About four years ago, the second or third time I’d been there, I hired a PR lady and she sent a couple of my videos to a venue there called Largo.

“I’d never heard of it because I don’t know the LA scene but the day I arrived, he had asked her if I’d do a gig that night. It was really nice – a 300 plus seated theatre.

“On the walls there were photos of massive stand-up comics and musicians… Zach Galifianakis and Aimee Mann… I was thinking ‘Maybe this is just LA and this just happens here’ but it turns out Largo is a go-to spot for a lot of them and it’s hard enough to get into but I was lucky enough to get in.”

Largo has proved to be a valuable stage for Ultan. From that initial gig four years ago, he has forged relationships with a variety of talented musicians and producers in the US.

“I met people through doing the gigs,” he recalls. “The guy who produced this album, Sean Watkins, originally played in Nickle Creek, a very big bluegrass band with Grammies and multi-million selling albums.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Hurler’s unique double – 25 years after first win

Francis Farragher

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Loughrea's Seán Mahony with his sons, John and Oisín, after he helped his side win the County Junior B hurling title at Ballinasloe on Saturday.

A LOUGHREA hurler turned back the clock by exactly 25 years at the weekend when helping his team to a county final success, playing in the same position that he lined out in a quarter of a century ago.

Seán Mahony from the townland of Moyleen again wore the No. 2 jersey in their 1-20 to 2-15 Junior B victory over Killimordaly at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe on Saturday, to round off a remarkable series of coincidences.

It really was a case of ‘Take Two’ for Seán Mahony on Saturday: the opposition was the same . . . as was the venue . . . and the October setting . . . while the same manager – Mike Kelly – was again in charge of Loughrea.

“I’d day that there’s about five of our team on Saturday who weren’t born when we won it back in October, 1994, while our centre back last weekend, Ray Regan, was our mascot 25 years ago.

“I was nearly more nervous playing in the final today than I was 25 years ago. When you’re playing a final at 19 years of age you have no fear – the older you get, the more inclined you are to think about it,” Seán Mahony told the Connacht Tribune.

Another one of the ‘older brigade’ – Johnny Maher – also played a key role in last Saturday’s triumph while Nigel Shaughnessy came on as a sub and won a late penalty for Loughrea.

See full story in 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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Connacht Tribune

Dancing with wolves is Green way of the future

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

THE Green Party, in their relatively short existence, have had their ups and downs but in a world of ever-growing environmental awareness, there can be little doubt but that they have a role to play in the country’s political landscape.

Most of the time, what they say, makes a fair bit of sense in terms of reducing and eventually eradicating our dependence on fossil fuels; the need to protect our ecology and natural environment; and to produce our food in a more sustainable fashion.

But, every so now and then, with the try-line in view, they tend to drop the ball in the clumsiest of fashions. Could I really believe what I was hearing last week? Yes, the Greens want to reintroduce wolves to Ireland.

No, it wasn’t April 1 nor was it fake news. There was the leader of the Greens, one Eamon Ryan, making the case for the return of wolves to the Irish countryside, all by way of a great vision to turn our farmlands into one gigantic wildlife park.

For a minute or two, I thought of all the sheep farmers over the years that I’ve written stories about, whose flocks were savaged by marauding dogs, animals that should have been under domestic control – but weren’t – and who wreaked the most horrendous cruelty, often during night-time hours.

Publicity campaigns and damages claims against pet owners have helped at times to reduce the incidence of dog attacks, but at least this is a threat than in many cases can be contained.

There aren’t too many farms in Galway, or across the West of Ireland, who are more than a mile away from rough areas of cover – bushes, briars, trees and gorse – an environment that would make an ideal recluse for the new wolves of Ireland.

Maybe, we should all forget about farming, and revert back to leaving Ireland as a rural wilderness of no cars with wolves roving freely through the fields and forests while it might also be convenient to round-up the locals and move them all into the nearest town.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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