The former Townhouse Bar premises at Quay Lane – which was flooded on several occasions over the past five years – is set to re-open as a café and retail unit as part of the new adjoining Aran Sweater Market.
GlenAran Ltd recently completed extensive renovations on No 25 Quay Street and numbers 2 to 5 Quay Lane – where sections of a 13th century wall were discovered – to create a retail centre for the sale of high-end knitwear and woollen products.
Last January, the company sought permission for a change of use of 6-7 Quay Lane (formerly the Townhouse and Bazaar) to a ground floor café with retail overhead.
“The proposed developed involves the sensitive refurbishment of an existing city centre protected structure which has been vacant and unused [since mid-2014].
“It is considered that the development will be respectful to its setting and will not be detrimental to the character of the area or the neighbouring protected structures.
“The application would not only contribute to the character of the protected structure, but also to the character of the city itself, given this is a vibrant use.
“This contrasts to the existing disused situation onsite which impacts the vitality of the surrounding properties,” the application reads.
The City Council has approved the application stating: “One must consider that No 6/7 Quay Lane, which has been used most recently as a public house, has been vacant for a number of years and it was noted during a site inspection that the building is suffering from dampness due to lack of use, heating and ventilation.
“In this context, the proposal to bring the building back into use is welcome as is the proposal to remove modern interventions, with a view to showcasing the existing medieval fabric on site.
“The scheme offers several positive features, most notably the proposal to bring back into use a vacant property in a prominent area, in close proximity to the entrance of the pedestrianised heart of Galway City,” planners said.
A total of 19 conditions were attached to the planning permission, including a stipulation that an archaeologist and a conservation architect must be employed on site to monitor and record works.
They ordered that the café unit on the ground floor must operate separately from the adjoining units and upper floor levels, and there must be no internal link – this is due to City Development Policy designed to protect the medieval legacy of the city centre.
No change of use of the café/restaurant can take place without a prior planning application, and it cannot be used for the sale or consumption of hot food outside the premises.
GlenAran Ltd is owned by the MacCarthy family from Glengarriff in West Cork. They bought No 25 Quay Street and numbers 2 to 5 Quay Lane at the end of 2015 for a price which auctioneers said was “significantly in excess” of its €600,000 guide price, while No 6-7 Quay Lane are owned by pub and hotel magnate Louis Fitzgerald (who owns the Quays bar) and his son Edward.
For the year-ended September 2017, the company reported a turnover of €8.1 million and an after-tax profit of just over €1m.
Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.
Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.
The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.
“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.
“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”
Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.
“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.
The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools
Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.
“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.
“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.
A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
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.
GMIT warns partying students they are delaying return to campus
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Partying students have been told their actions have impacted GMIT’s plans to re-start practical classes on campus – and Gardaí are monitoring the city’s bus and train stations to catch those breaking the 5km travel restriction by returning home for the weekend.
College authorities said the current “extremely serious outbreak” of Covid-19 among students in Galway City was caused by a small minority who are “moving and mixing between different households”.
Following a meeting with Gardaí last week, GMIT contacted all students to clarify that because there are no ‘onsite’ classes, there should be no need to travel for educational purposes.
“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” students were told.
In a separate communication issued this week, the college’s Covid Officer appealed to students to abide by the rules.
“This outbreak has had an impact on our plans with regard to return to onsite practical work, with consequences for all students.
“We are appealing to all students to comply with all Covid restrictions and in doing so, to help ensure that those students who have to return to onsite practical work can do so,” the email read.
Many students from outside the city have opted to stay in their accommodation for access to better broadband.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more coverage of Covid figures and vaccinations, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.