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CITY TRIBUNE

Regeneration project to be extended to former bar premises

Enda Cunningham

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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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Saving on school books

Dara Bradley

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Secondary school students struggling with back-to-school costs, or looking for a bargain, can shave as much as 40% off the cost of school books – if they buy second hand.

And The Book Exchange on Lower Abbeygate Street in Galway City will even buy back good-quality school books, which it then re-sells.

“You typically can get 40% off the retail value of books if you shop with us. We generally say that if you spend €100 on new books, they’d be €60 here,” said Gary Healy of The Book Exchange.

It doesn’t stock a full-range of books, like Eason’s or other new school book retailers, but it caters well for Senior cycle students in secondary school in particular.

“Most of the fifth year and sixth year books are here, whether it’s maths such as Active Maths 4, Active Maths 3 or Irish books like Fuinneamh Nua. We have a lot of language books and a lot of the optional subjects. In general, almost all the firth and sixth year secondary school curriculum can be got second hand. With the Junior Cert, it’s only a couple of subjects that are available and it depends on the school. English books at Junior Cert can be gotten second-hand, and then sometimes the optional subjects like woodwork, tech graphics, music,” he said.

The Book Exchange will go through the booklist with the students or parents, although customers are advised to get in touch in advance.

“I’d advise anybody to stick a nose in to us with a list, or even give us a ring, or an email. We’re always happy to go down through the list with people, and walk them through it because one of the biggest things that can be a problem with the school book list, is when it specifies a book for a parent to get, it could say ‘new edition’ but in many cases ‘new edition’ just means it’s called the new edition, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s new. It could be 10 years after and it would still be called the ‘new edition’.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Changes to garda structure require ‘feet on the ground’

Francis Farragher

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STRUCTURAL changes in Garda management – which will see the current Western Region merged with the Northern area – need to be backed up with ‘feet on the ground’, according to the Chairperson of the city’s Joint Policing Committee.

Cllr Niall McNelis said he also had concerns over the impact that a reduction in Garda Superintendents and Chief Superintendents could have on the management of the force across the Galway region.

“I know that the stated intention of the Commissioner [Drew Harris] is to increase the frontline presence of Gardaí but this cannot be achieved without more feet on the ground.

“There also has to be concerns over an apparent lack of consultation on the changes with Garda Superintendents who really play a key role in managing the Garda resources at local level,” said Cllr McNelis.

He added that in the aftermath of the financial crash in Ireland, Garda resources – both in terms of personnel and equipment – had taken a huge hit, with this ‘lost ground’ still not being made up.

“The bottom line in all of this is: will we see more Gardaí on the beat; more Gardaí operating at local level and in touch with local people; and also a management structure that’s in touch with local communities?” Cllr McNelis asked.

One of the major changes announced by Commissioner Drew Harris is a reduction in the number of national Garda regions across the country from six to four, each one under the control of an Assistant Commissioner.  The Western Garda Region – that had consisted of Galway, Clare, Roscommon/Longford and Mayo – will now be merged into one region amalgamating with the North.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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CITY TRIBUNE

Traffic gridlock – specialist traffic control operator at City Hall among proposed solutions

Francis Farragher

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THE city came close to complete gridlock on last Tuesday with a combination of minor accidents, roadworks, visitor numbers, an influx of shoppers and bad weather, making it a nightmare afternoon and evening for motorists.

Eyre Square, College Road, Lough Atalia, the Moneenagheisha junction and the dual-carriageway leading up to the Briarhill traffic-lights, endured the most severe clog-ups, but commuters across the city reported long delays from lunchtime through to the later evening period.

Former Mayor of Galway and taxi-operator, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that by early afternoon he had to abandon his efforts to continue working.

“I know that there was a huge volume of traffic in the city due to back-to-school shoppers and there were also reports of a number of minor accidents, but I still think that we can do better in terms of managing the flow of vehicles.

“The roadworks in Bohermore were no help and there were reports of a number of minor accidents but we also have real problems with parking and signage issues in the city.

“And most of all, we need a hands-on specialist traffic control operator – experienced and skilled in traffic management – in the control room at City Hall, to monitor flows at all our key junctions,” said Cllr Fahy.

Public transport also got completely bogged down in the Tuesday evening snarl-up with bus commuters from the city to Oranmore reporting a journey time of close on one hour and 20 minutes.

Buses took up to 20 minutes to make it from their stops in Eyre Square to even get onto College Road which had almost ground to a complete standstill at around 5.30pm.

Another motorist told the Galway City Tribune that his journey time from Forster Street to the Briarhill junction was one hour and 50 minutes on Tuesday evening – 4.10pm to 6pm.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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