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Regeneration project to be extended to former bar premises

Enda Cunningham



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.


Gardaí raid cocaine lab in Galway City

Enda Cunningham



Some of the cash and drugs seized by Gardaí in Galway

Two men have been arrested following a Garda raid in which a cocaine laboratory was discovered in Galway City.

In total, Gardaí seized €178,500 in cash, €50,000 worth of cocaine (subject to analysis) and a number of drug manufacturing components as part of an intelligence-led operation into the sale and supply of drugs in the Galway Garda Division.

At 7.40pm yesterday (Sunday) the Divisional Drugs Unit in Galway stopped and searched a car on the M6 motorway in the vicinity of Loughrea where €17,580 worth of cash was seized.

As part of a follow-up search, Gardaí uncovered what is believed to be a cocaine processing laboratory and seized cocaine (pending analysis) with an estimated value of €50,000 at an address in Galway City.

At this address, Gardaí seized a quantity of mixing agent, a cocaine press, vacuum packer, industrial gas masks, and a cash counting machine, which are believed to have been used in the manufacture of cocaine for sale or supply.

In a further follow-up search, Gardaí seized €161,000 in cash at a separate premises in the city.

One man in his 20s was arrested following the detection on the M6, while a second man in his 30s was arrested at a property in Galway City.

Both men are currently detained at Galway Garda Station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drugs Trafficking) Act 1996.

These seizures were part of an intelligence led operation and were detected by the Galway Divisional Drugs Unit with the assistance of the Western Regional Armed Support Unit.

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“It will be akin to the notorious Rahoon flats”

Enda Cunningham



The Rahoon flats, which were built in 1972 and demolished in 1998, widely regarded as a failed social housing project.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – More than 700 local residents have signed a petition against plans for the construction of 330 apartments in Knocknacarra – which have been likened to “the notorious Rahoon flats”.

Child safeguarding concerns have also been raised by the principal of Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh – who pointed out that the apartments will look directly into 19 classrooms.

A total of 27 objections were lodged against Glenveagh Living’s plans to build 332 apartments in six blocks – ranging from four storeys to seven storeys in height.

Locals have demanded An Bord Pleanála hold an oral hearing into the plans – that planning authority is due to make a decision by March 20, although it can decide to hold such a hearing first.

A computer-generated image of the Glenveagh plans for the site opposite Gort na Bró and beside Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh.

One of the objections – which accuses the developer of designing “tenement style” homes in a “blatant attempt to profiteer from the housing crisis” – was signed by more than 700 local residents.

Another objector said the development was “akin to the notorious Rahoon flats, with people being packed on top of each other”.

Locals have raised concerns about the huge number of apartments planned; overshadowing of homes; inadequate open space, playing pitches and community infrastructure; parking and traffic problems; low quality of design and road safety.

Glenveagh Living did not respond to a request from the Galway City Tribune for comment.
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the Glenveagh plans and objections, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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Arts fraternity rallies as Theo faces deportation

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Less than a year after being invited by the Arts Council to perform at a conference about diversity in the arts, a musician, DJ and rapper – who is about to embark on a project for Galway 2020 – is facing deportation.

Theophilus Ndlovu left Zimbabwe after what he claims was a lifetime of abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to mind him.

His mother left when he was just six years old and he never met his father. He was placed in the care of an unofficial foster family but it was never a happy arrangement.

“These people I stayed with were abusing me. They were never my family. I was running away from persecution and abuse and the way I was treated by these people. I had to fend for myself since I was ten years old,” he recalls.

When Theo was 20, he saved up enough money from mowing lawns and selling chickens to escape, arriving in Ireland where he sought asylum. Authorities placed him in a Direct Provision Centre in Finglas for a fortnight before he was transferred to the Great Western Direct Provision Centre off Eyre Square, where he has remained for nearly four years.

Almost immediately, Theo felt at home.

“This is my family. Galway is where I found my voice. It has become my home. It is just where I’m meant to be.”

Theo has immersed himself in the arts community and has become a leading hip-hop artist, known as Touché, performing regularly at venues such as the Róisín Dubh and the Black Gate. He was instrumental in getting fellow asylum seekers and refugees involved in music collaborations.

He is a founding member of the multicultural music project ‘Atmos Collective’ and has facilitated numerous music workshops in Galway, “teaching, motivating and inspiring hundreds of young people along the way”, according to co-founder Alice McDowell, an Australian filmmaker and fiddler.

The collective was recently granted funding by the Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 committee to host community music workshops in the city and county over the next year as part of their ‘Small Towns Big Ideas’ scheme.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

The petition is available online HERE

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