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Connacht Tribune

Road improvements sound death knell for former railway bridge

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One of the landmark structures along the N63 Galway-Roscommon route – the Ballyglunin Railway Bridge – was removed last weekend as part of ongoing road improvement works in the area.

Local people gathered last Saturday morning to say farewell to the bridge that has been both a friend and foe to them over the past number of decades.

The sound of trains going by at Ballyglunin was part of the daily routine from 1860 until the mid-1970s, when regular services came to an end along the line, due to a rationalisation programme being carried out by Irish Rail.

Although a number of special trains continued to use the track into the early 1990s, the Tuam to Athenry line went completely out of commission over 20 years ago, despite the spirited efforts of rail enthusiasts to restore a service there.

For local people though, the bridge will also be remembered as the location where many lorry drivers had to bring their vehicles to ‘a full stop’, due to the 4.14 metre height limitation of the structure.

The situation was especially bad for lorry drivers approaching from the Abbeyknockmoy direction as they often had to reverse for nearly a mile to access an alternative route via the ‘New Line’ road to Monivea, Crumlin and then back to Ballyglunin Cross. Occasionally they managed to turn their vehicles with the co-operation of local landowners.

On numerous occasions down through the years, the bridge was damaged as some lorry drivers tried to edge their way under the structure and nearly four decades ago, only the alertness of a local man helped to prevent what could have been a disastrous train derailment.

Willie Rabbitte, who lives literally a stone’s throw from the bridge, recalled on Saturday morning last,how back in the 1970s, he had noticed that the bridge was seriously damaged by a truck that had jarred the rail track out of place.

He notified Irish Rail of the problem and all trains were immediately cancelled along the route until full repairs were carried out, leading eventually to a replacement bridge being put in place.

The bridge removal took only about four minutes to complete on Saturday morning last, shortly after 10.30, but weeks and months of planning had gone into the logistics of the project.

The N63 road between Abbeyknockmoy village and Finn’s Cross was closed from 8am on Saturday morning and was not due to re-open again until 8am on Sunday – however, works proceeded ahead of schedule and the carriageway was re-opened by about 4pm on Saturday.

TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland), Harringtons, Maveric and Walsh Crane Hire were involved in the bridge removal operation – shortly afterwards the bridge was dismantled and removed for scrap.

Site Agent for Harringtons, Gerry Fahy, told the Connacht Tribune that the removal was carried out by a 220 tonne crane, and that concrete slabs within the structure had first been broken up, to take some of the weight from the bridge.

“We had opted for a 24-hour road closure but thankfully the bridge removal operation went like clockwork and we were able to re-open the road in time for the evening traffic coming out from Galway city on Saturday.

“I would also like to thank everyone involved in the project for their professionalism and also to thank road users and local people for their co-operation,” Gerry Fahy told the Connacht Tribune.

Prior to the bridge being removed, sections of the old track between Ballyglunin and Crumlin had been taken up by Irish Rail – the likelihood of any rail service being resumed between Tuam and Athenry in the short to medium term is regarded as remote by most observers.

However, TII have given a commitment, that in the event of Irish Rail proposing to restore a train service between Tuam and Athenry, the bridge will be replaced.

A number of local councillors and outdoor enthusiasts have proposed that the now disused Tuam to Athenry rail route should be converted into a Greenway for pedestrians and cyclists, with a ‘light weight’ bridge to be put in place at Ballyglunin.

For now, though, commuters along the N63 will now just see two clay embankments on either side of the road where the bridge used to be, as work continues on the €8 million Abbeyknockmoy to Brooklodge road revamp project that’s due to be completed around this time next year.

Connacht Tribune

Football’s a funny old game – and you can quote me on that

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

If someone actually made it a requirement of your commitment to your job that you run through a brick wall for them, surely the people from health and safety would have to intervene?

And yet this the ultimate tribute a manager pays to their star player, as a way of suggesting he or she would always go the extra yard.

Never mind that the world now measures in metres, but whatever the currency, what would be the point of going a yard or metre further than was required?

Because going the extra yard would mean you’ve gone too far, which sort of defeats the whole plan in the first place.

And yet you hear it all the time, because sports stars have a way of giving an interview which revolves around half a dozen stock answers – all of which leave you none the wiser when it’s over.

Managers learn how to expand on these stock replies to incorporate a whole new range of clichés that fill airtime but answer nothing.

More to the point, they often mean nothing too.

Because where else in life would 100 per cent commitment to the particular cause never be quite enough – given that everyone else was giving 110 per cent?

And yet that too is among those most common clichés expressed in post-match set-piece interviews; packed to the wall with observations that actually mean precisely nothing.

Those post-game interviews were in the news for more serious reasons in recent weeks, after one of the biggest stars of the world of tennis, Naomi Osaka, declined to do them during the French Open because she said that negative questions on her performance were impacting on her mental health.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
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Connacht Tribune

Sporting organisations letting us down by rolling over to NPHET

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Galway players Niamh McGrath and Siobhan Gardiner show their disappointment after falling to Kilkenny in Sunday's National Camogie League final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IRELAND’S various big sporting organisations continue to embarrass themselves in relation to how they are handling the Covid pandemic. Being slaves to public health guidelines is one thing, but these bodies have introduced some rules of their own which are only further alienating their support base.

The GAA, IRFU, the FAI and Horse Racing Ireland may be currently dependent on public finances to keep their respective shows on the road, but that can’t excuse their lack of independent thinking or the fact they are making a deeply frustrating situation worse by adding in their own Covid-19 regulations

In effect, these sporting bodies are trying too hard to please NPHET and it doesn’t seem to matter how much they inconvenience or antagonise their grassroots in the process. Take the GAA, for instance. At club level dressing rooms remain closed and that causes significant irritation, especially on wet days.

Horse Racing Ireland is no better. Two owners per runner have been allowed back at race meetings and while that number is about to increase to four, there has been little enthusiasm among the cohort of people who pay the bills to return. And why would they? – no catering, no bookies and no atmosphere. And the most absurd thing of all is that the racing authorities are still enforcing the mask-wearing regulation.

Imagine still having to use a face covering in what amounts to big open fields. Is Horse Racing Ireland clueless as to how foolish jockeys, trainers, the few owners and media people present are being made to look, especially when the risk of contracting Covid is negligible in such an environment? All the while, beaches, public parks and walkways are milling with people.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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Connacht Tribune

The thrill of learning

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Embracing education: Anna Keane who will begin a BA in September; Anne Marie Ward who is doing a part-time degree in Youth, Community and Family Studies; Owen Ward who has a Master’s in Education and works at NUIG; and Jason Sherlock who will embark on a Master’s in International Finance in September. All entered NUIG via its Access Programme.

Lifestyle – Most members of the Travelling community are unlikely to finish secondary education and only a tiny proportion go to university. But for people who want an academic education, NUIG is leading the way. Four keen learners share their stories with JUDY MURPHY, among them post-graduate Owen Ward who works in NUIG’s Access Office, assisting people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Starting third-level education can be daunting for even the most confident teenager. Entering a massive campus, meeting so many new people, trying to figure out timetables, deciding what societies to join and just finding your feet – those early weeks can be a challenge.

That’s how Jason Sherlock felt when the young city man began his degree at NUIG in 2018. A member of the Travelling community, Jason had more reason than most to feel daunted in this educational establishment. According to the 2016 Census, only one percent of Travellers go on to third level – although that has increased slightly since then, thanks to people like Jason and his mentor, Owen Ward, a Programme Coordinator in the university’s Access Office.

Jason, who entered university though the Access Programme, which supports students from ‘non-traditional backgrounds’, will begin studying for a Master’s in International Finance in September, having completed a degree in Economics, Sociology and Political Science.

As we meet on the campus at NUIG on a sunny Friday, he recalls having his photo taken by the Tribune 11 years ago, on his final day at Scoil Bhríde National School in Shantalla, where he had never missed a day.

But university was different. Initially, Jason felt it wasn’t for him and almost dropped out of his course. That’s where Owen Ward appeared. Owen who graduated from NUIG in 2014, having also entered via the Access Programme, was back doing a Master’s in Education.  He heard Jason was on campus and went looking for him among the 18,000 students.

“I didn’t know Jason at the time but I knew his father. And I tracked him down,” he recalls with a laugh. Having done that, he was able to support the younger man in those difficult early days. Jason found his feet and with Owen went on to set up Mincéirs Whiden, a new society at NUIG. The first of its kind in any third-level institution, Mincéirs Whiden is for Traveller students but is open to all. Members include students from the settled community, Irish and international.

Anne Marie Ward, who is beginning her third year of a part-time degree in Youth, Community and Family Studies, is the incoming chair of Mincéirs Whiden.

She’s also the new Ethnic Minorities Officer for the NUIG Students’ Union, the first member of the Travelling Community to be elected to a position in the student body.  She is Owen’s sister.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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