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Rundown areas of city set for New Year facelift



Plans for ‘urban regeneration’ targeted at certain parts of Galway City will be advanced early in the New Year.

Finance Minister, Michael Noonan has confirmed that his department officials held discussions in December with Galway City Council in relation to the identities of areas in the city that could be included in the ‘Living City Initiative’.

The project is targeted at Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny. It will see tax-breaks and other relief incentives targeted at inner-city retail and residential areas that are suffering from ‘urban decay’.

The idea is to rejuvenate the city and attract more residents back to living in the city centre as well as reviving the central businesses. It will target in particular run-down and dilapidated vacant residential and business buildings in need of refurbishment.

The project is to be funded by the European Union.

The Minister said he hopes to be in a position to unveil the scheme in the coming months.

A similar scheme in the 1980s regenerated Galway and rid it of the blight of a large number of decayed and derelict buildings.

Minister Noonan said: “Officials from my Department have held preliminary discussions with the relevant local authorities to identify the areas of the six cities, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford, which might fall within the scope of the scheme. Each of the local authorities have now submitted proposals on the areas which they believe should be included. Further discussions will be held in due course. Following changes introduced in this year’s Finance Bill, the residential element of the scheme will apply to all pre-1915 dwellings in the designated areas.

“My officials have also been in contact with the EU Commission on the application for State Aid approval for the Initiative and this process is expected to be concluded shortly. I will not be announcing the areas to be designated until this approval has been received and the initiative is to be commenced. I would expect that I will be in a position to make an announcement in the near future, in conjunction with my cabinet colleagues and the local authorities concerned. It is important to note that I do not see this as a wide-spread initiative, as it is targeted at those areas which are most in need of attention.”

The initiative will include tax incentives for refurbishment works to be carried out on residential and retail buildings in Galway. The works will be either to “bring them up to a habitable standard or even to make improvements to buildings which are currently inhabited,” a report on the Living City Initiative says.

The incentives will be targeted at owner/occupiers rather than property developers and the cost of the major refurbishments will be reimbursed.

For more on this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

Connacht Tribune

One half of Hollywood’s golden couple sings Galway’s praises after trip



Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello and his chihuahua Bubbles, with Fergus Lally of Galway’s Celtic Chauffeurs at the Cliffs of Moher.

He may be married to the highest paid actress in the world, but that did not stop Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello savouring the best that Galway had to offer – hailing the people, the cheese, chocolate and salmon during his trip west.

The American actor, who played stripper Big Dick Richie in Steven Soderbergh’s box office hit Magic Mike, was not joined by Modern Family’s Sofía Vergara until a week later on his trip around Cork.

But he did ring his wife of six years in the US while exploring the countryside of south Galway and Clare with guide, Fergus Lally, who had picked him and his chihuahua Bubbles up from the Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Bushypark on the city’s edge.

“I had a great time with him. I brought him to the Cliffs of Moher and along the way we stopped off at the Hazel Mountain Chocolate factory, the cheese shop at the Aillwee Caves and he had a tasting at the Burren Smoke House in Lisdoonvarna,” reveals Fergus.

“He had an amazing time tasting all the foods. The back of the car was full – everybody did well out of him. He was blown away with the places I brought him. He loved the history of the Corcomroe Abbey and Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara. He was a great guy. I was delighted to drive him. The two of us just clicked.”

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from  

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Connacht Tribune

Covid-19 outbreak compounds UHG crisis



UHG's Emergency Department.

As Government applied the brakes on the planned full reopening of society this Friday, the West’s largest public hospital remained in a state of crisis – dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks, large numbers of patients and lengthy wait times in its Emergency Department and postponed elective procedures.

An outbreak of Covid-19 at University Hospital Galway (UHG) was having a significant impact on critical care services, Saolta University Healthcare Group has warned.

UHG confirmed it was dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks on two wards of the city hospital. A further two wards were being used exclusively to treat Covid positive cases.

This was impacting other patients – elective procedures were postponed at UHG this week due a lack of beds.

On Monday, 41 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in UHG compared with 19 the same day last week.

Portiuncula was treating eight Covid positive patients on Monday, twice as many as last week.

There were two Covid patients in ICU in Ballinasloe and six in ICU in UHG; there were four in ICU in total at both hospitals last week.

Saolta said that people presenting at the Emergency Department in UHG were experiencing long waiting times.

“The hospital has seen a significant increase in patients presenting to the hospital and many of these patients are very sick and need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.

“As a result of the ongoing pressures and lack of bed capacity a number of elective procedures are being postponed. Patients are being contacted directly if their procedure is being postponed,” Saolta said.

Read the full story – and our latest on Covid-19 – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from  

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Connacht Tribune

Galway lecturer’s transatlantic story of Boston dynasty and Irish roots



Larry Donnelly, with the Bostonian, on the grounds of NUI Galway.

Of all the transatlantic cultural differences that greeted Bostonian Larry Donnelly on arrival in Galway, the search for a clean towel in something called a hot press left him puzzled and perplexed most of all. He also came to quickly realise that Hoover had so conquered the vacuum cleaner market that the brand name had become a verb.

But the Boston-born son of an Irish father and Scottish mother – from a famed American political dynasty with roots firmly embedded in Galway and the west – found infinitely more that united his old and new home than divided them.

His voice is familiar to radio listeners from his frequent analysis of American politics; his thoughts are already well-known to readers of his weekly column in – and law students at NUIG have benefited from his expertise in that field on both sides of the Atlantic.

He spent a fair portion of lockdown writing the Bostonian, a biography in part – not just his own, but of his family and his uncle, US Congressman Brian Donnelly (the man forever synonymous with the Donnelly Visas) in particular.

Typical of him, he rarely puts himself centre-stage but what he succeeds in doing is putting his life, his work and his journey into context. He was a man with roots on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean long before he ever made the journey to live here.

The photo on the cover of the Bostonian sets out the stall for the book, uniting uncle and nephew in an iconic pic; US Congressman Brian Donnelly marching in the 1983 Dorchester Day Parade in Boston – and an eight-year-old Larry Donnelly in the baseball cap looking up in wonderment.

“I’d always intended it to be a book about more than me. I particularly wanted it to be the story of Brian’s political career because that deserves to be told – but I didn’t think he would allow that to happen, because he has always loathed the limelight,” he says.

Read the full story – and an exclusive excerpt from the Bostonian – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from  

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