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Connacht Tribune

Sacred places with rich history

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Lifestyle – The influence of Irish monks on early Christianity is renowned. But with the Reformation in the 1500s and later the Penal Laws, their monasteries and abbeys fell into disuse. The country is dotted with their ruins and thanks to the work of archaeologists and local communities, many of the buildings have rich stories to tell as JUDY MURPHY learns.

The beautiful Meelick Church, on the banks of the Shannon in East Galway, is billed as the oldest still-functioning Catholic church in Ireland, having been in use since 1414. But any tourist, foreign or Irish, wanting to visit this sacred and historic place would want to be determined – and be blessed with a good sense of direction.

Driving along the narrow roads that lead to Meelick Weir, there isn’t a sign that to indicate this church actually exists. Thankfully, perseverance pays off and having navigated many bends on an increasingly narrow road, there it is – a simple, elegant structure which was once part of a larger Franciscan settlement close to the Shannon.

The last friar left in the mid-1800s, after which the church came under the remit of Clonfert Diocese. Mass is still celebrated in this simple, spiritual place and the Saturday evening ceremony was just about to begin as we departed.

Meelick is part of the Hymany Way walking trail, a 100km path which follows the course of the Shannon. On this occasion, however, we were travelling by car to what was our final destination on an tour of ecclesiastical sites of East Galway and into Offaly.

It was a sunny Saturday and as the rest of the country headed towards the Atlantic beaches, we were almost on our own as we wandered through once-great religious settlements at Clonmacnoise, Clontuskert Abbey, Kilnalahan Abbey (in Abbey of Abbey-Duniry fame) and Meelick. Except for the famed St Ciarán’s site at Clonmacnoise, we met almost nobody in these places. Even Clonmacnoise, which was relatively busy, was far from packed.

This heritage site, on the banks of the Shannon which is accessed via narrow roads between Ballinasloe and Athlone, is a special place. The original monastery, which was founded in the 6th century by St Ciarán, who was its first abbot, is home to the ruins of seven churches, three high crosses, a cathedral, two round towers and more than 700 early Christian burial slabs.

Those early monks knew what they were doing and the monastery’s location, by the Shannon and at an important bridging point in the centre of the country, ensured it became a major centre of learning and religion, where many of Ireland’s finest Celtic manuscripts and art were created.  Artefacts found here include the Clonmacnoise Crozier (now in the National Museum) and the 12th century Book of the Dun Cow.

Today, Clonmacnoise is under the care of the Office of Public Works and, because of Covid, admission is free although it must be pre-booked. But there are no guided tours, which is a great pity. The friendly person we met at the reception area informed us about the Covid-compliant entry route and handed us a sheet of paper which had limited details about the site. After that we were on our own on this medieval monastic settlement. Figuring out what was what involved a lot of guesswork.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Hospitality group raises €90k

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Lorraine Gallagher (left) and Charlene Hurley of Galway Hospice presented with a cheque for €27,537 by Brian Lynch and Eveanna Ryan of Connacht Hospitality.

The Connacht Hospitality Group this week announced that they raised more than €90,000 for a range of good Irish causes throughout 2022.

The group, which owns well-known Galway establishments including The Connacht Hotel, An Púcán, HYDE Hotel, Residence Hotel and 1520 Bar, as well as the Galway Bay Golf Resort, held a range of events at various stages of 2022 to fundraise for Claddagh Watch Patrol, the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI), Galway Hospice and Make-A-Wish Ireland.

The announcement of over €90,000 worth of funds raised by the Connacht Hospitality Group for national and local charities comes off the back of the past 12 months which saw the group aim to make Corporate Social Responsibility a core part of their identity. This focus allowed them to become more aware of the causes that need assistance while also raising the profile of many of the charities.

The group arranged a diverse array of events to raise funds, and had lots of imaginative ways of grabbing the public’s attention. One event saw people attend HYDE Bar to savour a menu made by a mystery celebrity. In the end, it was revealed that TV personality Gráinne Seoige was the Executive Chef on a night that generated over €8,000 for the NBCRI.

Another event saw staff take part in a ‘Sunrise Swim’ in Salthill – and the public donated in their droves. All money raised went towards Claddagh Watch Patrol, an organisation that works to make Galway’s waterways safer by preventing accidental death and suicide.

One of the most successful fundraisers was the Galway Bay Golf Resort’s Golf Classic, which raised over €22,000 for Galway Hospice.

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

Residents in fear of gangs travelling to rural Galway to burgle homes

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Detective Superintendent Shane Cummins.

Residents in rural County Galway are living in fear of being burgled after one small area suffered at least 10 raids in the month of January.

Councillor Mary Hoade told a meeting of the County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) this week that those figures were for around Headford alone, as she called for additional resources to target travelling crime gangs visiting the county.

“Some of these burglaries are taking place in the morning when people go to work; some are in the evening; and others at night. It’s very frightening.  We recognise that these criminals are coming into the county, but we need more support to fight crime,” said Cllr Hoade.

“Rural garda stations have less resources . . . we’re relying on the resources in the nearest town,” she continued.

The Fianna Fáil councillor said gardaí couldn’t be everywhere at once, but communities needed to act as their eyes and ears and report suspicious activity when they see it. Detective Superintendent Shane Cummins (pictured) told the JPC that Galway was being targeted from time to time by travelling gangs.

“Three different gangs visited the county on one day recently,” said Det Supt Cummins.

Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) said she believed increased CCTV and automatic number plate recognition cameras – to capture known gangs on tour – should be rolled out.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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IDA Ireland’s €10m land purchase backs Oranmore for industry base

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Former Mayor of County Galway, Liam Carroll.

IDA Ireland has trebled its footprint on the outskirts of Oranmore by purchasing more than 100 acres of land to support industry.

It’s understood the semi-state body purchased some 42.9 hectares on the outskirts of Oranmore, for a price in excess of €10 million.

The strategic purchase of land adjacent to some 21 hectares zoned ‘business and technology’ and already owned by the IDA, was a “major vote of confidence” in Oranmore and Galway, according Cathaoirleach of the Athenry/Oranmore Municipal District, County Councillor Liam Carroll (FG).

It brings the total amount of land owned by the IDA in the area to over 150 acres.

This latest parcel, purchased at the end of 2022, is located off the N67 Claregalway Road, to the north and east of the Galway to Dublin Rail line.

“It would be ideally suited and attractive to a major multinational company or companies for the establishment of a high tech, pharmaceutical or medical device type facility,” Cllr Carroll said.

The entire site of 150-plus acres is close to the M6 motorway, and an hour away from international links, Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport in Knock.  It is also close to a number of potential Park & Ride sites, identified by the National Transport Authority as being suitable for commuters.

It’s understood the land is zoned agricultural and would require a material alteration to the County Development Plan to be voted on by county councillors, in order for it to be rezoned before 2028.

(Photo: Cllr Liam Carroll, who believes the land could be developed for a tech or pharmaceutical hub).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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