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Connacht Tribune

Stewart Construction scoop gongs for work on Goethe Institut building




Dr Thomas Lier, Director, Goethe-Institut Ireland; Michael Moriarty, 3D Personnel (sponsor), with Rachael Stewart and Roy Pickford from Stewart Construction.

Galway company Stewart Construction was the recipient of the ‘Conservation Project of the Year’ and the ‘Education Project of the Year’ awards for the elegantly reimagined Goethe-Institut in Merrion Square in Dublin.

The annual Irish Construction Industry awards which were held in Dublin last week and are an established platform for recognising and rewarding companies and their teams who strive for excellence within the construction industry in Ireland.

Stewart Construction’s Business Development Director, Rachael Stewart said: “We are extremely proud of receiving these two awards for the Goethe-Institut project which sets a new benchmark for both the conservation and reimagining of Georgian Dublin.”

Designed by Henchion Reuter Architects, and commissioned by the German foreign office, the redevelopment of the Goethe Institut’s Irish Headquarters on Merrion Square in Dublin city centre saw the Protected 1790 Georgian townhouse refurbished to its period glory and in addition, a new garden and contemporary mews building was constructed to the rear of the site. These new structures replace the original long-lost structures in a contemporary tribute to their Georgian predecessors. Significant work and considerations took place to maintain all Georgian details and character while also vastly improving the services, sustainability, and energy efficiency of the site.

The Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, active worldwide in promoting the study of German abroad and encouraging international cultural exchange. For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Just five fines in County Galway for dog fouling in past two years

Denise McNamara



Just five fines have been issued by Galway County Council for dog fouling in the past two years.

Yet responsible citizens who had brought their bottles to be recycled at a bring bank were fined when they were unable to deposit them in the bins provided because they were too full.

The number of dog fouling fines was “a joke” and would do nothing to deter irresponsible dog owners from cleaning up after their pets, exclaimed Cllr Ivan Canning (FG).

He insisted at this month’s Loughrea Municipal District meeting that the proposed Litter Management Plan 2019-2021 could not be enforced properly when only 18 Council workers were employed to police the regulations it contained.

“Until we pay a private company to go after people who litter or dog owners who don’t pick up it’s not going to change. Before the private clamping companies came in, people didn’t mind where they parked. These companies come in and make money and we make a percentage too,” he stressed.

Cllr Martina Kinane (FF) said bring banks needed clear signage that fines would be levied if bottles or boxes were left at the site. She knew of one constituent who was fined in Clarinbridge for leaving bottles beside the bins when they were full.

“We’re trying to encourage recycling,” she reflected.

County Cathaoirleach Jimmy McClearn said he was convinced that the best people to enforce litter regulations were district court judges.

“But they’re not doing it. When occasionally they are prosecuted, these people get the Probation Act or get a small fine. I’ve seen people who are fined, refuse to pay it, are brought to Castlereagh [Prison] and they’re home in the evening and they feel vindicated,” he stated.

“The problem is not with Galway County Council, it’s with national legislation and with the district court justices – they are the best to educate the public about litter management – we can’t cover the county in CCTV.”

Signs threatening fines for littering were useless, believes Cllr PJ Murphy. People were stacking black bags of rubbish against them “just for the craic”.

Bring banks should be located on private land and maintained by petrol stations or GAA clubs for a fee. The bring bank at Labane never had an issue with illegal dumping as it was maintained meticulously by the owners of the petrol station.

Senior Executive Engineer Mike Melody said the Council always had problems locating a bring bank and always consulted with community groups. Galway County Council had no money to pay out to private landowners to look after one.

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Connacht Tribune

Flood relief delays leave South Galway high and far from dry

Denise McNamara



A powerful lobby group has lashed out at the State over delays to flood prevention programmes in South Galway – which they say leave the entire area exposed once again to the threat of further damage this winter.

The South Galway Flood Relief Committee has expressed outrage over the fact that the scheme has been delayed by a further six months – and even a number of local TDs have been lambasted for their lack of action over the situation.

At the same time, the engineer in charge of the same South Galway Flood Relief Scheme has promised that the feasibility study, which is almost complete, will contain design options that best meet environmental challenges and cost-benefit criteria – two factors crucial to securing Government funding.

Galway County Council’s Enda Gallagher explained at this month’s Loughrea Municipal District meeting that the project is over a year behind its original timetable because the design team had ‘hit environmental snags’ and had struggled to devise computer models of the topology and underground channels.

Scientists in Trinity College Dublin were employed to work on the modelling until the end of November when they would produce their report.

Various design options are currently being assessed which take into account the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and the Annex 1 limestone paving, both of which have to be protected in any scheme.

“They are making progress. I expect to see the results in the next number of weeks and hope to produce the results to yourselves and the public,” he stated.

Fine Gael’s Joe Byrne said there was a perception in the public that the feasibility study was yet another report instead of a definitive design solution, which would then have to be sent for funding approval to the Office of Public Works (OPW).

He said there had been very many minor works schemes completed in the last three years which would help alleviate flooding. But there was uncertainty in the community that this major project would ever go ahead.

“I don’t agree with that, but I think there needs to be a public consultation process as soon as the feasibility [report] is done and not for the OPW to sit on it for months and months.”

Party colleague, Cllr PJ Murphy, asked if ground would be moved in 2020 on the scheme.

“Talk of yet another delay in the progression of the South Galway Flood Relief Programme is a source of great concern and frustration to many local people,” he said this week.

“I am told that a more accurate picture of the timelines involved will become clear after the completion of the final feasibility report in the first quarter of 2020,” Cllr Murphy added.

Mr Gallagher said he was unable to give a clear timetable but all would become clearer after the feasibility study was published which would contain “a robust solution that will tick all the boxes”.

From the start he had stated that the scheme had to be “cost beneficial” and complied with the environmental legislation.

The cost benefit analysis had been completed on a separate scheme at Rinrush, where residents in 13 houses had previously been stranded for 58 days. Workers would get in early next year to clear vegetation from the area and build a 1km road to ensure access over the summer.

Chair of the South Galway Flood Relief Committee David Murray recently pointed out that following heavy rain in August and September when over two times the average rainfall was recorded turloughs across the region are full.

“With the reduction in the turlough buffer capacity, we now have a very high potential for flooding this upcoming winter,” he warned on the committee blog.

He said the committee had been informed that a further delay of up to six months was likely in order to complete the feasibility study.

“Credibility is rapidly diminishing on this project – If we remember – ‘diggers on the ground in 2020’ was the mantra at the start of this scheme and now it’s looking more likely that the only thing delivered in 2020 will be yet another report. This is disastrous for South Galway which will more than likely suffer yet another flooding crisis this winter.”

Former Councillor Bridie Willers complained that with the project already a year behind schedule, it appeared that the consultants could keep extending it.

“No explanation as to why the project is delayed once more. To be honest I am convinced they simply do not have the expertise to do the job they agreed to do because, if they did, a solution would have been forthcoming before now,” she wrote on the blog.

“The frustrating part is we can do absolutely nothing about it only sit and wait for our homes, our farms, our roads to be flooded and our community to be isolated again.”

In other schemes across the region, Mr Gallagher said the Dunkellin Bridge should be open to traffic in the first week of November at the latest – and the end of October if the contractors hit no snags.

An application to fund individual flood barriers on homes previously flooded on Kinvara quay had been submitted to the OPW, which had replied asking for substantial details on each building.

Surveys would have to be carried out on 40 homes and a decision made to protect against a one in 1,000-year flood or a one in 200-year flood.

Cllr Byrne said there were 20 homes not 40 that needed the flood gates and four of those had installed them at their own expense after becoming frustrated at how long it was taking for the OPW to fulfil their promise to homeowners.

Cllr PJ Murphy said he raised the matter at a recent meeting of Loughrea Municipal Council only to be told that there would be no diggers on the ground this winter.

“I very much welcome the completion of all pipe laying and drainage works in the Kiltiernan Flood relief scheme.

“This scheme is now fully functional and all that remains to be completed is some of the ground levelling and reseeding works as well as the restoration of walls and fences,” he said.

Separately, Galway County Council are advancing proposals with the Office of Public Works to resolve the access problems caused in recent years by high flood levels at Rinrush, Gort.

These proposals involve the improvement of access routes only and do not include any flood alleviation measures. The plans for this project are at an advanced stage and it is hoped that these works can begin as soon as early 2020.

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Connacht Tribune

Black Gate provides perfect stage for Ultan’s new songs




Ultan Conlon....back home for Galway gig.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

It’s been a busy eighteen months for Loughrea singer-songwriter Ultan Conlon. Since releasing his third full-length LP in April of last year, he has written and performed extensively both at home and abroad, culminating in a recent, fruitful trip to LA.

But it’s all back home shortly, as Ultan plays the Black Gate on Sunday, November 10, in his final Galway show of 2019.

Among some carefully chosen older songs, he will be premiering a selection of new material set for release on his upcoming album, entitled There’s a Waltz.

Recorded in LA with esteemed bluegrass musician Sean Watkins, Ultan’s fourth release was born out of connections he has held on the other side of the Atlantic for several years.

“I’ve been to LA a few times,” he notes. “About four years ago, the second or third time I’d been there, I hired a PR lady and she sent a couple of my videos to a venue there called Largo.

“I’d never heard of it because I don’t know the LA scene but the day I arrived, he had asked her if I’d do a gig that night. It was really nice – a 300 plus seated theatre.

“On the walls there were photos of massive stand-up comics and musicians… Zach Galifianakis and Aimee Mann… I was thinking ‘Maybe this is just LA and this just happens here’ but it turns out Largo is a go-to spot for a lot of them and it’s hard enough to get into but I was lucky enough to get in.”

Largo has proved to be a valuable stage for Ultan. From that initial gig four years ago, he has forged relationships with a variety of talented musicians and producers in the US.

“I met people through doing the gigs,” he recalls. “The guy who produced this album, Sean Watkins, originally played in Nickle Creek, a very big bluegrass band with Grammies and multi-million selling albums.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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