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Students unveil Buggingham Palace – new five-star hotel



In normal circumstances, bugs would be the bane of hotel life – but not in Clonfert where a brand new five-star facility has opened ….specifically for the little mites.

And the boys and girls of St. Brendan’s N.S. are inviting every insect, bird, animal and organism in Connacht to their unique winter eco-lodge; the five-star bug hotel people are now calling Buggingham Palace.


This small village is making a big difference in biodiversity as a part of their Green Schools campaign for 2016.

The students, staff and parents of St. Brendan’s have put on their hard hats and thinking-caps and gathered enough recyclable materials like old carpets, pallets, clay pots, bamboos, bricks, twigs, leaves and pine cones to name a few and the Green Schools Committee along with their Green schools Co-ordinator Mr. Sean Corcoran have begun constructing the Bug Hotel.

We student reporters – Ben Flanagan and Cian Casey – went into the field to interview some locals for their thoughts on the matter.

Hotel Manager James Clancy from third class was well up for the challenge.

“I am looking forward to seeing many types of bees checking in, the honey bee and the solitary bee in particular, they will help to pollinate our flowers!” he said.

Parish priest Fr. Declan McInerney was full of praise for the project – mixed with a little apprehension.

“I am delighted to welcome all God’s creatures to Clonfert and I would have no problem blessing the bug hotel but I would not be staying overnight!” he admitted.

Principal Mrs. Déirdre Boyle was also delighted about all the potential new wildlife coming to her school garden.

“We have one big wildlife hotel but the children have made many mini bug hotels from plastic bottles, twigs, pine cones, tree bark and leaves, so everyone is getting on board with helping Biodiversity in any way they can at our school!” she said.

Ben and Cian also caught up with Jennifer Broderick in the school yard, who neither confirmed nor denied that they are expecting some very high profile celebrity guests – including the Beatles – to arrive any time in the coming weeks.

Green schools co-ordinator Sean Corcoran has been using his skills as a carpenter to construct the hotel, wanted to explain why Biodiversity was so important to St. Brendan’s N.S.

“Biodiversity is all life on our planet. It’s what keeps us alive so we should do our best keep it alive!

“I am delighted with the response from the pupils and parents, we have amounted plenty of recycled materials which have allowed us to construct a really colourful and diverse insect hotel.

“It is easy to construct, you just need recyclable materials, old pallets, and you can even reuse the old nails from the pallets, so that everything is recycled!

“This is just the first stage in our action plan, we have already planted a Hazel Tree for Tetra Pak Tree day on October 8, and we will be sewing lots of vegetables, fruit and flowers, building a hedgehog pit-stop and bird houses in the coming weeks and hopefully by Spring our garden will be bursting with life!” he added.

The Green Schools committee have decided upon the slogan ‘Respect and Protect All Nature’ to promote awareness in the Clonfert community.

There will be an official Green Schools opening day this Friday at 12 noon, when the hotel will be given its official name and the children will recite poems, read stories and perform their Green Schools song all under this year’s theme of ‘Biodiversity’.

And the pupils of St Brendan’s now hope that other schools will follow in their footsteps and build wildlife habitats so that Irish Schools can work together on their green theme

Connacht Tribune

Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison



A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.

Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.

The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.

A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.

At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.

They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.

Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.

The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.

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Connacht Tribune

Dismay as marine park proposal rejected by planners



A lifeline project, with the potential to create around 200 long-term jobs in an area of South Connemara ravaged by unemployment and emigration, has been rejected by planners – primarily environmental grounds.
The proposed marine park or Páirc na Mara, east of Cill Chiaráin village, was viewed by many as a real chance to turn the tide for this unemployment blackspot.
Locals – and the vast majority of Galway West politicians – were supportive of the project which was viewed as one that would revitalise the area.
That said, Galway County Council’s decision to refuse permission for the marine park was welcomed by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages which had expressed fears that the marine farm would extract huge amounts of fresh water to breed more than 1.5 million salmon smolts.
They said that millions of litres of fresh water would have been extracted on a regular basis by the salmon farm company operating the smolt rearing units – from the same lakes as the Carna and Cill Chiaráin water supply system.
“Local residents can now rest assured that their domestic water supply won’t be hijacked to line the pockets of people who have no regard for the local environment or residents,” said Billy Smyth, Chairman of Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages.
It was proposed to provide a marine innovation park Pairc na Mara on a 60-acre brownfield site at Cill Chiarain.
The development involves the provision of a number of marine-based facilities as well as education and research facilities in the townlands of Cill Chiarain, Ardmore and Calvary.
It involves the abstraction of water from Lough Scannan, its transfer to and temporary storage in Iron Lake along with impoundment and pumping to the Marine Park site with a rising main.
According to the application, Galway County Council has previously granted planning permission for aquaculture-based activities on the site of the proposed marine park back in 2002 while the first phase of the innovation park was built in 2005.
There were a considerable number of submissions supporting the application with many saying that this part of Connemara would benefit greatly from such a development.
But there were others who expressed concern over the potential impact it would have on the environment, and it would be located in a highly sensitive area.
Cllr Gerry King said that it was a valuable opportunity lost to the area given the amount of unemployment that exists. He added that there was local outrage at the decision.
The Fianna Fail councillor met with those behind the project and residents in support of the project. He said that they all agreed that this decision should be appealed to the higher planning authority.
It was refused on the basis that it would adversely affect the integrity and conservation objectives of the European sides in the vicinity of environmental value.
Planners stated that they could not be certain that the project would not adversely affect the integrity of Cill Ciaran Bay, the islands and Connemara bog complex
They also said that the Environmental Impact Assessment Report did not present a sufficient level of information on the impact it would have on human health, biodiversity, land, soil, water along with cultural heritage and the landscape.

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Connacht Tribune

Council rules that honey business is in Special Area of Conservation



A North Connemara beekeeper has expressed his dismay at the County Council’s refusal to issue an exemption to allow him proceed with an apiary on farmlands at Rossadillisk.

Tom Termini, who has lived in the area for the past 25 years, purchased the lands just off the coastline with the intention of beekeeping there, but plans to expand have come to a halt after an enforcement order was issued by the Council last Summer.

Mr Termini said he had been of the understanding that the 20msq agricultural storage building which was portable in nature would not require planning permission because of its agricultural purpose and its location on appropriately zoned lands.

However, after receiving a letter from the Council, he engaged the services of an engineer who recommended seeking a Declaration of Exemption from planning.

“The area is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) so we engaged the services of another engineer who carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment and it was found it would have no impact,” said Mr Termini.

The report, compiled by Delichon Ecology, states that there are 17 sites protected by European SAC status within 15km of the proposed development, but concludes that ‘the completed groundworks and proposed agricultural building, either individually or in combination with other projects and plans, is not likely to have a significant impact on any European site’.

Mr Termini said no explanation as to why his application was refused was forthcoming, but that he had since applied for retention on the partially completed structure.

“After I invested in the property, I started down the route of setting up the apiary because I had one when I was in the States, and I’m a member of the local association. I decided to build a bigger shed so we could expand beyond being a service to have a product offering,” said Mr Termini who owns and operates Bluedog Honey.

He said the company would bring economic benefits to what was a small, rural area and the lands he owned were 90% bog, unsuited to many other forms of agriculture.

“We’d hoped to have it up and running by February 2020, but the pandemic set that back and then we got the letter from the Council as works were progressing towards opening this February.

“This facility would not impact on the area – other than using water to wash natural matter, there is no discharge – I’m perplexed by it all really,” said Mr Termini.

An application for retention of the structure was sent to Galway County Council this month, with a decision due by August 15.

Mr Termini said he would be forced to appeal to An Bord Pleanála if this application was turned down, but said he was being assisted by local Councillor Eileen Mannion, whom he said supported enterprise in the area.

“This has been going on for 18 months and really, what I want to do is get to the next stage where we can grow the business and deal with the stresses that come with that – not this,” said Mr Termini.

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