One of the busiest roads in the county is set for a further upgrade as part of a €5 million investment on the main N63 Galway to Roscommon route.
Works are nearing completion on a three-mile stretch from Annagh Hill to Abbeyknockmoy – but it now has been confirmed that Transport Infrastructure Ireland will fund further road widening on the other side of Abbeyknockmoy on a one-mile section towards Moylough.
And, significantly, these works will involve the construction of a new bridge over the Abbert River which will take the existing right-angled bridge out of commission. The €5 million project is expected to go to planning in early 2019.
When the works are completed it will not alone provide an extension to the cycle path which is currently being construct as part of the ongoing works, but it will also give ease of access to the local church, primary school, community centre, creche and playground.
Members and officials of Galway County Council met with senior representatives from Transport Infrastructure Ireland who informed them that they are willing to support another phase of the N63 improvement scheme.
During the course of 2017 works began on the three-mile stretch which involved a major road-widening project as well as the provision of a cycle lane all the way into the village.
These works have caused almost a year of traffic disruption on the N63 but it is expected that the contractors will move off site possibly by the summer when the €8.5 million project is completed.
There are a lot of works still to be carried out and there are still ongoing discussions with some of the 64 property owners who were affected by the scheme.
According to Cllr Pete Roche, when these works are completed Galway County Council can then submit a proposal to TII for a major road-widening project on the other side of Abbeyknockmoy Village and this will involve bypassing the extremely narrow and dangerous Newtown Bridge.
“When we met with officials from TII, they were very conscious of the need to carry out further improvement works on the N63 but made it quite clear that the ball is firmly in Galway County Council’s court.
“Transport Infrastructure Ireland stated categorically that they were willing to fund this particular stretch as well and it will involve the provision of a new bridge over the Abbert River – something that we have been demanding for years,” Cllr Roche added.
The Fine Gael councillor said that once the current works are completed in a matter of months, then the onus was on Galway County Council’s engineers to draft a proposal for the one-mile section on the Moylough side of Abbeyknockmoy Village.
He said that if it went to planning in 2019, then there was every possibility of works commencing on this stretch the following year. “To be quite honest, the support that was forthcoming from the TII officials we met came as something of a surprise to me,” Cllr Roche remarked.
Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!
Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.
Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.
Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.
The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.
Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.
Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.
“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.
*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City 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.
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.