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Traders fear pedestrian-only area could drive away business



Date Published: {J}

By Dara Bradley

A series of meetings with city centre businesses and residents will be organised to sway public opinion in favour of plans for the further pedestrianisation of Galway’s streets.

But business representatives have this week voiced concern that Galway could become get a reputation as an “unfriendly city” for cars and could drive customers away from the heart of the city.

At a meeting on Wednesday, City Hall officials unveiled proposals to pedestrianise and introduce ‘shared surfaces’ along three main thoroughfares through the city centre.

One of the proposals is to provide a ‘shared surface’ along Eglinton Street to Williamsgate Street. A shared surface will exclude private cars from the street, which will in effect be pedestrianised, but will allow buses and public transport to ‘share’ the street.

Council officials outlined the plans to, and received feedback from, the businesses and residents along the route and business representatives at the meeting in the Imperial Hotel.

Joe Tansey, Senior Engineer at Galway Transportation Unit, said the proposal is only in its infancy and detailed plans, including traffic management and implementation programmes, will be drawn up.

The three proposals are part of the City and County Council’s joint bid to secure €25 million in Government funding for the Galway Metropolitan Area Smarter Travel Plan, which covers the city, Barna, Oranmore and Claregalway.

Mr Tansey said as part of the bid, the Council is committed to “enhancing the public realm”, reducing car usage and recovering road space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

CEO of Galway Chamber Michael Coyle said he is fully behind the Smarter Transport bid and the policy objectives of more sustainable transport modes in the city but cautioned that Galway could get an ‘anti-car’ reputation, if it takes measures that go too far against the motorist.

Mr Coyle said there is a very delicate balance to be struck between promoting alternatives to the car but “there is a tipping point” and if the anti-car measures go too far, there is a danger “people who want, need, prefer or like to use the car”, will do their shopping in places that welcome cars.

“When clamping was introduced, Galway got a bad reputation that if you go to Galway you’ll get clamped. There is a danger that people won’t come to Galway because they will think ‘it’s not friendly place to bring your car to shop’.

“We have to be careful – we can have a fantastic ambiance and streetscape with a great atmosphere where people congregate in the city centre but do their shopping elsewhere, which will not support the city centre as Galway’s primary retail district,” he said.

For more, read page 13 of this week’s Connacht Sentinel

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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