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Trawl to value angling sector

Stephen Corrigan

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Galway’s avid anglers are being asked for their help in compiling research on a multi-million euro industry – with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) developing a first in its kind study of the country’s fisheries management.

Anglers will be invited to share their views and opinions on recreational angling and provide the organisation with information on fishing that is currently unavailable to decision makers – at both national and local levels.

The ESRI, through their links with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), have access to a lot of information on the fish themselves – but know very little about those trying to land them.

According to Associate Research Professor at the ESRI, John Curtis, this is an area that they hope to shed new light on.

“We have a research programme with Inland Fisheries and we know a lot about the biology of the fish,” he said. “We know very little about the number of people who fish and that is something we want to build a better picture of.”

Because of the lack of information, it is hard to quantify how valuable angling is to the Galway economy, but it is a huge industry – and never more than at the moment with the Mayfly season now in full swing.

It was estimated in 2012 by Tourism Development International that it was worth almost €800 million to the Irish economy.

Brown trout angling, of which a substantial amount is concentrated in the wider Galway area, was worth roughly €148 million.

It is anticipated that this research will play a key role in the development of infrastructure and facilities available to anglers.

“There are many different types of anglers – say for instance coarse anglers, bream or pike anglers all want different facilities.

“We want to know, for example, are they looking for an angling area that is more remote,” said Mr Curtis.

He believed that this research would help those trying to attract tourist anglers, while also giving policy-makers information about the causes of pollution.

“This will help improve and protect water quality,” he said. “When these decisions come to the cabinet table, they will have the information available to them.”

Current data suggests that there are in the region of 406,000 people who take part in angling at least once per year – 252,000 of which are domestic anglers.

Around 113,000 are from overseas while 41,000 make trips across the border from the Northern Ireland – and this study will endeavour to examine the benefits of fisheries to their local economies.

As of now, the ESRI are calling on all anglers to sign-up and join the panel who can volunteer to participate in the study.

“This will be highly prized information,” said Mr Curtis. “It will allow those who own the fisheries to concentrate on the things that will bring them more business.”

The surveys will be carried out over the summer and those interested can find more details, and join the research panel on the ESRI website.

Connacht Tribune

Old mills set for new life as distillery

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the new distillery.

An old corn mill in East Galway is set to be transformed into a €6 million whiskey and gin manufacturing distillery – once planning permission has been granted for the development.

And if approved, the distillery has the potential to create more than 15 new jobs directly in the village of Ahascragh, providing a huge economic boost to the area – and rescuing the old corn mill which ceased operation in the 1950s.

A planning application for the new brewery has just been submitted by Gareth and Michelle McAllister of McAllister Distillers in North Dublin, with a decision due before the end of the year.

Gareth McAllister told The Connacht Tribune that he intended to renovate the old building while retaining some of the old features such as a mill wheel, and utilise the stream that runs through the property.

The complex, as well as producing various styles of Irish whiskey and gin, will also include a visitor centre, rooms for hospitality events, a retail shop and cafe.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Aer Arann marks half a century of linking islands to the mainland

Dara Bradley

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Current Aer Arann owners Jarlath Conneely (left) and Peter McKenna, pictured in front of their aircraft. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

When Coley Hernon of Cill Rónáin on Inis Mór wrote letters to newspaper editors in 1970, questioning why the Aran Islands couldn’t have an air service like that operating from many Scottish islands, a number of Galway businessmen responded to the challenge.

Among them were visionaries Jimmy Coen and Ralph Langan, who established a local airline, Aer Arann Islands – and on August 15, 1970 the first flight took place between Inis Mór and the Galway mainland, at Oranmore.

According to the Connacht Tribune archives, the inaugural flight of the twin-engine plane, which cost £40,000, carried ten people in all, including a number of Bórd Fáilte officials and tourism representatives.

“The weather was unkind and heavy mist and squally winds made for unpleasant conditions but nevertheless the inaugural flight went off according to schedule,” the Tribune newspaper report said at the time.

When they landed, they were greeted by members of Aran Islands Tourist Development Association at a new £20,000 airstrip at Killeaney.

That first commercial flight from Galway’s mainland to the Aran Islands will be commemorated this weekend, 50 years later.

From those humble beginnings, it’s a company that has faced turbulence during its five decades, not least in recent years when there was uncertainty over State supports (PSO, Public Service Obligation) for the service . . . but at its core has always been a sense of duty to serving islanders.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway among counties least hit by Covid

Dara Bradley

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Galway has so far suppressed the spread of Coronavirus this summer – with the latest figures showing the county is one of the least affected in the Republic of Ireland in the past fortnight.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population stands at just 3.1 in Galway in the last two weeks, compared with the national average of 18.42.

Three of the counties plunged into a partial lockdown again last Friday – Laois, Kildare and Offaly – had cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight of 86.19, 146.51 and 123.14 respectively.

The rate in Clare was 28.62, Mayo was 6.32, Roscommon was 1.55, and Tipperary was 1.25.

In the past week, Galway surpassed the 500-mark for confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic struck in March.

None of them are now in hospital, according to the data.

In the week to Sunday, there were a total of three new cases confirmed in Galway, bringing the running total to 501. The previous week, there a total of five new cases.

On Tuesday of this week, both of Galway’s two public hospitals, University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula, were Covid-free, and were not treating any patients in wards or in ICU who were confirmed as having Covid-19.

Get all the latest coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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