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US universities use Connemara for tourism programmes



Four American universities are now using a Connemara setting for an educational based tourism exchange programme and one of them completes its 41st year next Tuesday.

For the past four months 20 American students and two college professors have studied, worked and enjoyed life in Tullycross and its environs.

The students, aged from 19 to 22, are from the Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and this summer sees students from two more colleges, Maine Maritime College and Kirkwood in Iowa coming for a similar programme. And in September of next year, a fourth college, Lourdes, also in Michigan, will come to take part in a four month stint.

Organised by Connemara West Plc, which is the longest and most successful local development company in Ireland with over 30 years experience, it is dedicated to improving the economic, social and cultural quality of life of the local community of Letterfrack, Tullycross and the Renvyle peninsula.

Dr Kevin Heanue of Teagasc and chairman of Connemara West Plc explains that tourism has always been an important part of the Connemara economy.

The student exchange started before the formal establishment of Connemara West when in 1973, thanks to the connection between Letterfrack Furniture College and Grand Rapids, which was then the biggest furniture producer in the world. As efforts were made to get the local college recognised by the GMIT, a student exchange between it and Aquinas College came about.

The students initially stayed with host families but then stayed in the newly built Tullycross Cottages and each student was ‘adopted’ by a host family who had them to dinner once a week.

The demand for the programme increased and its success sees requests from other US colleges to take part in similar programmes.

Dr Heanue explained that the students study Irish literature, history and culture but also intern in a number of local employers like Connemara West PLC, the Connemara Local Radio, GMIT and Letterfrack Furniture College, Connemara National Park, Connemara Forum Development organisation and the local VEC.

“There are formal classes and they intern about one day a week and this is their forum to develop good relations with the local community and they also get credits in their colleges for taking part in this overseas study programme as well las their intern work,” he said.

Of course some of them have interacted better than others over the years and there have been about six or seven marriages out of this exchange programme!

“Majority of the US students who come on this programme are women and some of them did fall in love and indeed have settled down in the locality but a few have also returned to their US homes with a Connemara spouse!” he explained.

The Tullycross Holiday Homes are now occupied a good part of the year with these American students but in the height of the summer season they are available to holidaymakers.

Such is the success of this particular study programme that they held their own Gathering event at County Hall in Galway City last October, when some of the students returned for a visit.

Dr Heanue said that Connemara West would continue to pursue education based tourism strategies to complement its traditional tourism.

“In this way, the economic base of the region is being strengthened, the social and cultural life of residents improved, and the objectives of Connemara West Plc are being achieved,” he added.

Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area



A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


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