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Connacht Tribune

Weekend weather sorts drought but not drinking supplies



A heavier than expected pulse of rain that hit the West last weekend eased some of the drought and growth problems on farms – but it had little or no impact on dwindling water supplies.

The Met Éireann weather station in Athenry recorded its heaviest day of rainfall in over two months on Sunday last when 16.5mms or 0.65 inches of precipitation fell over a 24-hour period.

The cumulative rainfall total for last Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the Athenry station was 22.9mms (close to an inch) and almost as much as we got for the entire month of June (25.2mms.)

However, Irish Water warned this week that it would take ‘sustained rainfall over many weeks’ to replenish raw water levels in rivers, lakes, ground sources and in reservoirs.

The water crisis is getting more serious by the day for the Aran Islands with Irish Water warning last weekend that their volume of stored rainfall would only last for just over another two weeks.

“Demand for treated water on Inishmore is extremely high at 580 cubic metres per day and there is only enough volume of stored water on the island to supply for 17 days. The boreholes that supplement supply are now in danger of being exhausted,” Irish Water state.

If the drought continues, Irish Water warn that afternoon restrictions of supply are ‘likely to be introduced’ on Irishmore and Inisheer on top of the current night-time restrictions that apply – 8pm to 8am daily.

“Water usage on Inishmore has increased in the past 28 days [now in the peak of the Summer tourist season], although leak repairs have gone some way to reduce the level of increase in demand. Reservoir levels are giving cause for very serious concern,” say Irish Water.

Kate Gannon, Corporate Affairs Manager with Irish Water, said that the appeal to conserve water applied to every household and outlet across the country.

“We know for example that the vast majority of people are supporting the hosepipe ban but we do have reports of people being in contravention of it.

“We again appeal to those people to comply with these essential minimum measures to safeguard our water supplies,” she said.

Most weather recording outlets across the county last weekend reported on higher than predicted levels of rainfall and especially so on Sunday.

While Athenry recorded the heaviest rainfall of nearly all the West of Ireland stations there were also significant falls in Galway city (18.6mms.), Mount Dillon, Roscommon (17.5mms.) and Claremorris (10.3mms.) Weekend rainfall at Mace Head in South Connemara was relatively low at 9mms.

Abbeyknockmoy weather recorder, Brendan Geraghty, told the Connacht Tribune that over the course of last Saturday and Sunday his rainfall reading came in at 0.53 inches (13.5mms), which he said was ‘significant’ in terms of grass growth.

“I suppose the really good thing about the rainfall over the weekend was that it didn’t fall in one heavy downpour which would led to a lot of run-off.

“It came in the form of fairly persistent light rain or drizzle over a period of time which the ground was able to absorb gradually. It certainly was a big help for growth and was very, very welcome,” said Brendan Geraghty.

However, he did point out that the weekend’s rainfall would have absolutely no impact on river water levels as all of it would be absorbed into the soil.

As for the coming week, there seems to be general agreement among all the main forecasters that there will be very little by way of notable rainfall over the 6/7 days.

The only long-term prediction of any worthwhile rainfall is from the (Norwegian) forecast who have guided Friday, July 27, as a day when rainfall amounts could exceed 10mms.

The BBC’s ‘month ahead’ outlook does offer some hope of respite from the drought conditions for more western areas of the UK and Ireland, as the high pressure shifts ever so slowly to the East, over the first two weeks of August.

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Connacht Tribune

‘Give even one big GAA game to Ballinasloe’



It’s the most centrally located ground in the country but Ballinasloe’s Duggan Park won’t host a single inter-county match this year – much to the annoyance of one local councillor who wants the GAA to allocate at least one big game to the venue.

Cllr Michael Connolly told a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that the ground is entitled to host major football and hurling fixtures – even though all but one of the Galway footballers’ home league games are assigned to Pearse Stadium with the other one in Tuam.

“If they gave us one match in Duggan Park, it would be something,” he said. “But at the moment, it seems as if it is being ignored.”

The Moylough councillor described it as the most accessible ground in the country and a venue in which players and supporters like to travel to – unlike, he suggested, Pearse Stadium.

He said that it was “a hateful venue” and few GAA supporters relished the prospect of travelling to the “far side of the city” to watch a football or hurling match.

A recent meeting in Gullane’s Hotel to discuss Duggan Park was attended by Deputy Denis Naughton, Senator Aisling Dolan, Cllr Evelyn Parsons and Cllr Declan Kelly among others.

But the Duggan Park Committee then issued a statement saying that the ground is owned by Galway GAA and any use of the facility needed to be authorised – and no authorisation was given to the meeting organiser, former Mayor of Ballinasloe Joe Kelly, for this purpose.

Mr Kelly has been a staunch campaigner for the redevelopment of Duggan Park and has called on the local authority to row in behind this initiative.

They went on to say that there is a plan in place for the development of Duggan Park which is multiple staged which started with the new dressing rooms, flood lights and a new entrance to the venue.

Planning permission is in place for this development and that €500,000 has already been spent in the Duggan Park over the past number of years carrying out these projects.

The work in the ground, they say, is done to an excellent standard by local contractors with the support of the previous Town Council for grants and sports capital grants.

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Connacht Tribune

Former tourism magnet officially on register of derelict sites



The fire-ravaged hotel that was once one of the most popular in the county is now officially considered a derelict site – and that has led a local councillor to call for it to be either redeveloped or levelled.

Portumna’s Shannon Oaks Hotel, for so long popular with anglers and golfers in particular, has been boarded up for more than a decade since it was destroyed by fire.

Local councillor, Jimmy McClearn, has called on the owners to reopen or sell the property – adding that it should either be levelled or redeveloped.

“We are a tourist town and we need a hotel. The last thing we want is for a hotel to be shut up,” he said.

“It is a fine facility and on an extensive site so there is no reason why it should be boarded up,” he added.

The Shannon Oaks saga has gone on for the past twelve years – but now the owners, the multi-millionaire Comer brothers, will be forced to pay a derelict site levy if they do not reopen or redevelop.

That amounts to a seven per cent levy based on the market value of the property, which is worth around €1 million even in its derelict state.

The Shannon Oaks was ravaged by fire in September 2011 and four years later, the site was acquired by the Comer Group who, at the time, gave an undertaking that it would be reopened.

Around two years ago, planning permission was granted by Galway County Council to Barry Comer of the Comer Group to renovate the hotel by providing 60 new bedrooms along with 40 apartments to the rear of the structure.

However, there has been little or no movement on the site since then and now the owners are being again asked to give some indication as to when the hotel will be rebuilt.

It is considered an integral part of the tourism industry for the town and that is why pressure is mounting on the owners to rebuild the hotel.

Cllr McClearn said that all he is asking for is the owners to develop the site and provide a hotel there. “It’s not much to ask in a tourist town,” he added.

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Connacht Tribune

More than €200,000 worth of cannabis seized in East Galway



More than €200,000 worth of cannabis was seized in during two separate search operations in East Galway on Saturday.

Gardai from the Divisional Drugs Unit conducted a search at a residence in Aughrim and seized cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €146,000 and €20,000 worth of cannabis herb which will now be sent for analysis.

Two men (both in their 30s) were arrested at the scene in connection with the investigation and are currently detained at Galway Garda station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996.  Both men remain in custody.

A separate search was carried out at a residence in Ballinasloe yesterday afternoon and cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €35,000 was seized. Cannabis jellies and €7,510 in cash were also seized.

A man in his 40s was arrested and later released without charge and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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