B.A.C.D’s submission to the Draft County Development Plan signalled the town’s ambition as one of the few Gateway Towns from the Hidden Heartlands to the Wild Atlantic Way and our requirements to become one of the few towns in the Hidden Heartlands to evolve into a destination Tourism Hub.
With the refurbishment of the principal streetscapes completed, major new investments such as the Greenway, OPW, Waterways Ireland and indeed Hidden Heartland and Bord na Mona in the rewetting of bogs means its timely to undertake a Feasibility Study to offer a best practice route map for the development of a formal Tourism and Heritage Plan 2022 – 2027 for our community.
BACD has received a welcome grant towards the facilitation and compilation of the study from GRD Leader.
Expressly the plan will:
It will also engage with the key private and voluntary stakeholders in Culture, Heritage and Tourism Trade as to what plans they have and what support is needed over the next 60 months, along with examining models of best practice and innovative co-ordination and marketing utilised by other communities and determine which may be best for town and hinterland.
The final report will suggest some key priority actions for short-term implementation.
Working Groups are being established in Leisure & Amenities, Hospitality & Trade, Heritage & Genealogy, Culture and Events to assist and it's hoped a first draft will be available in a few months time . Any ideas or suggestions please to firstname.lastname@example.org
Born in Ballinasloe in 1968 , Kevin, emigrated to London in 1989, he now lives in Surrey, with his wife and daughter. He works for the civil service. His parents – John and Nuala still live in Birchgrove.
It’s been just over a year since I was lucky enough to visit home. In February 2020 we had no idea what was to come, but here we are. I remember as we landed in Shannon, it being bitterly cold, as my old friend Dusty says “sure isn’t it 10 degrees colder here than it is in London!”In June of the previous year I had also made the journey home, on my own, to visit my parents, and to see how the town and surrounds had changed. There were some new additions on Main Street and work had begun on street enhancement. It was always good to be back, where the pace of life was healthier, and the stores have a choice of not just black, but also white pudding! A real fire and a bit of live music and I could not be happier, but things change and people move on, nothing stays the same.
Almost religiously, when I’m home, I pay a visit to Shannonbridge, the scene of many an energetic day and night during my teens. In the mid-eighties, with a new driving licence, and the keys to an old open-top Citroen Dyane, we would rendezvous at Stanton’s in Creagh and head east, through Culliagh and Cloonfad, past Coreen Woods and drive over the mighty river Shannon on a clattering wooden slatted bridge into the province of Leinster. It was pure escapism.
At the end of the Main Street, with the Blackwater Bog turf fed power station off to the right, stood J.J. Killeens pub, its unpretentious exterior giving no indication of the good times to be had inside. Now, visiting with my father, it looked and smelled exactly the same. He ordered a coffee and looked disapprovingly as I ordered an Arthur Guinness.
It was a place of two halves, in that it had two front entrances, one for the general store-cum-Aladdin’s Cave, and one for the bar. It was in the latter, under a huge black and white portrait of the actor George Brent, whose people hailed from nearby, that we used to sit and absorb this exotic atmosphere. We laughed, we drank, and we sang, along with equally excited Germans, French, Dutch and Americans, they were all there. They had come by cruiser, from Banagher, and beyond, in search of bream, rudd and tench that hide amongst the reeds of this mighty waterway. By day they would hear the corncrake crow from their bankside nests and wonder at the lushness of the grassland Callows.
The shop sold almost everything, fishing bait, Peterson Pipes, Ladies and Gents burial habits, groceries, and tobacco. On the counter stood the gleaming piece de resistance, the bacon slicer. It was entertainment on its own. Turf smoke drifted through from the bar and everybody, farmers and tourists alike, seemed affable.
The bar was dimly lit with hundreds of business cards and foreign currency from all over the world pinned above it. If you were lucky, Michael would take down a new puzzle and see if you could crack it, smiling away as you toiled to understand what is was used for.
I remember it being so busy that leaving your seat to go anywhere, meant squeezing and ducking past rows of porter, either settling, or being passed to thirsty patrons.
I don’t know if I preferred it more back then, than I did on my last visit, but it holds a special place for me, and while I know there will be lots of better stories about this little gem of a place, I wanted to share mine, before they slip away from me.
Local archaeologist's new heritage guide will help boost visitor interest in Ballinasloe's hidden past
“Declan Kelly`s latest book brings a welcome grounding and is a work of extraordinary historic significance
With much hope that the route to be chosen for the Athlone to Galway cycleway will favour Ballinasloe and so increase visitor numbers to the district, a new heritage guide is set to be launched at the end of this year which would perfectly complement that outcome.
Created by Creagh native and landscape archaeologist Declan Kelly, the guide is the fruit of more than 10 years of work and includes over 100 points of interest for visitors to the area. Though he has lived in Portumna for almost 10 years now, Declan has retained an abiding interest in his home town.
“Some of my first lessons in history were taken in Creagh cemetery” he says “from reading the inscriptions on the older headstones and then trying to find out what the stories were of the people buried there. Back in the 1980s you had to go to a library and seek out what information there was. Much of this research can now be done online”.
Painstaking research has gone into the stories behind those same memorials in Creagh and among the numerous features the guide highlights is the memorial to the family of William Bermingham Costello (1800-1867) who was a renowned surgeon in his day. One of the other interesting tombs mentioned is that of Thomas Cuffe who died in 1814 and whose hotel was reputedly visited on one occasion by Theobald Wolfe Tone. Declan believes him to have been a son of the famous ‘Sir’ Thomas Cuffe of Kilbeggan. “The annual Knighthood Festival in Kilbeggan is built about Cuffe”, says Declan, “He was an innkeeper who was knighted by Lord Townshend, the Viceroy of Ireland, while Townshend was three sheets in the wind with claret. When Townshend sobered up, he tried to withdraw the honour, but Cuffe protested because he said his wife was delighted at the prospect of being called Lady Mary”.
Filled with numerous photographs, the book is to be launched by Gerry Devlin with a foreword written by Cllr Dr Evelyn Parsons who is an enthusiastic supporter of local heritage. “In an everchanging world of cultural fusion, online influences and social isolation” said Cllr Dr Parsons, “Declan Kelly`s latest book brings a welcome grounding and is a work of extraordinary historic significance”.
‘Rediscovering Ballinasloe’ will be published locally and available in late 2021.
by Fergal Lenehan
Beagh / Birchgrove native - Fergal Lenehan is based at the University of Jena, Germany, where he is a full-time researcher at the project ‘ReDICo: Researching Digital Interculturality Co-operatively’, which is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.
.At the start of April 2021 President Michael D. Higgins’ book, Reclaiming the European Street: Speeches on Europe and the EU, 2016-2020, was published by Lilliput Press in Dublin.
How did a German-based Ballinasloe native (that’s me), who has never been to Áras an Uachtaráin, has never been actively involved in the Labour Party and has never actually managed to be in Ireland to vote during a presidential election, end up undertaking this task for the ninth Uachtarán na hÉireann?
There were, however, more than one name inscribed upon the cover. It also retained my name and that of my Limerick-based colleague as editors. So, what exactly does an academic editor do in an instance such as this? And, perhaps more to the point, how did a German-based Ballinasloe native (that’s me), who has never been to Áras an Uachtaráin, has never been actively involved in the Labour Party and has never actually managed to be in Ireland to vote during a presidential election, end up undertaking this task for the ninth Uachtarán na hÉireann?
I teach at the University of Jena and in 2019 President Higgins visited nearby Leipzig in an official capacity, where he gave an extended speech on the future of Europe. I was teaching a seminar on visions of Europe at the time, had included some essays by Michael D. Higgins in the course material, and it made sense for me, and my class, to go and see the man himself in action. Thus, on a sweltering hot July morning we crowded into a lecture theatre in Leipzig. Through contacts at the Irish Embassy in Berlin, I also organised for my class and I to meet the President for a few minutes afterwards. I told him we had studied some of his work and had come from Jena.
My colleague who also attended said I should send him my book Intellectuals and Europe (based on my PhD thesis), as the President would be interested in reading it. I slipped it into the post when back at work, and then forgot about it.
Sometime in September I received an E-Mail from one of the Irish president’s press people: He wanted to talk to me on the phone to discuss my book and was wondering if I was available that afternoon. Unfortunately I had missed the E-Mail. I was at home minding my daughter and hadn’t been checking my work mails. “That afternoon” was the day before. I e-mailed back and said that I was available now. Thus, President Higgins chatted to me, sitting in our German rental apartment, on the phone from Áras an Uachtaráin, while my daughter watched Paw Patrol on TV. His first question was to enquire how my daughter was feeling. We then talked about my book, Sociology and the research of the President’s son. He then, at some stage, asked if I would be interested in working with him on a volume of his European speeches as editor. I said I would and would ask my colleague Joachim Fischer from the University of Limerick to be co-editor. An academic editorship is always better in pairs.
So what does an academic editor do? Like literary and journalistic editors, they often make long stories short. They read texts critically and suggest changes. Unlike literary editors their names often appear on the books. Added to the language-bettering, text-shortening and book-structuring tasks, academic editors manage authors (there are, generally, more than one), decide what articles or chapters to use or not to use, come up with a book’s name and, most importantly, often write an introduction, which situates the volume within a wider research and intellectual context. So academic editors are usually authors too, of a kind. But Reclaiming the European Street is not just for academics; it’s for any discernible reader who wishes to engage with ideas about how society could be run differently, beyond present structures, with the reality of climate change and economic precariousness impinging increasingly upon our daily existence.
As an Irish person living abroad I can’t vote to elect the Head of State, as Ireland is one of the few remaining states not to allow any of their immigrants a vote. Usually “not contributing to society” is suggested as a reason for not consenting to this. I can’t vote for the Irish president, but I can edit and contextualise his book. Maybe, just maybe, this is also a small contribution to the future of Irish society.
by Renate Kohlmann
Grow Remote Local Chapter Develops
The local Chapter of national network of remote ( home or hub workers ) has had a busy few pandemic months and with some many folk being forced to rethink the commute and obligatory office attendance – new possibities are opening up – that the Chapter maybe able to help with Grow Remote has launched a free online mini-course available to anyone who would like to find a telecommuting role.
As a CLG (non-profit) organisation, focused on community development, The organisation’s return is when a person becomes employed and can live locally. Because of this, they can bring together everything needed to find work from home. Sign up now to their Learning Hub! Access the course through the landing page on their website
This course runs alongside the Monthly Jobs Club that is free for all to attend. The Jobs Club is based around a monthly meetup (via Zoom) to help people in the search for work possible at home. Register for Jobs Club events at their Ballinasloe Facebook Group. The next event takes place Thursday, April 13 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm -
In February the non-for profit partnered with Regional Skills West, Galway Executive Skillnet, iTag Skillnet, and Gréasán na Meán Skillnet to hold a Free Workshop ‘Remote West Works’ targeted at workers and managers of teams working online, to give practical advice on how to work more efficiently and deal with challenges in the current environment.
Dorothy Scarry of Workplace Health & Wellbeing spoke on Psychological Safety & Wellbeing and Renate Kohlmann of Grow Remote & RK Consulting helped with the facilitation.
In 2020, after Covid-19 forced so many people to work from home, GR ran the first survey about working virtually in Ballinasloe. A year later a revised survey has been launched. They are interested in receiving your feedback and would kindly ask as many people as possible to complete the short 3-minute survey. Results on the survey will be posted in future editions.
To complete the survey simply scan the QR code or follow the link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2HFK8TV
To join the chapter, join their Facebook Group or register into the Group in Changex from the Community Tab at www.growremote.ie or drop a note to Co -ordinator Renate Kohlmann, Contact: email@example.com
View our QR Code to access the survey
Ballinasloe Are Community Development Chair and Life Editior Colm Croffy were interviewed live on Galway Bay FM's Keith Finnegan .
Here's the audio clip which we quickly set to some static photos we had left over from our forthcoming magazine's salute to our closed hospitality folks.
In the next edition we will get around to doing a little focus on our hairdressers, non essential retail, barbers, service providers and others who have also been closed by regulations too.
“Ballinasloe Says No” have been objecting to applications to operate a waste transfer station in Poolboy over the past three years. They have urged members of the public to object to this new permit due to the environmental concerns they held because of its proximity to the River Suck. More than 2,300 people had objected online to the permit along with a further 600 making submissions through their local supermarket. Dr Vincent Parsons, Chairperson of the campaign along with Senator Aisling Dolan, PRO/Secretary of the group and Councillor Dr Evelyn Parsons, have held zoom meetings with locals in East Galway on the seriously worrying impact of this development on the health and safety of over 6,500 people in the town.
“It is adjacent to the old landfill which is in danger of being disturbed. Access is through the streets and residential areas. Trucks will pass by Portiuncula University Hospital and schools. School children will be competing with 30-tonne trucks. The site is near family homes and housing estates – many with young children. These waste facilities are associated with serious health hazards“ stated Dr. Vincent Parsons.
The passionate voluntary team have again been influential. Their creative volunteers put together videos to reach people through social media, organising leaflet drops with An Post as well as ads in newspapers and radio interviews. County Councillor Dr Evelyn Parsons, put forward a motion at Plenary Council that a deputation meet with the Minister for Environment and Climate Action, regarding issues surrounding waste developments operating in areas of high flood risk, heightened environmental sensitivities and close to residential areas which was seconded by Cllr Alistair McKinstry, Green Party, Chair of the Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategic Policy Committee at the Council.
Cllr McKinstry informed the group that the Green Party will be also lodging a submission on these important issues. “Chair of the SPC Cllr McKinstry, lodged a submission and Councillors in the Ballinasloe Municipal District also agreed to make a joint submission. Our residents’ health, quality of life, our environment and biodiversity in this special area need to be protected from environmental threats and we are working hard to ensure the best for the people in the area” noted Cllr. Parsons.
In a very unique move a joint Oireachtas submission had been sent to Galway County Council on January 15, by public representatives Deputy Claire Kerrane TD, Senator Eugene Murphy and Senator Aisling Dolan highlighting serious concerns they held about the application. Denis Naughten TD also independently provided his own objection.
This is an incredible number of submissions when we consider that we couldn’t meet people or speak face to face because of lockdown, and especially when people have so much worry and anxiety with Covid-19 as well as managing with home-schooling and working from home. It’s a stressful time and the worst crisis and still, people care about the future of our town and the impact on our health and safety with this proposed development” stated Senator Dolan.
“The community are coming together and making submissions talking about the pride in their town and vision for a safe and healthy future for the next generation, which is really, really important” explained the Senator.
Follow the group on Facebook below or on Instagram for updates.
It could be at least 10 weeks before a decision emerges.
Moving back to Marina Point, to a large 2,500 square foot premises – where they all began some 13 years ago, UTAH are opening a large new specialist premises over the coming weeks. Ireland’s newest fully fledged “ Regatta Store” with world leading outdoor and activity brands including the iconic Dare 2 B and CRAGHOPPERS – sister brands, is Val Colleran’s latest business expansion. “We have been tracking our customers’ needs and chosen lines for the past 2 years and there is a surge in demand for outdoor leisure wear of quality“, explains Val, when asked why open a new retail store during the third wave of a pandemic. “Covid has been cruel to retail, we know that however it also encouraged people to try and redirect shopping excursions to larger urban centres if they can access what the need locally or click and collect locally” he continues.
The new store will carry a vast and diverse range of outdoor leisure wear for Men, Women, Kids and footwear and boots for all. Indeed the store will remind some of us of Dublin’s famous Capel Street as it will also stock a range of camping, tents, hiking and outdoor activity equipment. The shop, along with the mother store on Society Street, will be managed by Val, but he sees employment numbers for UTAH growing from 8 to 12 in year one across both stores. Relocating and expanding his current outdoor section which has been a strong seller from Society St., frees up some new space that Val – (a retailer with some 30 years’ experience behind him) is going to launch “UTAH Kurve”, catering larger sizes for ladies. The store will open from 9.30 am to 6.00 Mon to Sat and will be able to manage reasonable numbers in comfort even up to level 3 restrictions. Equally for those who purchased UTAH Vouchers for gifts or for Christmas pressies – they will be fully redeemable in the new store for any line.
Val, who has worked in Penneys, before moving as Senior Sales Manager in Texas with their stores in Tullamore, Mullingar and Athlone, prior to opening UTAH Dept Store in 2008 also explained that lines will be available from the UTAH website but shortly will be available from a dedicated portal www.utahoutdoors.ie.
He is looking forward to the challenge of managing two outlets in town which wouldn’t be possible without the continued the support of his wife Kellie, and two children, Faolán, Eanna and his dedicated members of staff. “Things are looking up for UTAH. Between the Big Dig and Pandemic we have had, like most of retail in town, a truly horrible 11 months but we have been hugely encouraged by the loyalty of local shoppers and families from the surrounds who voted with their wallets and feet during December and especially on line“ enthuses Val. The store will open as soon as regulations permit.
After previous success for Roscommon Minors in 2017, the squad which included four proud members of our local Padraig Pearse’s Club recently were crowned Connacht Minor champions.
After battling in gale force wind conditions on St Stephens Day at the Connacht Centre of Excellence and after defeating a fancied Galway team in the semi-final, The Rossie's had to play a highly rated Sligo team in the final.
The local boys - Eoin Colleran, Luke Walshe, Caelun Keogh, Declan Kenny played the final during Storm Bella with the wind favouring Roscommon in the first half. Roscommon went into the second half leading by only 4 points and knew they needed a big performance to secure the cup. Against the storm, Roscommon was able to snatch the victory by three points with local Padraig Pearse’s Clubman, Creagh native and Roscommon Captain Eoin Colleran, lifting the winning cup.
In preparation for the campaign the team had been placed on a strict diet and fitness regimes and latest Covid-19 restrictions had meant that the team had to be split up and train in their separate pods. The boys knew what was ahead of them, and they were able to keep their head down and focus on the match with the belief that they could get the job done.
Speaking on the strict preparation for the match , Cornerback for the Squad Luke Walshe said: “It was very strict coming up to the match, we couldn’t eat what we wanted coming up to the match not even at Christmas, we were told to stick to our strict carb diet. Training was very strict we just focused on our drills and our tactics.”
Padraig Pearse's also had Caelum Keogh at full-back, and Declan Kenny on the panel on the day. Aaron Clogher is another local man who is the team’s Performance Analyst.
These boys have been training for this moment since they entered U6s and the hard work at underage coaching in Padraig Pearses is paying off with a strong county representation over several years.
Captain Eoin Colleran also spoke of the difficulties they faced and what motivated them to be able to power through and get the job done: “One of our players Mark Watson broke his ankle the week before the game, that was a tough one, and towards the start of the season with ten minutes before a game was to be played a referee passed away Morgan Keena. We did it for both for Morgan and Mark.”
Although the game was in the absence of family, friends, and supporters due to COVID Restrictions. They were able to dispatch Sligo to come out on top as champions.
Luke spoke of the highlights when he chuckled: “Definitely the goal, that was special.”
The Padraig Pearses boys had all come through Garbally College in a proud day for the school and the South Roscommon Club “Thanks to all of the manager and lads who we have trained with up from the age of six. Huge thanks to our club, our schools, our families and friends, all those who have supported us over the years helping us become better players and people. You truly are our sixteenth man on the field,” stated Captain Eoin Colleran at the presentation moment!
By Colm Croffy
It was the winter of 2010, the austerity years post the banking collapse were taking its toll. We had as a community a short 12 months before lived through the most devastating of floods; there was a genuine sense of despondency in the air.
Kelly's printing family MD (Brendan Kelly) – lifelong supporters of so many voluntary organisations in town, our Development Company founding Secretary (Colm Croffy) and BACD Chairman (Seamus Duffy) had a few chats over the festive season.
No one in the community could see at a glance outside of the Patricks Day Parade and the Fair that there was huge voluntary, sporting, charitable, educational work happening allied to a shook but loyal business community and a rich farming hinterland under our feet.
We were only looking at a quarterly newsletter 8 pages, dropped into the home via An Post. One of the key drivers to the BACD company - Noel Madden mentioned at an AGM that the wider community of town would never understand what BACD was trying to do unless it took its message outside the old gates of St Enda’s and into people’s minds and homes.
I started researching other communities, Gort had it’s Guaire, Tuam had it’s historical Annual but we had nothing. I had been previously engaged with the Connacht Tribune for a decade since Dermot Connolly (Ex NT) RIP passed as the local correspondent and that paper like so many others was changing from broadsheet to tabloid and staff reporters who could cover topics in depth were being let go.
With the bones of an idea we approached a few of the pillar firms in town – would they back the idea of a simple 32 page colour magazine – every 8 weeks with their advertising budget to become not a “MAGILL” or a “Village” type publication for our community but more like a “Cara“ the inflight magazine of Aer Lingus.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, we needed the Mothership of Development Company to be the nursery for the project. Resources to compile, research, co-ordinate the magazine would have to be found. Third level Trainees was the only route as the cost recovery project could not pay out any professional fees to contributors.
My projects office would be the engine room for content and creativity and my 20 years of communications across print, multi media and event would be put to use. The BACD manager’s office was the accounts and advertising office.
Seamus went with a trio of a team to the Board, it was backed enthusiastically from the start . The wily Board however added a fourth person to the Volunteers & Manager – Director Paul Hargadon. So it was four volunteers – who sold the ads, (Seamus was the Master Hustler!) and got the subscribers, the then Manager Helen Kelly who did the billing and accounts chasing and mise who co-ordinated content and contributors.
Distribution into all the letterboxes inside the old urban area was always done with voluntary drivers – Directors and members of the BACD Company and young second level students which in the last 10 years has predominately been Garbally TY Classes. Ken delivers to all the National Schools and key village stores to all our villages within our Common Bond radius and sometimes as far as Leixlip. We know from families and the Post Office that over 500 copies are posted to family overseas and around the country!
We were very lucky early on to secure the engagement and support of notable writers and historians of the locality who have given of their time and energy freely – Ken Kelly, Barry Lally, Pat Johnston, Sean Tully, Wille Tully, Damian Mac Con Uladh, to name a few and scores of other PROS and correspondents.
We have grown in reach and content from 32 pages and 3,000 copies to 64 pages and 6,500 copies every two months and have a valuable platform in showcasing all the many positive attributes of our town, hinterland and community. Advertising Manger Lyn Donnelly has grown our supporters list from to over 165.
We have produced over 600 community videos that illuminate our town on the World wide web – last year alone clips were viewed a massive 210,000 times. Any video/report we make gets viewed by an average of 3,500 people. We have over 6,600 facebook fans, we are tweeting and instagramming and finding ways to tell our positive story through social media which in time will develop into a full information channel of its own. Sinéad Colleran has revamped our Website - ballinasloe.ie – to where it links to our Ballinasloe LIfe articles and automatically ranks second highest in all Google searches for "Ballinasloe" (after Wikipedia)
Over the next few editions we will offer all of the main sports & cultural and community groups – starting with soccer to undertake a decade lookback on their developments and we will script some review pieces on the town and aspects within.
We would welcome any personal reflections or reminisces from our readers as well. Floods, Recessions, Elections, Tragedies and Pandemic Lockdowns have not stopped us printing our editions – lack of business support and community indifference might but thankfully to date there is not much evidence of that.
Here’s hoping to the next decade of growth.
If you have you any news - email us!