Nearly 10 years after it’s formal closure St. Brigid’s Hospital Complex – a listed Monument and hallmark entry façade on the Eastern approaches to town continues to crumble under the apparent indifference of the State.
BACD approached the HSE and Dept of Health nearly 10 years ago and were crudely told it would no be parcelled off but would all go as a block site – provided the State agencies had no requirement for it.
A Full day Seminar on the Re - Imagining of St. Brigid’s under the Patronage of the then Minister Naughton was held in Summer 2018 with representatives of all the state agencies – a report was commissioned, agreed and circulated.
Various private buyers and consortia were met and many meetings were held with County Council, HSE, Dept of Health all agreeing in principle that they all wished the site to be developed.
Thirty six months after the Respite Hotel Group last met with the principals there has been frustratingly no progress and the private investors are both frustrated and puzzled as to why their proposals to buy and maintain the fabric of the iconic buildings and campus have met with such official indifference.
Cllr Dr. Eveyln Parsons is calling on the HSE to prioritize the appointment of a St Brigids Project Team to urgently move on development.
Cllr Parsons motion passed at a Regional Health Forum recently on St Brigids Hospital Campus“ to make the HSE prioritize the appointment of a St Brigid’s Project Team to formulate a Plan for the re-use, disposal and/or development of this state owned property including consideration of Multi-Agency Involvement and/or Public Private Partnerships taking cognizance of the cultural, visual, protected status and heritage sensitivities of some buildings and the central importance of St Brigid Hospital’s history and legacy in the psychiatric, medico-social and economic lives of people throughout the West of Ireland over the past two centuries. “ . She is also adamant that the HSE must now regularly report regularly to the forum on the disposal.
Breda Crehan Roche Community Healthcare West HSE, confirmed in reply to the motion that the HSE has been approached by a private developer, the Respite Hotel Group, with regards to its development and that the HSE themselves have no plans to re-use or develop it but are in the process of moving the Maintenance department off-site in the next few months. When the Estates department decamps from St Brigid’s Campus it will be listed for sale on the State Register following Dept of Public Expenditure and Refrom procedures.
This will open full possibilities of acquisition for development. Cllr Parsons called on the HSE for IDA to be consulted also with regard to acquiring lands to the east of the Taughmaconnell road for future Industrial use and expansion close to the existing IDA Business Park, which is separate to the main campus and derelict hospital buildings.
The Respite Hotel Group are a consortium which promotes the design and development of bespoke retirement, healthcare and wellness facilities . Directors Sean Ruane and Maureen Lynch of the stated: “Our Vision is to create a multi-purpose Campus focused on the health and wellness needs of older people, providing independent and assisted living accommodation as well as respite programs and services promoting positive mental health and well-being. Yet we continue to be frustrated with the lack of clarity and co-operation from the HSE.”
The group proposed a full redevelopment of the existing premises including a new Retirement Village, a Wellness Retreat Hotel, Housing for Dementia and Alzheimer patients, a hostel for visitors, and other amenities including a museum on the history of the complex, a café, pharmacy, a small shop, Chapel, Green Space for outdoor exercise and a Leisure Complex. The project which was provisionally due to be finished by 2028 , can’t even get to the starting blocks!
The town is awash with fresh concrete, as apart from the cranes over Porciuncula ; there are 314 housing units being built or in the pipeline this Autumn.
In 2021 the housing stock within a 8km radius of the town (Roscommon and Galway side of the Suck) was approximately 3,100 units – this is a near 10 % of an increase.
With a combined 20km catchment radius of Ballinasloe Urban/Rural and South Roscommon of near 22,000 people – it is anticipated from the national increase recorded by the CSO of 7.6% on census night and a whopping increase of 8.4% of Roscommon’s population, these figures are set to increase by 8 % - 1760 more persons living in the area since 2016.
Crownbell LTD is looking to develop 38 residential units in the existing Cuil Na Canalacht housing development. Crownbell LTD has also submitted a second application to build another six residential units on the same site.
The two developments comprise 20 three-bed, semi-detached houses, and 24 three-bed townhouses”. Crownbell LTD have also included landscaping works, associated car parking, connection to existing surface water, foul sewer and watermain as part of the application. A Natural Impact Assessment was also to be submitted with the application. Final decision is due from Galway County Council on the two planning applications in early August.
Permission for a new housing development consisting of eight homes has been granted. Brian and Breda Connolly are leading this development of a current residential plan in Bachelors Walk. The eight houses will be six four bed units and two larger units and will finish the estate.
An Bord Pleanála granted permission for 38 new houses with Carbon Sole LTD doing the building in Creagh. The application was granted in November 2021 after the original application was reduced from 47 houses to 38 houses. Carbon Sole also plan to build a playground for the children and a public green on the development.
The current access to the site is being replaced by a new junction onto the R466 Dublin Road. There was an appeal against the decision that there wouldn’t be enough facilities in the area for the extra houses. This appeal was rejected but one of the conditions required for Carbon Sole LTD is that they cannot sell any houses to an investment fund. Site clearance and groundwork preparation has begun.
Up to the left of the Tesco Store – between Beechlawn Heights and St. Brendan’s Terrace work is very advanced on 40 Social housing Units which begun in January of this year and further 167 units was granted permission by Board Pleanála in May of this year for this site.
The Part 8 Application process is underway for 15 units from Dooleys Corner down to the Mount which are being prioritised for Social housing of those in need of town centre access, with out cars.
The CSO average persons per dwelling figure is 2.75 so when all these builds are complete in the next 24 months or so – there could be close to 900 new residents living here locally.
It will certainly help those workers and families looking for housing which is in very short supply – with some 24 properties for sale on DAFT and just 2 to let !!
Padraig and Una Fahy celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their Organic Farm Enterprise in Beechlawn this Autumn. The reality though is that the Fahy Family have been tending this very same land for close to a 100 years.
Just a year after the state was founded Padraig Grandfather Pat Fahy and his wife Mary Ellen Goode bought the original farm. As well as running it as a mixed farm Pat was a master grower of vegetables. He was the Head Gardener in St. Brigid’s before handing over the post to the late Tom Quinn in 1958 (a man who was still winning prizes for his vegetables in Shows up and into his 90s).
Little wonder then that the tradition of setting seeds and thinning, continued to the third generation. Padraig is aware of even earlier efforts, “I can recall him telling us stories of the Suck Callows being used for Garden Fillers and seed potatoes being shipped to the markets of Dublin back to Famine times till the first world war”. “The Mackney area in Gaelic times was famous for Parsnip growing. There was also a tradition of cereal growing in the Beechlawn and Mackney areas with Bertie Walsh’s Mill”, explains Padraig.
After Padraig's education in Garbally College and a Humanities degree in Maynooth University in the mid-90s, like most 20 years olds of the time he decided to travel and see the world. “I was backpacking and WOOFING (working on farms and in social enterprises) around the world. I was in Ghandi’s house in India on St Patricks Day 1997, surrounded by like-minded people enjoying quality lives on subsistence farming when I had my EUREKA moment “he recalls.
On return to Ireland, he enrolled on a Teagasc course in Horticulture in Drumcollogher, Co Cork and this began his love affair with the production of quality organic food and farming.
His wife Una (Ni Bhroin) enters the story a year later formally in the Teagasc course but they did encounter each other during the famous Glen of Downs Protest in 1998. “I was always a keen networker and many of the people I met on my travels and in supporting sustainable and environmental issues are all still connected to green sector enterprise or lifestyles today. We still to this day learn a lot from each other as well as formally” he notes.
On qualification from his course Padraig secured a field office post in Co. Roscommon in 2000. Advising and supervising in a Community Garden and quickly found himself as a Horticultural teacher in Castlerea Community Prison 2001 – 2005. This secured his first few seasons of off farm income, critical to the establishment of a new enterprise in Beechlawn.
“2001 was my first year to plant on ½ acre of my late parents farm. The land was located just beside the cowsheds on the old farm. So, it was well manured land, and I planted my first crop of Potatoes. John Glynn was very helpful to us in the early days, and we would never have bought a tractor, delivery van or tunnel without the huge backing we received from our local Credit Union “, explains Padraig.
Both he and Una chuckle looking back at the memorable week of 2003 when their first tractor, the estate car for delivering the veg boxes and the apple of their eye – eldest daughter Meabh all arrived at the same time!!
For both entrepreneurs the move from their rented home in the Pines back to the Padraig family farm, a new eco build home and the arrival of children Roisin, Tomas and Teegan. This, combined with their first staff, would never have happened without the huge support of Padraig’s late parents Tom and Margret who massively helpful and encouraging to the couple.
In 2005/2006 they founded the Farmer's Markets Network in East Galway South Roscommon and were busy suppling 6 Markets locally on a weekly basis from 9 acres. Back then their core output was 20% wholesale and some 80% direct to customer, generating 20 tons of vegetable output per year.
With Leader support some 6 years in they were able to engage key technical experts who supported in the development of their business strategy. They also secured participation in Bord Bia Vantage programme in 2009. Teagasc have used the farm as a demonstration farm for good organic practice since 2008-2011 and 2020. They also won accolades with Supervalue under their “Local Organic Supplier Initiatives “more recently.
From one staff member in 2005, they now have a fulltime staff exceeding 20 working all year round. They manage 50 acres of farmland and deliver nearly 150 tons of organic vegetables to more than 100 whole sales operators – restaurants, shops, co -ops – with just 20 % of output in direct sales to customers! Currently they are one of Tesco’s Main Organic Supplier of Leek, Kale and Sprouts.
Looking around the couple are not resting on their laurels, “the time has flown , the pandemic was a challenge with labour, and with supplies but people were certainly more interested in locally grown food. We will consolidate and expand our current model. We might look into other areas of education, training here on the farm there are huge possibilities for courses on site for a variety of ages and backgrounds. This combined with alternative medicine or healthy lifestyles are areas we are looking forward to exploring”, states Una.
Location has been key for the enterprise “we have the mighty Esker free draining soils here, the PH is strong, we are at the crossroads of Ireland for distribution with easy Motorway access. We have a loyal and hardworking staff, and we have a hugely loyal local customer base “offers Padraig. With added support from the Department of Agriculture also who are now putting a big emphasis on organic production as part of EU policy for climate change. Biodiversity is a key factor in the importance of Organic Farming for the future.
To celebrate the 20th Anniversary the Farm is hosting an Autumn Harvest Fair from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm on Sat 10th of September - promising a nice open day for families to come and see some of the demonstrations, talks and walks. See their website https://beechlawnorganicfarm.ie/ for full programme details.
Ballinasloe Area Community Development (BACD) finally received planning permission to convert the Old Bank Chambers on Society Street into a Co-working and Remote Hub working space.
The proposal will see the 6,000 square foot premises being converted into state of the art remote working hubs catering for more than 40 people, including six hot desks, 16 offices (with capacity for between one and seven people), three meeting spaces, one meeting room, canteen and toilet and shower facilities within the three story building.
The design team which was appointed in quarter one of 2022 are currently finalising tender documentation with contractors to be sought over the coming weeks through the government tendering website www.etenders.gov.ie as per protocols set out in the funding received from the Just Transition Fund.
The works will include the installation of energy efficient lighting, heating, ventilation, installation on new internal and external doors and windows, internal partitions, floor and ceiling finishes, full furniture fit out and highspeed broadband installation.
Seamus Duffy, Chairman BA.C.D. stated “once the building is renovated it will offer flexible, high quality serviced office space for local entrepreneurs to co-work, to meet and to collaborate with each other and will offer remote workers (currently working from home or in other locations) a long-term solution. It will attract people into the town centre which will have a positive spin off for our town centre businesses”.
“This has been the result of hard work and prudent management of the last 20 years by successive boards of directors in managing all previous state grants for job creation and town development, through our charitable community development Company.” explains Seamus.
Seamus also stated there is already huge interest by local businesses, entrepreneurs, and remote workers, who have all formally expressed an interest to being located in this innovative space when it is operational in quarter two of 2023
BACD company manager Lyn Donnelly is currently managing the project in conjunction with the design team and all queries in relation to the project or the rental of the enterprise space can be directed to email@example.com or (090) 964 6516.
by Ballinasloe Life Facebook Team
The Ballinasloe Women’s Group and the Knitting and Crochet group are bringing some colour to the town this summer with their wonderful Yarnbombing around the town. We spoke to Carol Slevin, Patsi Grady and Abbie McGowan who discussed where the idea came the inspiration behind it from and the benefits of being a part of a group environment. Lovely work ladies!!
Countdown to the All Ireland Final where Joe Kelly Snr. takes us through a momentous bus journey of Ballinasloe natives who boarded from Ryan's Bar - driven by Ritchie Green to one of the famous Three In a Row All Ireland of the 60s.
The Supporters Store is open from 10.30 am to 5 pm daily beside Fletchers Electrical Store for all your Galway Colours!
The new Cathaoirleach of Ballinasloe Municipal Council, Cllr Dr Evelyn Parsons Independent was elected at the June AGM recently. She joined Galway County Council in July 2020, described this as a huge privilege to be elected to the role and an honour to be the first female Cathaoirleach of the Ballinasloe Municipal District Council.
"I thank my colleagues for their faith in me and am excited to represent the people of Ballinasloe Municipal District and county. I plan to progress the implementation of the County Development Plan and Local Area plan to improve Ballinasloe/ East Galway”. Stated Cllr. Evelyn.
She continues to acknowledge the huge contribution of the voluntary and community sector during the ongoing COVID pandemic and Ukrainian crisis and now with more needs emerging through the cost-of-living pressures. Among important issues in the coming year for the Chair are Health, Housing, Climate Action, Tourism & Investment
Cllr Parsons is also a member of the Regional Health Forum West, a member of the Special Policy Committee Biodiversity and Climate Action, and a member of the Galway County Public Art Management Group.
'When she joined the Council - the County Development Plan, and the Ballinasloe Local Area Plan Process plans were being formulated. These blueprints are crucial for funding applications, planning developments, and strategic objectives for the future of County Galway and Ballinasloe Town until 2028. She was pleased to have inserted into the plan a first-time recognition of the importance of Portiuncula University Hospital within the County.
She played a significant role in policy objectives for the remediation plan for Poolboy Landfill and adjacent lands, and other biodiversity projects. She plans to honour commitments which have been given to Ballinasloe and mentioned in the GCDP 2022-2028.
Due to the work that Accessibility Ballinasloe have been doing she is adamant that Ballinasloe has a niche tourism market for the differently abled. “I believe that we need to exploit the Suck River as an asset to promote tourism and I have started by requesting Galway County Council to apply for funding to progress a feasibility study on the development of an Accessible Swim and Water Recreational Area along the river in the heart of the town “, states Cllr Dr. Evelyn.
The wider tourism potential is massive there is the Aughrim Visitor Centre Battlefields, O'Kelly Trails, ecclesiastical abbeys, villages boglands and rural walks of East Galway such as Hymany Way, wonderful heritage groups and Agri-tourism, the progression of the Ballinasloe Greenway spur, Larry Reynolds and Dinny Delaney Festivals, newer festivals like Livestock, and a celebration of the unique cultural event which is the Ballinasloe Horse Fair.
The council full term only lasts until May 2024 but Cllr Parsons states she finds it shocking that Galway County Council is the worst funded council in the country.
''We are being failed by government in Galway County. In my opinion the funding gap which exists is grossly unfair. No one has been able to explain it to me in any satisfactory manner. I have raised this repeatedly in the Council at with national representatives”, she notes.
While she was on the Special Policy Committee for Biodiversity and Climate Action, she organised a meeting with the Office of Public Works and Minister Patrick O’Donovan to raise concerns about flooding, the impact it would have on communities, the risks with waste industries on biodiversity areas such as River Suck Flood Plains.
She also mentioned the risk of climate change and how the minor work on the Ballinasloe Flood relief scheme is still not near completion.
“I'm concerned about contaminated grounds and the effects of flooding and climate change. It’s important that GCC improve the plan for the Poolboy Landfill and give full control to the High Court Order. I’ve contacted national representatives looking for their support on these issues.'' said Cllr Parsons.
Cllr Parsons plans on making public representation on services such as Housing, Health and Active Travel projects, Domestic Violence, litter and environment issues, paths, and accessibility.
''I'm delighted to have been involved with committed groups and independent colleagues in attracting the largest capital funding of Sports Capital Grants ever to the Ballinasloe Area. I look forward to seeing Ballinasloe and East Galway area blossom in the coming years,'' said Cathaoirleach Parsons
Ballinasloe Parish Pastoral Council have welcomed Rev Charles Nyameh as the new Curate in Ballinasloe, Creagh and Kilclooney.
Fr Charles from the Diocese of Jalingo, Nigeria, has been in Ireland for some time now and was previously appointed to Loughrea as a curate in St Brendan’s Cathedral. As well as his role in the Ballinasloe Pastoral Area he will be the Diocesan Co-ordinator for the Pastoral Care of Immigrants. He enjoys playing soccer and comes with a reputation of being quick on the ball!
Seamus Mc Guinness, the Chairperson of the Ballinasloe Parish Pastoral Council stated: “We are delighted to welcome you to our town and parish and wish you every blessing and support from all in the town and surrounding areas.”
Fr Charles was one of six Clerical Appointments in the diocese recently and Bishop Michael Duignan added: “I wish to thank all those who have been so generous in taking up these new appointments, especially those who do so in addition to other responsibilities. I pray that with God’s help those taking on these new roles will provide us with wise and dedicated leadership. My hope is that together we will continue to forge a way forward that best responds to the pastoral needs of our Diocese at this time.”
The Ballinasloe Rugby Club’s conveyor belt of talent continues to produce players of great potential, with two of the club’s finest products nominated for some outstanding awards of late.
Matthew Devine capped a brilliant season, with the scrum half named Connacht Academy Player of the Year at the annual Connacht Rugby Awards Ball held recently, largely thanks to his terrific form for the Ireland Under-20s during their Grand Slam-winning Six Nations run. Devine played a key role in the under 20s winning all five of their games during the campaign as he wowed spectators and pundits alike with his excellent performances. Touching down four times throughout the tournament the award was due recognition for the hugely promising 20-year-olds form this season.
Aoibheann Reilly was also nominated for the WHOOP Women’s 15s Young Player of the Year at the Rugby Players Ireland awards. Having impressed for Blackrock College during the All-Ireland League season, Reilly earned her first cap for Ireland against Wales in their Six Nations opener. Reilly hasn’t looked back since and went on to be a shining light for the side during their campaign. Having now got the experience under her belt Aoibheann is now no doubt looking ahead to a long and successful career in the green jersey.
Ballinasloe Rugby club are holding an 8-week programme to encourage girls from the 8-14 to take up rugby in association with Irish rugby called “Give it a try”.
The course is designed to teach all the basic skills required for rugby through rugby based games and drills, they will be slowly built up to be able to participate in games by the end of the programme and participate in a regional blitz against other GIAT clubs.
Ballinasloe was one of the founding clubs to encourage girls into the game setting up both minis and youth girls teams. They currently have girls teams at u10 to u18’s level and have produced many representatives on both the Connacht team and now the Irish national team.
If you’d like to follow in these ladies footsteps or just have some fun and meet some new friends the course will be running until June 26, at 10am every Sunday at the clubs pitch, the cost is €10 per person which includes a free t shirt. You can register on the following link www.sportsmanager.ie/registration/event-registration
The club’s u16 girls team triumphed in the Connacht U16 Plate Final against Claremorris recently. There was some outstanding skill on display from both teams and it was an extremely close encounter with Claremorris leading by the narrowest of margins towards the end. The Ballinasloe girls never gave up and showed what a skilful and talented side they are and with the last kick of the game they came from behind to win 29–26 making it a fantastic end to the season for the team.
The Battle of Aughrim Visitor Centre is re-opening for the summer months and are eagerly anticipating the return of visitors after the last two years.
Since the centre last opened its doors significant refurbishment has been carried out by Galway County Council. A redesigned layout, improved information boards, and dozens of new props and displays will be available to visitors to view until September.
A new Education Zone has been created which is specifically aimed at school children. School visits will also be able to avail of the new activity pack which was produced by Dr Padraig Lenihan of NUIG. There is also a scenario game produced by Dr. Lenihan and Michael Riddell which allows visitors to act as a general and command soldiers on a map of the battlefield.
Visitors will now be able to see what a soldier in 1691 would have carried in his pack, see a surgeon's kit in all its gory detail, and admire the new sets, costumes, and props from the era.
This year’s marquee event for the centre will be Heritage Week which will take place in August. Many special events are being planned including a Walk About and Talk About with local group Cath Eachroma 1691. The group also produced a short photo booklet last year titled "Where Musket Balls Are Buried" which allows readers a birds eye view of the battlefield, along with detailed information about key sites. The booklets are available in Valerie's and Burke's shop in Aughrim village, or by messaging the group on either Facebook or Twitter.
A new app has been produced that allows people to get a virtually guided walking tour of the Aughrim battlefield. “Aughrim Tours Galway” was produced for the Aughrim Community Development Company. The app contains two tours. The first around the Aughrim Battle Site and introduces the armies and strategies that were deployed in the Battle. The second tour centres around the Village it’s unique history and many colourful characters.
The free app is designed so that a virtual tour guide will follow you on your journey and plays audio messages at each historical landmark throughout .The tour lasts approximately 2 and a half hours and gives you a great insight into one of the bloodiest battles in Irish History. The app is available to download for free on all Android devices through the Google Play Store.
Seasonal opening of the Centre is from end of May to 4th September with opening times from:
Schools tours, groups, special interest & educational tours are all welcome and enquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep an eye on their social media for updates, and information on tours of the battlefield can be obtained by messaging either Facebook or Twitter @1691Aughrim.
If you have you any news - email us!