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Councillors decide to protect facade only of building



Councillors have unanimously agreed that an Art Deco-style building in the City’s ‘West’ only has architectural merit on the outside, as the interior has been used as a glorified warehouse for many years.

Three structures on William Street West were proposed to be included in the City Development Plan’s register of protected structures (RPS).

The one that attracted the most debate, however, was number 23, which houses Silke’s Cash & Carry.

Architect and historic building consultant, Cathal Crimmins, along with senior planner, Helen Coleman, cautioned City Council members against the trap of ‘façadism’, a practice that protects the exterior over the interior.

“We recognise that the interior is not of any significant value, but façadism is not something we promote,” Ms Coleman said.

“This Art Deco style from the 20th century is similar to Tribeton (formally McDonagh’s) on Merchant’s Road, which has a very active use, and the development of it hasn’t been restricted by its protective status.

“This building has a group value with neighbouring buildings. It is innovative, of architectural interest, international style, and a unique building for Galway.”

Similarly, Heritage Officer, Jim Higgins, said that this was a landmark site, and that it was not the intention of the Council to freeze the interior space, but said it had great potential to be developed in keeping with its historical value.

“To lose them would be to lose early architecture in Galway,” he said.

The appraisal at the conclusion of a report, circulated to members prior to the meeting, stated that it was an important building for the streetscape of William Street West.

Three submissions were received in relation to numbers 23, 24 and 25 William Street West.

Donald Silke objected to the first being included in the RPS, but said that he would support inclusion if it was just for the exterior only – the interior had no architectural merit, he said.

There were similar submissions from Don Silke in relation to 23-24 William Street West, and from Gary Silke in relation to number 25.

The response from the Council’s Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, was that there be no change to the draft plan, as the proposed addition to the RPS was recommended by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht.

However, Councillors were not inclined to agree, most being keenly aware that the interior had no merit in this regard – although some saw no value in the exterior either.

“When I was younger I’d shop there for fruit and vegetables – I can’t agree that the exterior has architectural merit,” said Cllr Colette Connolly.

“My concern would be that if it was not protected, would a developer demolish it and come out onto streetscape with something far worse, like those apartments beside it.”

Cllr Pearce Flannery said it was typical of horrible buildings of the time, and their ‘cowboy copies’.  “The original plan was that it was going to be a cinema,” he said.

“To put preservation order on the whole building will stop someone from upgrading it. The interior has no value, and people are going to back away and say that it is going to cost too much to develop.”

Cllr Frank Fahy had no love for the building either, describing it as being “like something dragged out of Soviet Russia”.

However, Cllr Niall McNeilis said that a lick of paint would improve the building immensely, and appealed to members to maintain this streetscape, located in a part of Galway City that had been brought back to life in recent years.

Cllr Billy Cameron said that ‘facadism’ was the right thing to do in this case, as only the exterior was worth saving.

“In a re-invigorated West area, that building could become an iconic one,” he said.

Director of Services, Joe O’Neill, advised members not to confuse the practice of preserving and protecting.

“There is no reason why a protected structure can’t be developed. This idea of places being frozen if ‘protected’ – there is no reality in that. The fact of the matter is that there has been no development there for a long time.”

Councillors unanimously agreed that only the façades of these three buildings would be included on the list of protected structures.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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