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€10 million city museum is not fit for purpose



It may have won awards for its design and cost the taxpayer €10 million but Galway City Museum has been described as “highly problematical” and “far from ideal” for use as a museum nearly a decade after it opened.

The astonishing admission is contained in a draft strategic management plan for the building in the Spanish Arch where details of a €6.5m redevelopment have been outlined. The museum has applied to Fáilte Ireland to fund €4.6m of the total cost.

The plan states that although the building was designed specifically as a museum it is not fit for purpose.

“Its design is far from ideal for the display and conservation of archaeological and historical objects. In many respects, the building is highly problematical,” according to consultants.

“There are substantial areas of glazing making control of light and temperature difficult, and the original systems used to control the environment have proved inadequate.

“The staff team have made substantial efforts to mitigate these problems by treating the windows and monitoring and controlling the environment as effectively as they can . . . it cannot borrow important items and its storage system is inadequate and even dangerous.”

Its substandard environment was preventing exhibitions of international importance from reaching the city while national cultural institutions were not loaning artefacts.

Much of its collection had to be moved to offsite storage facilities after a major flood in the winter of 2014/2015. Of its five storage areas, just one has environmental control to ensure the conservation of valuable objects.

The cost of addressing the environmental deficiencies has been put at €360,000 with a further €200,000 estimate for fixing the storage areas.

The expansion application centres on a cultural hub which involves the refurbishment of Comerford House to tell Galway’s story and providing access to the top of the Spanish Arch, creating an iconic viewing point over Galway Bay, the Claddagh and the Corrib.

The plan involves developing a pedestrian bridge link between Comerford House and the museum which will be re-ordered to house “innovative technology and interpretive platforms”, while outside an all-weather public outdoor space will be created.

Four nearby cottages owned by the Council on Lower Merchants Road will be overhauled to accommodate craftspeople who will interact with visitors.

Cllr Padraig Conneely, chairperson of the economic development, enterprise support and culture strategic policy committee, said it was vitally important Fáilte Ireland now got on board with funding for this much-needed tourism flagship project.

“Fáilte Ireland has been lacking in financial support for Galway City over the years. I hope they come through with funding for this ambition plan which will greatly enhance the Spanish Arch, one of the most visited areas in the city and along the Wild Atlantic Way.”

A decision on whether the initial application with Fáilte Ireland will progress to the next stage will be handed down in early 2017.

Despite the shortcomings, the museum attracts more visitors than any other regional museum in Ireland – 174,000 last year. The strategic plan aims to more than double visitor numbers to 388,000 within five years.

The Galway City Museum opened in 2006 at a cost of €9.6m, with the Galway City Council investing €6.8m between construction and annual operating costs. Designed by the Office of Public Works team of Ciaran O’Connor and Ger Harvey, it won a Bank of Ireland Opus architectural award.

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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