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‘Fort Eyre’ developer plans rejuvenation of Shantalla Road



The developer of an historic Georgian House and spire tower in Shantalla now plans to bring back an adjacent derelict row of houses to their former glory.

Returning emigrant Michael Gibbons purchased Fort Eyre for €1.36m last year from liquidators. Tom McEvaddy of Nexus Homes had carried out the initial renovation of the three buildings in 2007, which involved converting the period house, the tower block and townhouses into 12 luxury apartments which were worth more than €5 million at the height of the property boom.

A native of the Westside, Michael overcame considerable tragedy to get involved in the building game. He was the sole survivor of a helicopter crash in Derrybrien in 2005. Pilot Damien Bergin and publican Mark Reilly both lost their lives in the accident.

Michael, who was 34 at the time, sustained head and other severe injuries in the crash. A subsequent court case was told he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and considerable guilt over surviving the accident. He was awarded over a million euro in damages.

He emigrated to the US, where he attended Columbia University to study psychology.

He returned to Galway last August after the purchase of Fort Eyre to upgrade the apartments and carry out an overhaul of the spire tower. He returned the grand old dame of Shantalla to its former glory by clearing the grounds after years hidden behind a high wall and tall trees.

In a brochure for rental of the apartments, local resident Ann Leydon said actress Siobhán McKenna grew up in the adjoining Hansberry House, which fronts onto Shantalla Road and is one of Galway City’s finest example of Georgian architecture.

The building was originally connected to the Eyre family of Eyre Square, who came to Galway from Wiltshire in the mid seventeen century.

Brothers Edward Hedges Eyre and Robert Hedges Eyre managed all the Eyre Estates in Eyre Square and Eyrecourt until Edward fled back to London leaving a trail of debt in his wake. Robert took over the estates and Fort Eyre was leased to his nephew Edward Eyre Maunsell, after whom Maunsells Road and Maunsells Park was named.

He inherited much of the portfolio on Robert’s death and a large portion of the land was put up for sale in 1852. The nuns are believed to have bought the property after that and used it for a convent and home for many years.

Boasting an original Victorian style tiled floor, the apartments have been developed very tastefully.

Following the success of the project – all apartments and the commercial premises are rented – the developer turned his attention to a row of houses backing onto his property, which had long been an eyesore for local residents.

Going back only two decades, the street was a bustling suburban centre, with a butcher, corner shop, bakery, fast food shop and video store. He purchased the houses from the Davoran family and this week lodged an application for the development of seven apartments on the site of numbers 56, 57 and 58 Shantalla Road.

A protected structure, number 58 is a two-storey, four bay terraced house, which can be accessed from Shantalla Road only. No trace of the original door survives and the roof has fallen in

“The restoration envisages replicating the important Georgian design elements, including the timber sash windows, paneled doors and the timber staircase. The style of the timber shutters and the timber sash windows may be used in replica production,” according to the archaeological consultant Anne Carey.

“It’s located in a very historic area, within a range of buildings that display some of the finest attributes of Georgian architecture in Galway … intervention at this stage could result in a sizable portion of the masonry and brick elements being incorporated into the restoration, which would be a good outcome for the building.

“Further disintegration may render even the structure of the building unsuitable for re-use and would result in the loss of further important Georgian fabric. Even in the absence of a programme of conservation, the protected status of the building will not permit its demolition and, if works are not carried out, it would remain a visually unsightly ruin into the future.”

Numbers 56 and 57 are both on the Galway City Council’s register of derelict buildings. The two limestone jostle stones at the front of No. 57 mean that the building is also a protected structure.

The adjoining No. 56 was previously used to accommodate James Davoren Butchers.

The roofs of both have fallen in, though a decent chimney still survives in No. 57.

The overall design involves building five apartments, two to each of the ground and first floors, with a fifth spread over both second floors. Two further apartments will be built in a newly constructed building at the rear of the site.

The developer plans to remove the existing shop front at No. 56 and replace it with two rectangular windows to match No. 57, which they say will be the reinstatement of the original style of fenestration.

Michael declined to be interviewed by the Galway City Tribune. It is understood that if planning permission is given, work will begin on the project by the end of the summer.

When it is completed, the entire block backing onto Fort Eyre will be one of the city’s most luxurious apartment complexes.

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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