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Spending a penny costs Council Û75k on two toilets



Date Published: {J}


Galway County Council is paying a private company €75,000 a year to maintain two public toilets – which between them bring in just over €1,000 a year.

The Council charges 50c to use either of the two single unisex automated facilities, located in Vicar Street in Tuam and in the Fairgreen in Loughrea, and the revenue taken in for both toilets since they were installed in 2007 amounts to little over €5,000.

But the local authority has revealed that each facility costs €37,500 per annum to maintain. The self flushing units are cleaned on a daily basis and it’s ensured that they are always stocked with toilet paper and soap. It’s also estimated that a superloo can cost anything up to €100,000 to install, factoring in the initial cost of plumbing, sewerage and electrical services on top of the facility itself.

Councillor Bridie Willers who represents the Loughrea Electoral area, described the cost as ‘ludicrous’, and said it was time the Council revisited the contract.

“I will be making further inquiries about this. The income the facilities is generating is very small. It’s an absurd figure for maintenance; it makes no sense whatsoever, we have to go back to the drawing board here. You would imagine that if that contract was put out to tender again, there would be many local contractors who would snap it up and be prepared to do the work at a more reasonable rate,” she said.

But the Ardrahan based councillor acknowledged the individual units are extremely expensive to acquire.

“We had hoped that they would be partially self financing but that has obviously not been the case. There is absolutely no point closing them down for the money they cost to construct in the first place, but I would expect that the price to maintain them would be considerably less. We’re in straightened times and every penny that can be saved must be saved,” she said.

With regards to public conveniences in Galway city, the city council has also tendered out the maintenance work to a private company that is used by 90 local authorities around the country. The local authority is shelling out €137,000 for the maintence of eleven superloos at five different locations.

There are seven public toilets around Salthill with a number of units located in Blackrock, Ladies Beach and Palmers Rock and in the city there are facilities at the Millennium Park on University Road and in Eyre Square. There is a charge of 20 cent to use the amenities and on average they bring in around €16,000 per annum in revenue.


A City Council spokesperson said the superloos are an essential service that the council must provide to the public. He believed it was mostly tourists using the conveniences and that they would tend to be used a lot more during the summer, he also added that to provide a ‘good, clean, efficient service, it will cost you’.

The City Council’s ten year maintenance contract for the units expire this year and asked if he thought the above figure represented good value for the taxpayer, the city council spokesperson said the authority ‘always seeks to obtain good value for money’.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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