West on Track Welcomes inclusion of Mayo-Galway rail link in Capital Programme

February 19, 2018

West on Track welcomes the inclusion by the Government in the Capital Plan announced Phases 2 and 3 of the Western Rail Corridor linking Galway and Mayo, and its specific acknowledgement that the railway could play an important role in the Atlantic Economic Corridor and could increase passenger, tourist and commercial use.

We are confident that the independent review of the potential of the railway in the context of the Atlantic Economic Corridor will confirm the major contribution that the railway can make in terms of regional connectivity, linking Galway city with its natural hinterland in line with the National Planning Framework, as well as opening up the southern ports directly to freight traffic from the west, an essential requirement in the context of Brexit.

Linking Westport, Ballina, Castlebar, Claremorris and Tuam by rail to Galway would have an enormous impact. It would also enable direct rail travel to and from Limerick and Cork offering tourists proper access to the west and north-west for the first time.

Text in Capital Programme: ‘The Western Rail Corridor Phase 2 from Athenry to Tuam and Phase 3 to Claremorris could play an important part in the Atlantic Economic Corridor. The extension of the WRC could increase passenger, tourist and commercial use. In line with the Programme for Government an independent review will be undertaken immediately. If the findings are approved by Government the project will be prioritised during this plan.’


Kiltimagh Closures Suggest Loss of Banks Is A Killer Blow – Feb 2018

February 13, 2018

Towns in east and south Mayo are reporting mixed fortunes, with new businesses opening in Claremorris and Swinford, but with three closing in Kiltimagh.

The Paper Shop, which was in the centre of the town, shut its doors after years of serving the community, while Eden Flowers and Byrne’s Butchers also closed recently. The latter business shut its doors after the death of owner, Paddy Byrne.

Carroll’s Supermarket is the only grocery store left on Kiltimagh’s Main Street, with the Village News, Mulherin’s, and Gallagher’s, beside the local church all closed for a number of years. Supervalu is at the rear of the town.

But it’s a different tale in nearby Swinford, where Cllr Michael Smyth can list a plethora of new businesses, including a kitchen company, gym, accountants’ firm, and agricultural consultant.

“We’ve been lucky, because we have kept our banks. Kiltimagh and Charlestown have lost theirs and it has has an impact.” Claremorris pharmacist and chamber of commerce member, Jimmy Flynn, says the south Mayo town has not been as badly affected as others in the region.

“While we are still in the so-called storm, it has abated. At Christmas, people were more focused on leaving their money in the local town,” he said.

A number of businesses opened in Claremorris, before Christmas and another two are due to open shortly, with the town’s central location attracting people to live in the area to commute to jobs in Galway, Sligo, Castlebar, and Westport. Claremorris Chamber of Commerce is lobbying hard to have the Urban Renewal Scheme extended to towns like Claremorris, Ballinrobe, and Ballyhaunis, which would attract people to live in the town centres.

“The streets are ripe for regeneration, but it needs to be driven by local and central government,” said Mr Flynn. “There needs to be a concrete proposals to incentivise development, including tax breaks and a relaxing of the building regulations, introduced in 2011.”

by Marian Duggan – Western People

Growth of 22% on Galway – Limerick Rail Services in 2016

November 16, 2017

Patronage on the Galway Limerick Intercity rail line has soared 22% in 2016 pointing to annualized passenger numbers of 420,600.

The annual rail survey by the National Transport Authority finds that 1,402 people travelled Galway-Limerick on census day, 17 November 2016, an increase of 22% on 2015.

With rail passengers counted six days a week throughout the year, this would equate to 420,600 passengers in 2016. The Business Case for Galway-Limerick had projected 220,000 by 2020. In fact, patronage has almost doubled – fully three years earlier than projected. And while rail travel nationally is up 19% between 2012 and 2016, the increase for Galway-Limerick is 38%.

“Rail is enjoying a renaissance,” said a West on Track spokesman. “These figures confirm the findings of the Cicero report of 2015 and show this rail route is one of the fastest-growing links in the country. There is no justifiable reason for further delay in the reinstatement of train services between Galway and Mayo.”

Co. Mayo.
Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Galway County Council vote to Protect Rail Infrastructure – Oct 2017

October 3, 2017

Claremorris Chamber of Commerce welcomes the decision of the elected members of Galway County Council to protect and preserve the Western Rail Corridor for development as critical infrastructure.

This outcome is pivotal to the future development of the west.
Were the WRC to be ripped up for a greenway, it would be a most serious setback for the region at a time when an Atlantic Economic Corridor is being planned.

To develop the western region to its full potential, we need a spine of top quality infrastructure – including road, rail, broadband and electricity. The vote by Galway County Council is a vital part of ensuring that existing infrastructure is protected.
Here in Claremorris County Mayo, we have developed a 5 km greenway as a result of strong community effort and support from Mayo County Council. In fact, our town’s greenway is about to get a 3 km extension.
Most important of all, it goes nowhere near the town’s railway which proves that a greenway can be developed without tearing up transport infrastructure.

We would be delighted to share our experience in developing this greenway as we believe there is huge potential for Tuam and many other locations to develop a similar kind of amenity without interfering with the railway.

WRC crucial to future development of the West – by Seán Canney TD

August 21, 2017

Seán Canney TD has reiterated the importance of the Western Rail Corridor for the future development of the West of Ireland.
‘Phase 1 of the Western Rail Corridor has exceeded the projected level of use with 279,000 passengers using the Galway to Limerick line in 2015 as confirmed by Irish Rail. Phase 1 serves the towns between Galway and Limerick including Athenry, Craughwell, Ardrahan, Gort and Ennis.

‘There has been consistent misinformation about the performance of this line and I am dismayed to hear that elected public representatives from the Tuam Area are calling for the closure of this line. This is not helpful in the quest to increase investment in the West of Ireland
‘I have always advocated for the extension of the Western Rail Corridor north from Athenry to Tuam and Claremorris. This development would provide rail connectivity from Galway to Westport and Ballina, Galway to Limerick as well as the existing Galway to Dublin line. The opening of the Western Rail Corridor would provide direct rail freight access along the West to Foynes Port in Limerick and Waterford Port.
‘The Programme for Partnership Government recognises the importance of the railway to the future development of the West of Ireland as a counterbalance to overdevelopment in the greater Dublin region.
‘The Atlantic Economic Corridor is the platform to create balanced development and the Chambers of Commerce of Limerick, Shannon, Ennis, Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, Sligo and the American Chamber of Commerce support this drive for balanced development.
‘All political parties believe in the concept of the Atlantic Economic Corridor and they need to put this into operation in their utterances and they need to give clarity instead of playing politics.
‘The Western Rail Corridor is a vital component in the realisation of this vision. The re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor Phase 2 & 3 will revitalise towns in Galway such as Tuam, Milltown, Athenry, Ardrahan, Gort and Craughwell.
‘The fact that the NTA spent €270 million in projects between January 2015 and March 2017 in Dublin and spent €25,000 in the rest of the country demonstrates clearly the imbalance that continues to exist.
‘We need to unite and aspire to bigger investment for Tuam, Athenry, Loughrea and Gort. We should not be afraid to flight for more. We have got to stop putting ourselves down. Finally, we need to work together in the West to ensure we get infrastructure lead development for the entire region.
‘Since being first elected to Galway County Council I have always been passionate in my belief that Galway East is a great location to live, work and raise our families. I intend to continue to push for investment to allow Galway East to provide jobs for our children and grandchildren,’

By Sean Canney| August 21st, 2017|Athenry Area, Blog, Education, Farming, Flood Relief, Galway East, Gort Area, Health, Homepage, Housing, Information, Latest News, Launch Events, Loughrea Area, National, O P W, Portumna Area, Sporting, Tourism, Tuam Area

Mayo Towns Blaze A Trail In Development of Community Greenways

August 10, 2017

Mayo Towns are showing the way in the development of community greenways. Castlebar and Claremorris now have two excellent facilities which are being widely used by local communities and visitors.

The development of such Community Greenways is best facilitated by identifying attractive local areas of natural beauty such as lakes, woods or rivers which can be adapted for use, as in the case of Lough Lannagh in Castlebar or of Clare Lake in Claremorris, developed with the support of Mayo County Council.

Pictured: View of Clare Lake from Greenway

The Claremorris development is a state of the art community-developed Greenway, ‘Mac Mahon Park – Land of the Giants’, featuring a 5.5 Km walking and cycling loop including Clare Lake and a large forest area, which is also used for sporting events such as running and cycle races. A Claremorris ‘parkrun’ takes place every Saturday at 9:30am. (See Claremorris Park Run Website.)

A children’s feature ‘The Land of the Giants’ has been built into the forest section. The lakeside in a wooded setting features sculpture, seating, bridges, a gazebo and much wildlife, including ducks, geese and butterflies. Boating and fishing facilities are provided and a fully-equipped children’s playground has also been developed at the entrance. More than 2,000 people now use the facility every week. The latest addition is a multi-use gaming area with an astro-turf facility, basketball and goal posts.

Pictured: A fun scene at Mac Mahon Park

The project has been developed over time by a number of community groups with assistance from Mayo Co. Council. A further 2.5 Km is now to be added taking in another local lake, again with the support of the Co. Council.

While the park is located in the vicinity of the Mayo-Galway railway line there is NO interference of any kind with the rail infrastructure.

Pictured: Walking and Cycling trail at Claremorris Greenway

The Lough Lannnagh greenway at Castlebar is a 10km trail offering a pleasant mix of countryside, including fields, riverside woodlands, small sections of quiet country back roads and urban settings. The Greenway forms part of the National Cycle Network which is currently being developed throughout Ireland. This facility is designed for shared use for leisure walkers, joggers and cyclists.
Funding of €725,000 was made available from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport under the National Cycle Network Programme to develop the Greenway from Springfield, Castlebar to the National Museum and Mayo County Council also provided match funding to the same amount for the urban section of Greenway from Lough Lannagh – Springfield.
The route is mainly traffic-free and off- road with a solid surface, consisting of both tarred and compacted gravel. The Greenway was designed and developed by Mayo County Council by way of Permissive Access in partnership with 28 local landowners.

Pictured: Bridge to the Greenway at Lough Lannagh, Castlebar

These models offer an exciting template for similar towns seeking to develop community greenways, leaving important regional infrastructure such as railways protected for future development.

Pictured: Family stroll at Lough Lannagh Greenway.

Mayo Co. Council Cathaoirleach calls for restoration of Mayo-Galway rail link – Aug 2017

August 4, 2017


Pictured above: (L-R), Seán Canney TD, Cllr Richard Finn, Cathaoirleach, Mayo Co. Council and Cllr Michael Connolly, Chair of the Western Inter-County Rail committee.

The new Cathaoirleach of Mayo Co. Council, Cllr. Richard Finn, has reiterated his full support for the restoration of freight and passenger services on the western rail corridor, beginning with the restoration of the Mayo-Galway rail link and called for the rail infrastructure to be protected for that purpose.
Addressing a meeting of the Western Inter-County Rail committee in Claremorris, attended by councillors from across the region Cllr. Finn told members that the provision of key infrastructure was critical to the development of the west and north-west and key to any medium or long-term programme such as the Atlantic Economic Corridor plan.
“As well as targeted local investment we now also need to look at the big picture across the regions. Galway is our regional capital, yet the rail link from Mayo to Galway (and to Limerick, Cork and Waterford) remains unused. As a result, rail passenger services are being denied to the large numbers of people travelling daily between Galway and Mayo while rail freight services, which are a critical element of enterprise and job creation in County Mayo, are being denied direct access to the port of Waterford and to Foynes when it reopens. In the coming post-Brexit environment this link will be even more crucial allowing our exports to reach Europe directly without twice encountering the planned barriers in the UK.

Stressing the need for the protection of the railway for future development, Cllr. Finn said the continued disuse of the railway was not sustainable either from an environmental or economic perspective.

“It would be extremely unwise to allow this key infrastructure to be ripped up and replaced with a bicycle track or greenway when there are numerous other options available for such tracks. Members will note that Mayo Co. Council is actively protecting the railway in line with the County Development Plan and the Regional Planning Guidelines while at the same time developing an ambitious programme of greenways in areas of high visual amenity. This is the way forward and will ensure that we retain our railway while developing other tourist attractions,” he concluded.


Chambers welcome regional EU recognition as boost for AEC – July 2017

July 25, 2017

Chambers welcome regional EU recognition as boost for AEC

Andrew Carey – Limerick Post

THE work of the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) which includes Limerick and the Mid-West, will be boosted after the Northern and Western region of Ireland won the award to be one of the EU’s European Entrepreneurial Region for 2018.

That is according to the Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring TD said, “The European Entrepreneurial Region is a project that rewards EU regions which show outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policies, irrespective of their size or wealth.

“The announcement that the Northern and Western region of Ireland has won the award for 2018 is an exceptional achievement. Notwithstanding that it is a region which is geographically removed from the centre of Europe, the award demonstrates that in this modern era of global communications, geography is no barrier to entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and a “can-do” attitude.

Winning the European Entrepreneurial Region award for 2018 will also add impetus to the work which my Department is supporting to develop the concept of an Atlantic Economic Corridor as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development.”

The European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Award is an initiative of the EU’s Committee of the Regions. It identifies and rewards EU regions and cities with outstanding, future-oriented entrepreneurial strategies, regardless of their size, wealth or specific competences. The territories with the most credible, visible, forward-looking and promising political strategy are granted the label “European Entrepreneurial Region” for a specific year.

The Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) is a collaborative initiative, driven by business representatives and communities and supported by national and local government and State agencies. The Corridor stretches along the Western seaboard, from Kerry to Donegal.

The overarching objective of the AEC concept is to maximise the region’s assets and connect the economic hubs, clusters and catchments of the region to generate a value proposition of scale which will attract investment and support job creation and an improved quality of life for those who live in the region.

Both Limerick and Shannon Chamber have welcomed the win as it will further highlight the ongoing work of regional development and promotion.

Japanese Knotweed – Know your enemy! – July 2017

July 6, 2017

Japanese Knotweed is a non-native, invasive species that is rated among the 100 worst alien species in the world by the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP), and it is here in Claremorris!

Japanese Knotweed was first introduced into Ireland by the Victorians as an ornamental plant for their gardens but it has proven to be a very aggressive coloniser as here in Ireland it has none of the natural enemies that are present in its native habitat of Japan and Nothern China.

Due to its rigorous growth, Japanese Knotweed is becoming more common and is widely distributed across a variety of habitats in Ireland including roadsides, hedgerows, railways, riverbanks, lakes, water-courses and waste-grounds.

Japanes Knotweed spreads rapidly, growing up to 2 metres in one season with a root system underground that can stretch for 7 metres.

It has the ability to grow through cracks in asphalt/tarmac, concrete, stone walls and into drains causing significant damage.

If you have Japanese Knotweed in your garden or on your property it is best to leave it be as it thrives on disturbance.
For advice, information and assistance call 094 937 1830
or email: info@clarichmayo.com

From Claremorris, Mayo to Butte, Montana

June 12, 2017

Barnacarroll & Butte, Montana forever intertwined following joint Mine Disaster Centenary Commemorations.

A full congregation at the Church of our Lady, Barnacarroll, Claremorris assembled in solidarity to honour the heroic, yet tragic endeavours of Michael Conroy and Peter Sheridan in the Butte Speculator Granite Mine Disaster, one hundred years to the day on June 9th, when the tragedy occurred in Montana State, USA.

The special centenary celebration Mass celebrated by Fr. Martin O’Connor, attended by family, relatives and friends of the Conroy and Sheridan families also paid tribute to the 168 men that also died in the incident, many of which were Irish natives, deemed as the worst hard-rock disaster in US history.

Direct descendants of the Conroy and Sheridan families participated in the celebration as gift bearers and in reciting readings and prayers. Also during the ceremony, Fr. Martin blessed the Brass Plate, which replicated Michael Conroy’s headstone placed by US based relations at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Butte. This will be erected at Barnacarroll graveyard, a short distance from Michael’s birthplace.

At the homily, Antoinette Keane (Conroy) welcomed Michael’s and Peter Sheridan’s grandchildren who came over from England and Dundalk together with Michael’s grandnephews who travelled over from the United States especially for the occasion.

“100 years ago on this very day,” Antoinette began: “Michael Conroy died tragically while trying to rescue his fellow-workers in America’s worst mining disaster. The true courage of a person is its readiness for sacrifice in the service of others. Michael and Peter sacrificed themselves without thinking of the consequences. They displayed a great presence of mind in their spur of the moment decision to go into the shaft cage to rescue their colleagues, regardless of complete indifference or even liking towards them as individuals.”

“Courage has religious roots, there is a spiritual connection between courage, sacrifice, and love. Michael Conroy and Pete Sheridan, at a soul level, valued life enough to have the courage to save their co-workers. Their sacrifice is a model of courage; They saw the value of life,” she continued.

“Michael and Peter performed a brave act in the face of adversity. No doubt they were aware that their effort to save lives could fail. Michael and Peter failed in their attempt to save their co-workers, their heroic deed however lives on in our hearts and minds. They will never be forgotten. They are heroes forever and we salute them.”

Another relative Jarlath Sweeney, on behalf of the organisers, outlined how the initiative in arranging the centenary commemoration at Michaels’s home parish came to pass.

“The story began last Easter to when my cousin Ellen Stephens-O’Neill informed me of the heroic endeavors of Michael Conroy and Peter Sheridan in the Butte Speculator Granite Mountain Mine Disaster, 100 years ago today. The past number of weeks have been both fascinating and intriguing, yet tinged with sadness. With great support and help from Antoinette Keane and her husband TJ, along with many people involved with this evening’s commemoration, we have put together this fitting tribute to both Michael and Peter and all of the other native sons that lost their lives in this great tragedy,” he said.

“Michael Conroy’s sister Bridget Delia was married to my granduncle, Thomas Francis Sweeney. Thomas’ niece Rita Sweeney-Lasser, now resident in Florida along with Loretta Sweeney-Johnston and Geraldine Sweeney-Hughes placed the memorial stone in Michael Conroy’s unmarked grave in 2009 in his honour, at the Holy Cross Cemetery, which we have replicated in brass plate form. This will be placed inside the graveyard here at this Church. The “Loving Family” engraved on both is shared with togetherness on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Jarlath mentioned the collaboration with the local schools in the commemoration project: “I was keen to get the local Primary Schools involved to discover and learn about what happened 4,200 miles away in Butte, Montana, a century ago and the Irish connections, of which there are many. Special thanks to Tom Forde and Deirdre Heneghan and the pupils at Barnacarroll NS for producing the Mass Booklet and to Maire Ni Deinnide and Maire Ni Mhurchu and Rang a Tri agus Rang a Ceathair for their research work, which is on display at the Community Centre,” added Jarlath.

The commemoration ceremonies coincided with a number of events planned to mark the centenary of the Mine Disaster in Butte, Montana. At one occasion, the Mayo and Claremorris flags were carried in honour of one of their heroes, Michael Conroy. And the happenings in Claremorris did not go amiss either in Butte as The Montana Standard daily newspaper had a front page story entitled “Journey to honor heroic miners stretches from Ireland to Butte” featuring Antoinette and Jarlath efforts, written by Tracy Thornton. “The link between the village of Barnacarroll and the City of Butte will be forever intertwined. It seems that a Greater Power inspired us to take on this project. The timing of when the information arrived was certainly more than coincidental and we are more than pleased to be the messengers. Heartfelt thanks to everyone that came with us on this poignant journey.”

At the Gift’s Procession, among the items brought to the altar was a copy of the book ‘Fire & Brimstone”, which features Michael Conroy and Peter Sheridan’s heroism, together with a specially commissioned painting by Irish artist Stephen Madden called “No Greater Love than This”, presented by Jerry Sullivan, from Butte, a recent visitor to Claremorris.

A gathering of the clans’ function followed the Mass at the nearby Community Centre where relatives and friends had the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and take a look at the many display boards that traced the Conroy family tree and the history of the Granite Mountain Speculator Mine Disaster. Pat Keane from Claremorris Community Radio recorded family related stories, a collage of which will be broadcast at a later date.

Michael Conroy’s grandson, his namesake, Michael Edward Peter Conroy spoke on behalf his family members attending: “I am indeed honoured to be invited to join you all here to commemorate the death of my grandad and your local hero. His passing at 36, together with his colleague and good friend Peter Sheridan was ever so sad and the circumstances of their untimely deaths, distressing. However, I would just like to say on a positive note that had those men not sacrificed their lives trying to save others, many of us, including my sisters, my cousins and myself would not have been born and here with you tonight. We all really feel at home here in the company of our wonderful family and new-found friends. May Michael Conroy and Peter Rest in Peace”.

Anne Sheridan, on behalf of Peter Sheridan’s grandchildren present also commented: “We are so pleased to be present here for this special occasion as we have always known about the closeness and friendship of Peter and Michael and how they died together on the fateful night. Over the years we have tried to trace Michael’s home place and were delighted to receive the email about this event in Barnacarroll, two weeks ago. We are very grateful that Peter was thought of in the manner, which was beautiful and so fitting,” she said.

Reflecting on the special night of remembrance, Antoinette commented: “Last night’s commemorative event in Barnacarroll was a huge success. The Church was full, and there was a great feeling of peace and love there. The congregation was very touched by the story of their local hero Michael Conroy, and his work colleague Peter Sheridan. Fr. Martin O’Connor (Michael Conroy’s cousin) said a beautiful Mass, and paid moving tributes to Michael and Peter. He also included in the Mass, Peter Hastings from Drummin, Westport , John Brady also from Mayo, and the 168 men who lost their lives so tragically on the night of June 8/9, 1917.”

For further information please email jarlath@fleet.ie or atjkeane@eircom.net

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