From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Connaught Telegraph 28 April 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
1, May 2004 - 12:07

Motorist commended for reporting driver who passed out six cars on hard shoulder

A district court judge has said a witness in a case of driving without reasonable consideration should be complimented on his civic duty. Mr Paul Tierney gave evidence in the case against John Casserly, Cloondace, Knock, and said he followed the defendant after he undertook five or six cars on the hard shoulder near Turlough on the N5 between Castlebar and Ballyvary on July 4th last.

There’s a great description of how the driver in question indicated that he was going to overtake on the right but suddenly changed his mind and sped past a line of cars on the inside along the hard shoulder! Bright spark. And with an address in Knock he probably couldn’t plead the – I’m a tourist used to driving on the other side of the road – excuse.

Mall building sold to bank

THE FORMER residence of the late Dr. Dermot Ryan, the Mall, Castlebar, has been sold for a sum in the region of 1.2m euro. The dwelling, which was the birthplace of the world-renowned prima-donna, Margaret Burke-Sheridan, was purchased by the Bank of Scotland. A member of Mayo County Council, Councillor Johnny Mee, called on the new owners to name the property after Margaret Burke-Sheridan.

McHale Road to become cul-de-sac

ONE OF Mayo’s longest thoroughfares is to be made a cul-de-sac. Residents of McHale Road in Castlebar have given a resounding endorsement to a proposal to make the street one-way to traffic. Eighty-nine per cent of householders said they were in favour of closing the road to vehicles at the former Bacon Factory end for a six-month trial period. Mr. Kevin Guthrie, a resident who is running for Fine Gael in the Castlebar Town Council election, said it was a welcome development following the completion of major works at the location over the past number of months. Members of the Castlebar Area Committee of Mayo County Council have praised the residents for their patience during the course of works.

Plus ca change and all that – a bank on the Mall again next to the newly dekked out Court House. The tax building/nursing home was once the Bank of Ireland. Making McHale road into a cul-de-sac will undoubtedly make a great difference to the people living there. Of course it has been a cul-de-sac for the past age in any case with all the road works going on. It will mean the end of a rat run - you will no longer be able to nip down McHale Road to circumvent the long queue that builds up between Moneen and Spencer Street roundabouts at peak times. It was much quicker to drive down McHale Road and because it’s a lot easier to get through the roundabout at Spencer Park coming from the Station Road direction it meant that you could cut at least 2 minutes off the journey! Ah! such nostalgia for a rat run no longer available.

Concerted move to provide local teenagers with ‘a place of their own’

A concerted effort is being made to establish a much-needed recreational centre for the teenage population of Castlebar. Behind the initiative is the newly-formed open Space Committee which is representative of a number of organisations including the Western Health Board, Mayo Vocational Education Committee, Garda Siochana, Foroige, Castlebar Parish Council and Mayo County Development Board. The committee carried out a questionnaire survey at local secondary schools in the town to which 103 students responded. The results of the survey indicated that 90 per cent of young people questioned fell there is not enough for them to do in Castlebar. 100 per cent of young people described the need for a place to hang out, meet friends and relax, a place that did not cost them financially. The main reason for such a centre, as identified by the respondents was to facilitate safe socialising with their peers.

The case outlined in the Connaught is also supported by the Gardai’s juvenile liaison officer, who stated that 61 per cent of cases referred to him are alcohol or public disorder related. Garda Fahy supported a youth centre as an alternative to drinking at Lough Lannagh. The gist of the submission seemed to be that the Gardai would shut down the lakeside drinking if there was a viable alternative location for kids to socialise.

But I’m wondering if the ‘powers that be’ understand the psychology of the ‘youf’ involved here? Just remembering back to my own ‘youf’, the last place I would be seen dead in was a ‘youf’ centre set up to keep me off the street. It would have been the most uncool place imaginable. You would not be seen dead there if you wanted to have any street cred with your contemporaries.

A significant amount of thought has to go into making this idea work. Building a building is not enough – it has to be activity-centred, has to be made ‘cool’ or whatever the equivalent term is today if it is any chance of succeeding in reducing teenage drinking and anti-social behaviour in Castlebar.

How to do that? I don’t know. But I suspect that a group of middle-aged councillors backed up by a survey that asked teenagers some loaded questions will have difficulty in providing the required degree of coolness in a ‘youf’ centre. They may be able to attract the ‘middle class’ sensible kids who attend school regularly, fill out survey forms when told to, and who generally don’t drink cider at night on the shores of Lough Lannagh or get into trouble. So how to attract the ones that you want to keep out of trouble

Two suggestions - that could easily be combined –

1. A skatepark has been suggested time and time again by contributors to the Castlebar bulletin board, presumably teenagers. So why not start with a skatepark and a nearby convenient hang-out building associated with the skaters that’s kitted out a la mode with an online presence and coffee and tea on tap and soft drinks machines?

2. The other thing regularly requested is a Band Practice Centre – i.e. somewhere where drumming and loud guitars won’t drive their neighbours crazy and suitably wired for sound with built in amplifier and speakers. If this area could double up for concerts so much the better as Shortts seems to be a bit crowded and of course serves the dreaded alcohol and annoys the hell out of the neighbours along Spencer Street. Why not set up a permanent band stand on the MArket Square for regular performances once the bands have had some practice in their band centre?

If you want to make sure that no self-respecting teenager will ever go anywhere near whatever is finally built - call it one the following: 'Castlebar Parish Youth Centre', 'Castlebar Town Council Recreational Youth Centre', 'The Pioneer Anti-Drink Centre for Catholic Youth', 'Castlebar Youth Facility', 'The Margaret Burke Sheridan Memorial Youth Centre' nor even the 'Frank Durcan Retirement Memorial Youth Centre'….. you get the idea? The 'Fighting Fitzgerald Youf Centre' might have some chance but I think historical figures are not a good choice generally. My tuppence worth - for passing on to Messrs Crowley and Gavin who have young children themselves. (And if anyone mentions insurance I'll scream).

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