Mayor of Hoechstadt to join walkers
THE MAYOR of Hoechstadt, Castlebar’s twin town in Bavaria, is to participate in the 37th Castlebar International Four Days Walks which gets underway this evening (Wednesday) with a ‘gathering of the nations’ at New Antrim Street at 7.30p.m. Mr. Gerald Brehm, who is a frequent visitor to Mayo, will sample the unique atmosphere of the festival for the first time. Second level students from Hoechstadt are also taking part in the event as they are in town as guests of Davitt College. Over 1,300 visitors are expected in Castlebar for the event which provides a significant mid-Summer boost to the local economy.
The Walks turn Castlebar into a colourful multinational town for a week or so every July. The festival has been going on for yonks now – this is the 37th year. Every year for 38 years apart from the foot and mouth year when it was cancelled. The cancellation was inevitable given the climate in the early part of the year but as it turned out it the all clear was given before July. Anyway it is in full swing this year and there is a great buzz all over the town as a result. Weather has been a bit showery but then we don’t want to have people thinking that the west of Ireland is not a challenging place on the weather front. Lots of weather fronts coming in over the past week or so after that really long dry spell which left the ground as hard as rock and farmers complaining on TG4 that they badly needed some uisce to fall from the sky quick.
The bit that puzzled me though was the report that the multinational parade was cancelled because of an ‘international flag’. Now what could that mean? An international flag – some communists that wanted to fly the red flag and sing the Internationale? ‘So come brothers and sisters, For the struggle carries on, The Internationale’? Or is the Union Jack an international flag? Surely not.
Locals dig in over Islandeady quarry
PLANS by Roadstone for a major quarry at Islandeady, Castlebar are being opposed by five local residents for environmental and traffic reasons. The objectors claim the 38.88 hectare quarry at Ballynamurroge/Cloonkeen would cause increased levels of dust and noise in the area; greater traffic; damage wildlife; and affect property values. The residents - Francis J. Quinn, Aileen J. Quinn; Michael Tiernan, Annette Kiernan and Margaret O’Connor also say they are concerned about the visual impact of a proposed bridge across adjacent Dublin to Westport rail link. Roadstone Provinces Limited of Saggart, Co. Dublin want to develop a quarry to exploit the significant limestone deposits at Islandeady over the next fifty years. The company says the facility, which would employ in the region of 30 people, is needed to replace their existing quarry at Moneen, Castlebar which is "reaching the end of its extractive life".
Quarries must surely be one of the most contentious environmental problems today. We all want roads and it's the county councils themselves who are the biggest customers for quarries. Planning permission causes huge problems. Of course many of them don’t even need planning permission because they predate the 1963 local government act cutoff date for planning permission. So can they do what they want more or less with impunity as a result? Here in Castlebar even sitting at your desk in a building in the middle of town you can feel the blasts at Moneen. They occur usually at about 4:40 on a Friday afternoon – a mini earthquake that we only notice subconsciously as we are so used to it – ‘Ah it’s nearly time to wrap up and go home for the weekend’. But put yourself within 100 yards of a blast standing on solid rock and you get a feel for what those living near a quarry have to put up with. And that’s before the noise of grinding stone clattering away all day and the dust that permeates everywhere and the discharges to the nearest stream of cloudy ground up limestone dust. The recent Prime Time programme on planning matters associated with quarries was a bit of an eye opener so my sympathies are with the residents on this one.
Aer Arann goes Merseyside as new Knock Liverpool service commences
AER ARANN, Ireland’s premier regional airline, commenced its new service from Knock Airport to Liverpool Airport on Monday. The new service, which will operate Monday to Friday, will depart Knock International Airport at 1900 with a flight time of one hour and ten minutes arriving in Liverpool John Lennon Airport at 2010. The return flight will depart Liverpool John Lennon Airport at 2035 and arrive at Knock International Airport at 2150. Fares on the route will start from EUR39.99 one way including tax and the flight will be operated by a 48 seater ATR42 aircraft.
Knock has its knockers. But being able to hop on a plane out of Mayo direct to England, Andorra or the Canaries or Dublin even is a great boon for the West. Long may it continue.