From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People - 7 July 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
11, Jul 2004 - 11:04

New-look Castlebar to be unveiled this week

A special presentation on a five-year plan for the future development of Castlebar is to be unveiled at next Thursday night’s monthly meeting of the Town Council. Town Manager, Mr Ray Norton will be outlining the plan. Having obtained an extension to the town boundary some 12 months ago, this new plan is to include the extension which had reflected the growth in the town over the last couple of years. As the Development Plan, which was adopted just last month, had been started before an extension on the boundary was granted, this new outline is to include the future hopes for the ten to 12 extra townlands on every side of Castlebar now being looked after by Castlebar Town Council instead of Mayo County Council.

Is it too much to hope that a lot of the items discussed on the Castlebar Bulletin Board will be included in the new plan? Extending the town boundary is obviously crucial from the point of view of increasing the town’s revenue and ability to manage the town, which has grown enormously in the past few years. In the absence of rates from private houses commercial rates are crucial for the Town Council's income. At present the town does not benefit directly from rates paid by many industries who are effectively located in the town although legally not because they are outside the town boundary. I know that the balance between Mayo County Council and the Town Council is always a delicate one and there is an important symbiosis between the two. So - will we be seeing innovative items such as a band practice centre or a skate park and a number of other items suggested on the bulletin board? Already the Market Square has transformed the look and feel of the town. Here's hoping for more of the same.

Eviction scenes put on show in Mayo museum

RUNNING from July 13 to October 31 2004, the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar will host a striking exhibition of photographs in the Temporary Exhibition Galleries. A number of talks and workshops will be held over the course of the exhibition in Castlebar. In addition, through a combination of artefacts, displays, archival video footage and interactive screens, the Country Life Museum, which opened in September 2001, will be offering visitors the chance to experience the story of Irish country life from 1850 to 1950. The photographs, displaying 37 eviction scenes from the period 1886-1890, are on loan from the National Photographic Archive Section of the National Library of Ireland. The exhibition entitled ‘Notice To Quit: Scenes of Eviction in Ireland 1886-1890’, features a unique photographic record of tenant evictions that occurred throughout the country during the Tenant Rent Protest Campaign.

The Museum of Country Life goes from strength to strength and this new exhibition is sure to be of interest in Mayo where there is still a folk memory of famine evictions. Last year’s house-building exercise was fascinating and the small house built is still there at the corner of the car park. It helps to imagine the cramped conditions that families lived in and it seems very unreal now that five-bedroom neo-Georgian turreted mansions are more the norm than the exception.

Higgins departs for life in Europe

The next General Election will be the first since 1981 that the name of Jim Higgins will not be on the ballot paper in Mayo. Jim’s election to the European Parliament opens up a whole new vista for the Ballyhaunis man while at the same time bringing the curtains down on the more ‘local’ aspect of his political career. In many ways, perhaps the role of MEP provides him with fresh opportunities and a chance to steer clear of the often draining nature of local and national politics. A fluent French speaker, Jim contested the European Election ten years ago when losing out narrowly to Joe McCartin.

Good luck to Jim Higgins. The importance of European legislation for our everyday life should not be underestimated even if it does sometimes take a long time to filter through into national legislation. We are all affected by EU legislation and most of it good - good for our daily lives in matters such as health and our environment – improved drinking water; but also good for our pocket - competition in the areas of telecoms and air travel, for example. We need MEPs to be legislators and to contribute to carefully steer new legislation through the EU Parliament. We need MEPS in the parliament, which now has a greater role than before and they can help to temper any excesses dreamed up by the technocrats in the Commission. Jim Higgins is a bright guy - the kind of person we need representing us in Europe - he has a much lower cringe factor than say Dana or that McCartin fella or God save us Royston Brady!

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