Local Papers Commentary
From the Connaught Telegraph 21 July 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
Jul 25, 2004, 10:48

Mast supplying cross-channel TV to Ballyhaunis and Ballinlough must come down

A MAST providing English television channels to customers in the Ballyhaunis and Ballinlough areas will have to come down – by order of the Circuit Court. Judge Harvey Kenny, ruling in a case taken by Mr. Joseph Grennan, Loughhill, Ballinlough, against Mr. Donal Moran, Gurteen, Ballyhaunis, made an order for removal of the mast at Leow, Ballyhaunis, forthwith. Community Channel TV Limited (Ballyhaunis) and its directors were joined as defendants in the motion as Mr. Moran is just a technical advisor to the company. … Mr. John Halpin, the Chairman of Community Channel TV Limited, explained that their non-profit making organisation brings TV channels to the Ballyhaunis/Ballinlough area. They have been in existence since the early 80s and have had a mast at Leow since 1984. They erected the new mast because the old one was becoming dangerous. In addition, the reception was very bad with the old service. Judge Kenny heard that the old mast was 18m high and the new one is 22m high.

Imagine what would happen if we could not receive BBC1, BBC2, UTV, Channel 4? Frankly m’dear I wouldn’t give a damn – couldn’t we watch Sky?

Retirement village planned for Knock

PLANNING permission is being sought for a Retirement Village and Residential Housing Scheme in Knock. The proposed Retirement Village will include 72 bungalows, with a Residents Centre also on site. The developers behind the proposal, Seamus Dolan and John Waldron, both natives of Knock, have applied to Mayo County Council for planning permission for the large-scale development at Carrowmore, situated on the Kiltimagh Road, on the outskirts of the village. The development is in two separate schemes. The first scheme consists of a retirement village which is to be called Carrowmore Meadows "Time for Life" Village, consisting of 72 semi-detached two bedroom bungalows, on landscaped grounds.

Old folks homes situated on high speed main roads miles from anywhere seem to be the most popular way of getting rid of that awkward problem of ailing parents or relatives these days. In the past, institutions like St. Mary’s here in Castlebar were a very convenient solution. (I am not talking about your relatives, of course, dear reader).

Maybe the kind of development proposed for Knock is a healthier proposition? A sign of the times perhaps, although there was an infamous case of a retirement village in Wicklow that ended up in a total disaster due to financial problems. This is the American solution for those who have put away sufficient for their retirement and have a decent pension.

But what if you only have a state pension and live in a rural bungalow five or 10 miles from Castlebar and you are over 70 and starting to fail a bit physically? You will probably be starting to realise that we have planned (using the word loosely) ourselves into a country that has the real potential of becoming a nightmare for the aged. We have moved into long-distance dream homes. But in a dream home it is not possible to just ‘pop out’ for a loaf of bread or a bag of sugar. You have to get into your car and drive for at least 10 to 15 minutes each way.

Ideally, as you age you would have moved back into town – downsize – and cash in by selling off your ‘country mansion’. If you can, then do this now because it may not be a realistic long-term option. Especially now after Iraq and the focus on oil reserves again, it is clear that oil reserves have peaked. We are on the down-slope of oil production – and this ironically at a time when demand for cheap oil is increasing rapidly in populous countries like China and India as their massive economies are awakening.

So we shouldn’t really be surprised when the price of a litre of petrol hits four or five euros at today’s prices. That immediately alters the economics of long-distance commuting and of lifestyles that are highly car dependent. In Ireland we don’t even have the luxury of going to war to keep petrol prices low we just have to pay the price at the pump! In the 1970s and 1980s country houses were abandoned all over Mayo for economic reasons – people could not afford to live there unemployed so they took off to England and the USA – they couldn’t be sold and even at knock-down prices no one wanted to buy remote rural houses.

So cashing in on the country mansion may not be an option for much longer. What is the value of house that is not within walking distance of a shop, school, church when you can’t afford petrol to commute to work 30 miles away every day? Or even worse what if you can’t even buy petrol even if you could afford it? Some of us remember in the petrol queues of the 1970s and early 1980s.

The appalling vista is to be aged and/or infirm, to be no longer able to drive and simply unable to sell up and move into town closer to facilities. At 70 you won’t be able to take out another mortgage to pay the difference between the sale price of your rural house and that of a small town house or apartment. So bear in mind that the value of one-off houses in the middle of nowhere could plummet in the medium term. As the cost of ‘hopping’ into the car for the pint of milk increases, and/or as health fails or when we can no longer get a licence to drive a car safely, we become dependent on others especially family members. Unfortunately those family members do not live anywhere near you – 20, 50, 150 miles away or even in another country.

At least in a village or town provided we can walk or maybe even just shuffle out to get that bag of sugar or bite for the dinner. So save for your retirement and you may be able to afford a place in the ‘Time for Life’ retirement village when your time comes.

Mayo dancers represent Ireland at Latvian folk festival

SEVENTEEN Co. Mayo Irish dancers left today (Wednesday) to represent Ireland at an international five-day folk festival in Riga, Latvia. The group, members of The Redmond Academy of Irish Dancing, who were placed second at the World Dancing Championships, participated in the Féile Europeade in Mayo in April after which they were invited to participate in Europeade 2004 this week. Accompanied by their teachers and two musicians, they will be involved in several street performances over the next few days. The highlight of their trip will be on Sunday night when, together with more than 4,000 participants from thirty-eight European countries, they will perform in Riga’s Skonto Stadium.

Well I got a great kick out of the Europeade parade and events here in Castlebar when the town was invaded by a colourful multinational bunch of musicians, singers, dancers, stilt-walkers and sword-fighters. Hopefully the Redmond kids will enjoy their stay in Latvia and get to know a bit about our strange new European partners on the other side of Europe.

© Copyright 2003 by and the author