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October 24th 2001

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Mountcharles By-Pass Opens
£5.5 million development comes on stream
Text and photos by Margaret Gallagher

Minister Demsey cuts the tape while North West Radio’s Jerome captures a rare (for him) South Donegal story.

The opening of the Mountcharles by-pass on Thursday 11th October has finally freed up the village from the continuous flow of traffic that had clogged up the streets in both directions for most hours of the day.

For decades past, the townspeople of Mountcharles had witnessed the ever increasing growth of heavy goods vehicles, literally on their doorsteps. The volume of commercial and other vehicles travelling to and from Killybegs resulted in severe congestion and delays in the town Also one of the problems with this traffic was fish spillage which the local residents are glad to see ended. The completion of the new bypass allows the town to enjoy a safer and more pleasing environment, while facilitating the ever increasing flow of traffic in West Donegal. Speaking with some of the residents of the town at the official opening, these sentiments were confirmed.

But will it not harm commercial premises in town? The business people say not. Ann Marie Sheerin of Londis says business is still the same. Ann Robinson of the butcher shop agrees. “There are more spaces for our regular customers to park”. Jim Brennan said it is a great success for the town. Manus Conaghan, the proprietor of Seamount, which is currently on the market, feels it will promote tourism for the area. Peter Sheridan of Glencoagh House Bed & Breakfast says it’s of great benefit and a welcomed asset to the locality. “It unveils the scenic views and I have to say it was well worth putting up with the inconveniences caused”. Anthony Dunlevy, son of the late George Dunlevy, Main Street, who leased the land for the site offices during the project and was down from Dublin for the occasion, “This can only improve Mountcharles, especially with all the new industry which is coming to Donegal Town. Mountcharles is the ideal dormitory suburb for Donegal and I feel the bypass will help to expand the south of the county” he commented.

Michael McLoone, Manager of Donegal County Council, gave an opening speech in which he thanked everybody concerned and then called on Rev. Ian Henderson, Rev. Alan Carson, Rev. Gordon Freeman and Fr. John McLoone to give an inter-denominational blessing.

Mr. Noel Dempsey T.D., Minister for the Environment and Local Government, congratulated everybody involved, mentioning especially Charles Wills and staff. He continued “I want to congratulate and thank the people of the locality most of all for putting the commercial good of the area before their own needs, in giving up their back gardens, plots of land or whatever was needed to make this project the success that it is. The bypass will contribute significantly to improving road safety and in terms of economic benefit. Improved roads mean less journey times. Good roads open up areas for development, with a spin-off in terms of job creation.”

The Minister went on to say, “The project cost £5.5 million approx. and it was money well spent. It comes complete with climbing lane, hard shoulders, three major junctions, an underpass and an under-bridge. Indeed I am familiar with the congestion and problems with traffic in the town. For a number of years I travelled through the town en-route to visit my brother, Brendan, who was bank manager in Killybegs. I dreaded this part of the journey” - “But” he joked “this is not why the bypass was granted”.

He went on to say that it was a prestigious road project, fitting into an overall network for the county, the Donegal bypass, the Clar road and now this. The Minister felt it will enhance Mountcharles and commented on the wonderful scenery, which he had never noticed before, surrounding the area.

The Minister went on to unveil a sand-stone tableau crafted by local man Dan McMonagle, followed by cutting the tape. After all the ceremonies were over, there was a very enjoyable evening in the Mill Park Hotel.

Speaking with Mary Coughlan there, she said it was a significant structural development for the south of the County, benefiting not only Mountcharles but the entire area. She said she looks forward to further improvements to the N56, taking in Killybegs and Gweedore.

Pat the Cope commented “It dovetails with the Donegal bypass and will be a great benefit to west Donegal”. There was a very interesting brochure on the bypass distributed at the opening outlining the history of Mountcharles and surrounding townlands written by Helen Meehan.

Go níeirigh an bothair leat.

The on-site workers

Monte Carlo Man adds...


Our own “Kate Adie” in the Times, Margaret Gallagher, is carving a nice wee niche as a features reporter with her on the spot investigative reporting of big events happening around. “You don’t mind me doing a bit on the opening of the By-Pass”? she hesitantly asked, clutching an elusive Council invitation. “Mind” says I ? I’d be delighted”. So armed with a camera, an A4 pad and a pen, she headed off. “To infinity and beyond” the intrepid reporter chortled, making a B line for Monte Carlo on her Raleigh chopper. And she even got her wee cup of tea afterwards.

The best quotes are always off the record an dtuigeann tú? and a little bird who was there told me that when the ceremony was finished Minister Noel Dempsey said out off everyones earshot looking at the back of the village “Could do with a lick of paint, this wee town”. As the Bud frog on the T.V Adv says. True! Best thing for it is a line of evergreens. They’ll muffle the noise as well. Local personality Con Underwood put it well when he told me “this town was heading for a heart attack with all the traffic tearin’ through it.” And Bill Srail, Eddie Gallagher’s right hand man, was all for it as well when he told me in his own quite Scottish lilt “T’is great, Ay !”

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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