Donegal Town Boom or Bust?
A rash of closures, change of location and new developments, has resulted in a glut of retail, office and, soon apartment space, available around town. On Bridge Street, Kearneys Drapers is shut and further down Window Elegance is holding a closing down sale. On the Diamond, Classic Casuals is vacant since its fire before Christmas, and Marys is reported to be closing. In Paul Duncans Arcade, two ground floor units are currently empty, but it is believed that a new tenant will soon move into one of these. Upstairs the NWHB are due to vacate their offices soon.
At the Millcourt, two ground floor units, previously operated by North West Radio and the Antiques shop, are vacant.
On Main Street, Sally Gallaghers shop is for sale, First Active will close next month and the old Carr Footwear Shop lies empty. On Upper Main Street, The Talk of the Town premises is vacant and Diamond Travel is closed and for sale.
Quay Street seems to be doing well. Only Proper Price lies vacant but, according to a recent planning notice, Graham Bookmakers will soon move in there. There is a For Sale sign on the building that houses Denis Gorman, a man revelling in the fact that his beloved Man Utd, have once again become premier League champions.
Across the river, at least one unit in the new development at New Row is for letting and round at Waterloo Place the late Eileen McBreartys Bar and Shop sports an auctioneers sign.
Up at Super Valu, the unit that housed Headers Beauty Salon and Hairdressers is vacant as is the outlet out at Euro house that up to recently contained U-Pick Furniture.
Added to these is space available in new developments. Michael Breslin has three floors for letting, the first of which is currently taken by the Donegal Democrat and Minister Coughlans office. Up on Main Street, Michael Doran is renovating Neros to create retail, apartments and office space. Nearby Michael Kellys project at the old cinema will similarly generate retail, office and apartments, while out at Drumlonagher, the Co. Council development will bring a large batch of office space onto the market. Also in Drumlonagher the complex opposite the Cleary Centre has a unit to let.
There is also office space available in Patsy Kellys, Drumrooske Business Park and at Euro House.
Out at Trummon, near Laghey, Michael Kelly is letting warehousing and storage units, while in the village itself, Desmond Kees current development will generate space for lease when he moves existing facilities to the new premises.
Another development, presently in progress at the Millpark Hotel, will release more apartments on to the market, while rumours abound of a big project on council ground at the base of Millers Hill, behind the car park.
All this before Danny Keeney has even turned a sod at his planned development at Revlin which, if it comes to pass, will release retail, residential, office and licensed space on to the market.
So here we are, Donegal Town in the conflicting position of having at least five major developments in progress, bringing on stream retail, office and apartment capacity, while at the same time having a plethora of vacant properties for lease, letting and sale. In coming issues, we will do an in-depth report on how people see our town, how they would like it developed and what they figure its present strengths and weaknesses are. On page 8 is an Enterprise Office questionnaire - we urge you to fill it out and return. With your input and the work of the new Enterprise and Planning Officer we can move forward in a controlled and upmarket way - avoiding the mistakes of other centres that allow rapid expansion take over and manipulate their agendas.
Ras Arrives in Donegal Town
Great Reception for Weary Cyclists
Winning category riders on Buncrana/Donegal Town stage of Ras. Dana Breslin, Miss FBD Milk Ras; Tommy Evans, (blue jersey) second on stage; Eugene Moriarty, First County Rider home; Chris Newton, (Yellow jersey) Overall Leader; Thomas Lovkvist, Sweden, leading U23 rider; Jonas Holmkvist, Sweden, leader of points classification and stage winner; Maxim Iglinskiv of Kazakhstan, leader of King of the Mountains competition; Liam McCrea FBD, Donegal Town; Seamus Hannon, Connaught Gold
A big crowd gathered in the centre of town to watch the FBD Milk Race finish on the Diamond last Friday. Hotels, guesthouses and B & Bs were packed to capacity as the cyclists and entourage, numbering up to 300, took up every available bed in town and surrounding area.
First signs of the approaching cavalcade came around 3p.m. when advance vehicles and motor bikes took up positions at junctions and approaching roads. About 15 minutes later, the scream of sirens in the distance signalled the approach of the cyclists. Into view came police fourwheeler and motor cyclists, lights flashing - and behind the first group of riders, sprinting up to 40 mph, striving to be first to cross the winning line.
Earlier, our reporter, Margaret Gallagher, was in position on Glengesh, one of the highest climbs on the tour, to file this report.
The top of Glengesh was the place to be last Friday afternoon as we awaited the 114 riders left in the FBD Milk race, to reach this gut-wrenching category 1 climb. Usually the only sound to be heard here is of water flowing down the mountain, blending with the sight of sheep grazing along the road side - but not today. Spectators had gathered from early morning with some camped overnight at the top. These knowledgeable Ras followers predicted that the decisive battle would be fought here, and were happy to await this - their only complaint being the flesh-biting midges. Squally showers fell all morning and a blanket of mist covered the top of the mountains but, as the patient waiting crowd watched, the dark cloud broke and blue sky appeared, with visibility improving. The overnight rain had left the road surface slippery, so this category 1 climb was going to be a tough one.
We were all kept well informed as the reporter for the Cycling Weekly magazine had his radio tuned to pick up Ras messages.
As the team hit the foot of the ferociously steep climb of Glengesh, everybody got out their cameras, binoculars - and the father of one of the cyclists, Kieran Matthews, produced a tin of green paint and proceeded to spray K.M. on different parts of the road.
Now there were blue lights flashing, loud speakers booming and sirens wailing. Then, what we were all waiting for, the cyclists - determined attacks being launched as they climbed to the slippery summit. The entire bunch were strung out in single file with three leaders broken away, led by Tommy Evans. As they turned the S, at the steepest part of the climb, most of the cyclists were out of the saddle riding strongly. As they reached us near the summit, big cheers went up, everybody clapping encouragingly as the cyclists, muscles straining, grasped ever closer the top of the ascent - their agony was nearly over. First to clear the top was Tommy Evans, Ireland.
Back in Donegal the crowd erupted as the first three cyclists rocketed into town - first across the finish line was Jonas Holmkvist, Sweden, followed by Tommy Evans, Ireland and Thomas Lovkist, Sweden.
Speaking to Jonas later, he declared himself delighted with the win I also won stage 2 which was from Roscrea to Clifden - I am lucky to have a good leader, Thomas Lovkist, and gave me the chance in the last 100m. I found the climb of Glengesh very difficult as I am a sprinter, not a climber. This young rider has recently came first in the tour of Norway, where he also won two stages.
On Saturday morning you would never guess that the cyclists had already five days hard racing under their belts. Over at the Bosco Centre at 10.45am., they all signed in, climbed on their bikes and, to the pipes of the Ardaghey Band, made their way processional style to the Diamond, where John Curran, head of local organising committee, dropped the flag to get them on their way - 180km to Oldcastle, Co. Meath.
The overall winner when race reached Phoenix Park, Dublin on Sunday was Chris Newton, Great Britain team.
The stage-end organising committee would like to thank the following: An Garda Siochana, White Hotel Group, Super Valu, Arctic Fish Sales Co., Members of Donegal Town Community Chamber who provided stewarding on the day; Transition Year students who stewarded, Krypton, Dana Breslin, St. Nauls Pipe Band, Cathal ODonoghue (Traffic Warden), Raymond Timoney (Timoney Electrical).