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October 8th 2003

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Develop We Will

But How - and When?

With all the diverse claims and counter-claims regarding development on the outskirts and within Donegal Town, it is hard to know what to believe. In the last four years we have listened to aspirations, promises, denials, objections, refusals and recriminations. At this stage our people are angry and confused - is development ever to happen around town?
To begin there was the Keeney consortium’s project at Revlin, first mooted in 1999, which unveiled plans for a large development at the edge of town, had them endorsed by the Council, only to be shot down on appeal by An Bord Pleanala.
Then came Drumlonagher, a Council Scheme, that was to include a hotel, offices, supermarket, garage, retail and factory warehousing. But again, the retail element of this project was refused by the same Bord.
The latest initiative to raise its head is part of the carpark and hill behind the Diamond and Main Street, into which Clr. Kennedy claims a major development is to be placed. Hard to visualize this - whatever about space, it is hard to figure out how the resultant increased traffic flow would enter and exit an area that is already a major bottleneck. It’s one thing to shoehorn a major development into a compact site, it’s another to create the infrastructure around it that will allow the people carry on their daily functions without significant impediment.
Then, last week, reports began to circulate that a big player in the development field had held a meeting with the Bosco executive and the owners of an ajoining site, with a view to assessing willingness to sell their properties to make way for a major scheme.
This could be a big one - as well as the Bosco and track area, this could, with proper negotiation, take in the mart, CIE garage, railway station, Adult Education Centre, various lock-ups, part of the post-office near Marian Villas, and the old gas-works, owned by Jim Donagher - a formidable site. Reports also suggest another roundabout on the by-pass taking in land in front of Ard-Na Breatha restaurant. A very viable option - but a lot of consultation with many different bodies needed to make a reality.
So what will we end up with? Is the future of the town to be inside or outside the by-pass. If inside, will the infrastructure be put in place to support it? Or will objections cease, allowing expansion outwards?
Whichever - what is certain, Donegal Town will expand, whether internally or externally, or both, is the question.
If we are sensible, we will use the enforced delay to plan expansion carefully. We can take a lesson from Letterkenny. Our biggest county town, from the mid-80’s till the millennium, ran out of control - building took place haphazardly along the Pearse Road and elsewhere. It is now starting to get its act together - but too late - the damage is done - infrastructurally and aesthetically the town is a mess.
Donegal Town has the opportunity to avoid these mistakes. We now have a management structure in place, answerable to the Chamber executive. We also have a part-time town planner, and consultant planner seconded from the council. It is up to these people to make sure the town expands responsibly. They should use the hold-up caused by objections etc, to clear their mind as to what the town needs and how it should develop, ensuring that green spaces, attractive planting, river walks, historic sites and natural amenities, all have their place in the final blueprint. It is a big challenge for all concerned, but the fact is, decisions now will determine the shape and direction of the town for centuries to come - so it is imperative that all options are considered before ultimate implementation.

New Owners take helm of Voyage

Handing over the keys - in happy mood are Theresa Cox, husband Gerry, Martin McGowan, Daniel and Sadie Ward Photo & Text: Jason McGarrigle

‘The Voyage’ started nearly ten years ago when Daniel and Sadie Ward, took an interest in purchasing Roxy’s bar on the Diamond. Then owned by Patsy Higgins, the pub had been closed down for six months. The Wards were quick to spot the potential of the bar with its prominent stand on the Diamond and set about buying and renovating the premises.
Daniel, a big Christy Moore fan, decided to christen the new pub after his favourite Christy song - and on the 2nd of June 1994, ‘The Voyage’ opened its doors to the public.
It soon became one of the most popular entertainment hot-spots in the area, attracting custom in all age groups and from every part.
However, all good things must come to an end and Sadie and Daniel made a decision to sell the pub this year.
On Friday 3rd of October, to celebrate nine and a half great years in the venue, they threw a party and, with a backdrop of Noel Jordan’s Karoke, they handed over the keys to the new owners, Theresa & Gerry Cox and Martin McGowan.
Daniel and Sadie wish the new owners the very best of success. They would like to thank all customers down through the years for their support. The new owners are planning an official opening in the near future - so watch this space!

Gavigan cuts corners

with construction friends

The Eglish road at Graffoge bridge had switchback curves so acute that regular accidents occured. Eamon Gavigan came to the rescue; on Saturdays he calls upon his friendly teams in Orbeg and Winterhill and they hasten to the danger zone where they toil and moil to reduce the corner down to size. Billy Hamilton and Lee Magee cut and thrust, massaging the fierce terrain down to a gentle slope. Victor Irwin disposes of the spoil with his own and the Gavigan tractor-trailers. The three Wray brothers (universal constructors) handle the quarrying and chip delivery logistics. The charming Mrs Pat Morrow and Pam provide delicious food. This project was planned in detail with the very cooperative local council staff - project manager is Eamon. Peter K. lent official sponsorship with his august presence. Volunteers work tirelessly on the road drainage with their very own equipment including W.R. Wray snr (resident naturalist), D. Cleary, Gordon Perry, M&P. McCahill. The road is temporarily returned to its expanded capacity each evening - but fine-tuning remains to be done (drivers please beware and drive friendly!). The road and bridge improvements must be seen to be believed.

Historic All-Ireland Triumph for Donegal

What a terrific victory the Donegal ladies pulled off on Sunday. A battling display, show-casing great skills, saw them overcome Kildare to lift the West County Cup for the first time. A great performance, in which every member of the team played their part to achieve this historic win. A second All-Ireland for Donegal, and secured in the best possible way, with free-flowing movement, resolute defending and accurate shooting. And what about the Kelly Lacey goal - we haven’t seen better all Summer. Indeed each of our Four Masters trio played their part in this success - Donna Dunnion, rock solid in defence; Nicola Lacey, a star in midfield - and younger sister Kelly a constant threat up front. And not to forget our other South Donegal stars, Charlene McHugh, Ardara, let nothing past in goal, Aoife McHugh, Ardara, defended with passion and Caroline McGroary made her pressence felt when she came on as a sub in the second half. Well done to all - Donegal is proud of you.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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