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July 27th 2005

Water, Water, everywhere….

Talking to a developer a few weeks ago, he said he had been informed by a council official that the water supply to Donegal Town would be only sufficient to cater for about 400 new houses. Considering the speed at which the town is expanding, and the number of plannings in the pipeline, this seems an alarming scenario. And it makes it all the more strange that the scheme to extract water from Lough Mourne is aimed at satisfying the needs of east Donegal, ignoring the towns in whose hinterland it lies ie. Donegal Town and Ballybofey.
If this town is facing a water shortage as the official allegedly stated, now is the time for action. Planned work on the lake includes increasing its depth by 15 feet and area by 60 acres. This extra capacity on our doorstep should not be exclusively funnelled to Letterkenny and points east, to the exclusion of this town. When any of the major commercial developments that we have been fighting so hard for, eventually manage to set up in town – and if decentralisation goes ahead – demand for housing in the area will explode. To meet the needs of this new population, all essential infrastructures must be in place – and high among these is an ample water supply.
If there is a danger of a water shortage in this area in the near future, our new councillor and the Community Chamber must act immediately and make it clear to the relevant authorities that if Lough Mourne is to be extended to create extra capacity – then we want part of the action.
And while we’re on the subject - when is the town sewerage scheme going to restart? All that is visible for the work that has taken place so far is a series of very ugly structures disfiguring our beautiful river, green slime covering them - and bricks dropping off. Surely something more appropriate than these could have been designed – and did they have to be placed in the Eske? It’s at least three years since this scheme started – more than a year since the contractor did a bunk – and nothing is moving. According to the minutes of the Donegal Electoral area meeting of 16th May 2005, Mr Michael Breslin confirmed funding was in place to progress the scheme – so what’s holding everything up?
I hate to go on – but what is happening down at the Quay area? The whole section down to the far pier is a mess, rock armouring that started yonks ago is still not finished – due, it is said, to council reluctance in releasing sufficient funds to rapidly finish the scheme. Temporary fencing runs right along the route - and piles of muck disfigure the shoreline bordering the graveyard - a shoreline already scarred by the ugly manhole structures. Channel markers are dumped beside the slipway and half the floating pontoon is anchored at the rock face. With the season now half over – will it take till next summer to get this area back to the scenic natural amenity it once was?

Piering into the Times

Waiting to board the ‘Saga Ruby’ cruise ship for a press tour,journalist Paddy Clancy and Gay Byrne read all the latest news in Donegal Times Photo: Jason McGarrigle

Local developers purchase prime town centre site

Kellys buy three acres adjoining car-park


The purchasers of the valuable tract of town centre land, auctioned on the 13th July in the Mill Park Hotel, are builder Michael Kelly and son, Michael Jnr. The auctioneering firm of Sherry/Fitzgerald/Rainey, acting on behalf of the vendors, Donegal County Council, achieved €4.2 million for the 3 acre site. A record price for the region, the result was greeted with much surprise on the day, “I didn’t think it would go above €3 million” declared one underbidder.
Talking to Donegal Times, Michael Kelly Jnr said he had, as yet, no specific plans for the lands “when the site came on the market, we discussed it at length and talked to our financial people. Eventually we decided to go for it. We own approximately three acres alongside which increases the value of the site to us. We will now talk to our architects and consultants - we’ll not rush this - in the end we want to plan a scheme that will enhance the town centre and be an important catalyst to bringing more business into the area.”
At the sale in the Mill Park, auctioneer Dermot Rainey told the 50 or so in attendance that the prime site was eminently suitable for ‘retail, commercial or residential use, appropriate to a

town centre location’.
Bidding started at €1 million and, advancing in tranches of €100,000, within ten minutes had reached the dizzy heights of €4.2 million - approximating to €1.4 million an acre. It seemed that five punters were in the fray up to the €3 million mark, after that it was left to two diehards to push the price up to its finishing level.
Mr Eugene Faulkner, an accountant from Derry, who was fronting for the successful bidder, refused to give any details and definitely did not want to be interviewed or have his picture taken - he was last seen hightailing it out a back door of the hotel, rather that face the press.
But auctioneer Rainey and Mr Fitz Howard, representing the vendor, Donegal County Council, were not so shy. Expressing satisfaction with the sale, Mr Rainey declared himself “very pleased with the price achieved - it was a good result - we thought it might make €3 million - it went on the market at €2 million”.
Mr Fitz Howard told the Times that the site has huge potential, being so close to the town centre. He explained that one of the conditions of sale was that the 27 parking spaces included in the auction had to be returned free-of-charge to the council when the scheme was completed - along with additional parking spaces appropriate to the scale of whatever development takes place.
This is good news - and certainly it is to be hoped that any planning permission granted will address problems inherent in the site - access, traffic flow, parking - and will insist on a development that complements the aesthetics of a hill that dominates and cradles the town. That a local person, who already has property alongside, has bought the lands should ensure that these criteria are met.
We congratulate Michael Kelly and his son Michael Jnr on a brave and audacious move and wish them well as they go forward to face the demands and challenges an acquisition of this importance is sure to throw up.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

Tel: +353-74-9722860 Fax: +353-74-9722937