Kellys get go-ahead
Congratulations to Michael Kelly senior and jnr whose mixed-use town centre development has recently received approval from the Council. An inspirational design by Tony Carr and Company, Ballybofey, will provide this town with the retail, entertainment, car parking, and residential mix that it craves. The new development, on Millers Hill, should bring a new vibrancy to the town centre to which it will be linked by pedestrian routes.
The site was sold to the Kellys at auction in July 2005 by Donegal Co. Council. Tony Carr was appointed to head up the design team in producing suitable blueprints. Thirteen months later, in September 2006, a planning application was lodged. Further information was requested by planners. Last week notification of a decision to grant was received by the Kellys with 30 conditions attached.
This new development will be a big challenge for the father and son, but one we are confident they will rise to. We wish them every success in the month ahead
Bring the Railway back to Donegal
I took my last journey on a railway in Donegal in the year 1958. I was going back to school and this neccessiated a trip through the Gap by railbus to Strabane where I got on a train to Dublin, changing at Portadown. Almost 50 years ago - a depressed Ireland - and most of my fellow passengers heading for the emigrant boat.
The old railway station was a focal point in town. You would awaken to the steam trains whistle, spend hours in the week sitting over there watching the activity, loading and unloading, shunting, Maggie Walsh in her newsagent and sweetie shop, the station master (a gigantic figure in a young lads mind) passing the baton and waving his flag. Then, of course, later on, the cabin on the other side of the track where our innocent courting rituals were practiced - if you could get there ahead of everyone else.
And the excursions to Rossnowlagh! Clutching our sandwiches and bottle of milk, the carriages would be packed leaving Donegal, having picked up at all stations from Strabane - but we still had to collect at Drumbar, Laghey and Ballintra - the young kids were literally hanging off the roof. I remember also going to the agricutural show at Danby in Ballyshannon by train, much to the disgust of my elder sister who didnt want to be looking after me for the day.
Now things have turned full cycle. Ireland is a boom country - immigration rather than emigration is the norm, houses are springing up - and the roads are packed. Cars, vans and HGVs clutter all routes and the stress and frustraton in long distance driving has increased in proportion. And dont mention The Smoke, if youre not: in your prime, in possession of nerves of steel, able to anticipate a turn three streets ahead, oblivious to horns sounding if you delay a second at lights, a person who takes two fingers as a victory sign, then dont ever think of taking a car into it!
Almost all freight is now carried by road. Massive artics travel all routes from the early hours of the morning. Get stuck behind one and often you can resign yourself to a slow, carbon-monoxide filled journey.
So what do we do? Well theres a very good bus service leaving from the Diamond. Only bother, it meanders all over the place, pulling off main routes to visit every hamlet and village on the route. A journey that would take a handy three hours can take up to four and a half.
So what is the answer?
Well, lets go back to the railways. A letter in this paper a few weeks ago by Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, suggested a railway loop line running around the coast of Ireland - Sligo to Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Letterkenny, Ballybofey, Donegal Town and back to Sligo.
What an idea!
Combined with the internal network already in place, passengers and freight going anywhere in the country should be no more than 30 miles away from any station. Wouldnt it be great to go over Tirconaill Street, climb on a train and be able to get anywhere in the county in comfort - read your book, work your laptop - get a cup of tea and a bun, get up and walk around - and reach your destination fresh and ready for action!
It would take a lot of traffic off the road, cut down on toxic fumes, entice tourists to the county (imagine coming thro the Gap) - and create a living working centre of movement and sound in town.
Sinn Fein has a proposal in front of the county council for a feasibility study on a future railway network for the county. It should receive the full backing of our local representatives.
And going back to the Opinion piece on Vision, or lack of, in our last issue, what greater foresight could our town worthies exhibit than to join the campaign for a coastal railway network covering the whole country.
Mary on fire in Killybegs Station. Sinn Fein councillor Thomas Pringle and Fine Gael Councillor John Boyle give Minister Coughlan a political lift in Killybegs Fire Station. Pic: Margaret Gallagher
And how is your water?
Donegal Times survey reveals not all are happy
The pollution of the waters in Galway city and environs, and its attendant problems has been well publicised. The presence of cryptosporidium within rivers and lakes in part of that county has meant that water for all purposes has first to be boiled - or else bottled water used. Many people in the area affected have fallen foul of the bug which can cause quite severe food poisoning-like symptoms.
Having heard so much of the adverse reactions in the City of the Tribes and neighbouring regions, we wondered about our own area - how good is the water in Donegal Town and surrounds? So we contacted people in different places, both official and householders - and this seems to be the consensus.
The town itself has a good water supply, both in quantity and quality. This comes from the River Eske - and the treatment plant at Drumlonagher is entirely adequate - and indeed is currently being upgraded. Samples of the water are monitored daily by the council and frequent random checks from the health board.
Peter Donoghue, Donegal County Council Senior Executive Engineer, in confirming that the Eske plant at Drumlonagher is under refurbishment at the moment said Over the past few months, the treatment facility out at Drimlonagher is undergoing an intensive upgrade and, yes, I would say that it is long overdue.
Reports are not so good for those who get their supply from Cullinbouy and St Peters Lake. Residents in the Barnes/Leghowney area have complaints about the quality, as well as the quantity. John Cassidy, a resident in the Leghowney area, told the paper that originally the water system from Cullinbouy was designed for 120 household now there is in the region of 500 hooked onto it. John claims that there are two problems 1. the quality of the water and 2. the pressure. According to Mr Cassidy, most houses in the area are unable to use their washing machines or dishwashers because the water is too brown and/or there is not enough pressure. John said he had written on numerous occasions to the Council over the years, but with no success. He is adamant that the water at source is perfect but the problem is what happens it on the way to household. He points the finger at obsolete treatment equipment.
However, Mr Donoghue told us that water supply pipes are already laid, the pump house built and, hopefully, in the months ahead this scheme will be incorporated into the Eske supply and the updated treatment plant at Drumlonagher. So hopefully this will sort out both pressure and quality in those areas.
Residents in the Ballydevitt area are very unhappy, with householders having to use bottled water all the time. Their water comes from St. Peters Lake and the treatment plant is at the Glebe and the Glencoagh slow sand-filter station. However these are due to be replaced by a new facility at Drumbeigh.
Paul Lyons, Council Executive Engineer Water and Environment, explained the water is perfect except for the brown colour. The water is treated with chlorine but there is no colour removal added. This water is tested and monitored daily by the council and also by unannounced frequent visits from the health board. It is perfectly suitable for consumption and use - though the colour may be off-putting. There is a new treatment plant being built at Drumbeigh where there is already a station servicing Glencoagh lake. This is costing in the region of ¤1.9million and the contractors are due to start next month.
Paul continued The Donegal Electoral Area has seventeen sources of Public Water Schemes and the annual report each year released by the EPA showed last year that Donegal drinking water is running at 97% compliance.
The Inver area, which is supplied by Glencoagh Lake and treated at the existing Drumbeigh plant was upgraded in 1998. Residents there have no complaints about the quality of their water but say that the supply is turned off quite often. Paul Lyons confirmed that this is because of the stretch of piping from the Cranny Road to the Ardaghey Cross Roads carries old asbestos piping that is constantly leaking - but he is optimistic that pipe replacement will take place before the end of this year as they have applied for funding from different departments.
The conclusion is that our water supply is being monitored daily and tested frequently by the health board and is found to be in a good state - the colour may not be right and the pressure and supply not adequate, but the good news that all is under the watchful eye of the EPA, Health Board and Donegal County Council. With the upgrade of the Drumlonagher plant, the extension to the Drimbeigh works, the amalgamation of the Cullinbouy water source to the Eske, by the end of 2007, all water problems should be sorted out.
So although there is some glitches and dissatifaction with our water at the moment, the Council is working to rectify these problems to give our region the best supply and quality possible.