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Friday, 29 June 2012

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Proposal for new Tipperary County Council to be based in Nenagh

The proposed creation of Tipperary County Council envisages that Directorates such as Finance, Roads, Planning, Library Services and Information Technology be located in Nenagh while Directorates such as Water, Environment, Housing, Corporate and Human Resource be located in Clonmel.

Clonmel’s responsibilities in the Water and Environment however will be much diluted as a new company is to be established by the government to oversee the provision of water services nationally and refuse collection is now carried out by private companies. This all means that Clonmel will be in the more unfavourable position with the merger.

The County Manager will likely to be located in Nenagh if the major Directorates are run from there. These proposals are contained in a draft plan sent to the government last month by Local Government Minister Phil Hogan. Clonmel based councillor Siobhán Ambrose has stated that it will be an erosion of local government in the south of the county if the proposals are carried through.

I think that she may have a point as the directorates proposed for Nenagh are the most vital for the running of local government and this would mean that Clonmel the largest town, 90km away and in the far south of the county, would be under represented.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The merger of North and South Tipperary County Councils

The ‘White Paper’ on local government reform is due at the end of the 2012. This paper will recommend the merger of North and South Tipperary County Councils. However from what I see the advantages of this are far outweighed by the disadvantages. Most councillors are in disagreement with the proposals including North Tipperary Mayor Councillor Michael Lowry (Ind).

The arguments against the merger are there there will be fewer Electoral Areas and Councillors, town councils would be abolished, would create ‘regional government’ instead of ‘local government’, the €16,500 council salary will remain unchanged and the costs of implementation. All this to save a small amount of money by reducing the number of public sector workers.

Read this interesting article from todays Nenagh Guardian on the merger proposals.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Tipperary election boundary change and still too many TDs

Fine Gael promised before the last general election to cut the number of TDs by up to 20. The Constituency Commission Report published this week recommends that the reduction would be a mere 8 TDs representing an overall drop from 165 to 158 TDs. The number of constituencies is set to drop from 43 to 40 and Tipperary is one of the counties that will be affected most by these election boundary changes.

The Borrisokane area of North Tipperary is to be included in the proposed 3 seater Offaly Constituency. This part of North Tipperary represents about 11,000 voters and makes up parishes such as Puckane and Ardcroney on the outskirts of the town. The rest of Tipperary will form a 5 seater constituency.

The North Tipperary TD to benefit most is likely to be Michael Lowry who home base of Holycross straddles North and South Tipperary. In the UK there are 650 MPs which represents on average one MP per 68,000 constituents, in Ireland on average one TD represents 25,000 constituents. A drop of 8 TDs is only a relatively minor change and this promise by Fine Gael of 20 TDs being cut is yet another example of a shallow promise for votes.

Interesting article on proposed boundary changes in the recent edition of the Nenagh Guardian

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Lough Derg an ecological disaster

Lough Derg was once a plentiful source of fish species such as Polan, only found in Ireland, the red spotted Gilaroo Trout and wild salmon. These fish have being residing in the lake since the last ice age and are now in grave danger of becoming extinct due to human intervention.

Pollution such as run offs from argriculture and effluent from sewage treatment plants and septic tanks are deoxygenating the water in the lake and compromising fish life. The pollution creates a blue/green algae known as algae blooms to develop on the surface of the lake especially during the summer months.

In the 1920's Ardnacrusha hydroelectric dam was constructed on the Lower Shannon, the result of this was a disruption to the migration patterns of salmon to and from the Atlantic, sightings of this fish are now very rare.

Foreign invasive species such as the Zebra Mussel native to the Caspian Sea found it's way into the lake in the 1990's. This mussel filters the water causing more sunlight to penetrate resulting in dense weed growth. The waste it produces has choked the native mussel to extinction.

Roach a none native coarse fish introduced to the lake is particularly triving to the detrenent of native fish which compete for the same food. Nutall’s Pondweed, Asian Clam and the bloody red shrimp are other non-native species found in the lake.

Unfortunately the fragile eco-system of the lake has been damaged forever and there is always the potential of more non-native species being introduced in the years to come. The birdlife is thriving however as shown in the amazing footage captured by English last year.

 Murmuration Starlings over Lough Derg

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Moriarty Tribunal has suspect evidence on Micheal Lowry

No definite figure is available for the cost of the Moriarty Tribunal, the Department of the Taoiseach which oversees spending on the enquiry estimates that the amount spent on lawyers’ fees was approximately €33.7 million, this according to its secretary general Martin Fraser.

To date third party costs are €43 Million, however an estimate previously published by the Comptroller & Auditor General stated that the final cost could be anywhere between €40 and €80 million. This would mean that the Tribunal could end up costing the tax payer €120 Million and in the process make millionaires out of many of the top lawyers.

Even with this enormous cost and 14 years of investigation no criminal charges have ever been brought against any of the individuals who were found guilty of corruption in the Tribunals final report. Michael Lowry a TD (Ind) representing North Tipperary for the past 14 years is no exception to this.

The enquiry investigated an alleged clandestine payment of €900,000 from Esat Digifone founder Denis O’Brien to Michael Lowry in 1995. This was in relation to the awarding of the country’s second mobile licence during which time Michael Lowry was FG Minister of Communications.

Whether or not he is guilty the Criminal Assets Bureau cannot find any evidence of illegal payments and all evidence in the report is hearsay and not based on fact. Despite the Tribunal investigations the people in North Tipperary continue to show their faith in him and their belief that these investigations are nothing more than a witch hunt.

In the 2011 General Election Michael Lowry returned 14,000 or 29.2 percent of first preference votes one of the highest in the country. For me the only evidence that counts are charges brought by the state and not those brought by lawyers whose only goal is to increase there wages.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Nenagh rail line timetable changes a small first step

Last January it was widely reported in the media that the Nenagh to Ballybrophy rail line would be closed. This branch line had a meager two services each way per day to Dublin/Limerick, numereous speed restrictions were also imposed on the line due to the deterioration of sections of the track. 

Recently the Minister for State in the Department of Transport Alan Kelly announced an increase from 4 to 7 on the number of trains running each day.  The new timetable will mean that commuters can arrive in Dublin before 9am on direct early morning trains in a travel time of 2.20 hours, tickets are to cost from 26 Euros.

This is still just a small step to get commuters back using this line, there needs to be a major upgrade of track work and lowering of travel times, otherwise the bus will always win out.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Lough Derg water to be piped to Dublin, is it a good thing?

In October of last year Dublin City Council made a presentation to North Tipperary on the water proposed extraction plan from Lough Derg. This €500 million project envisages that a pipeline would be laid from Dublin to Lough Derg and that 350 mega litres of water would be extracted from the lake daily.

Proponents of the plan state that the benefits will far outweigh any of the minor inconveniences created. For example a new 700 acre wetland lake would be created on bog owned by Bord na Mona County Offaly near Portarlington and would act as an 'Eco Park' based on the Rutland model.

This it was claimed would generate one million visitors annually and provide for outdoor activities such angling, boating and birdwatching. The project would also generate up to 1,000 new jobs and most importantly provide 40 per cent of the population with its water needs.

A report commission by DCC states that neither the water temperature or water level will be affected by this proposal. This however has not reassured members of North Tipperary Council who along with Limerick and Clare County councils have request advice from third party professionals on the implications this extraction plan might have.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Nenagh CBS students barred from sitting exams

In keeping with antics that happen all over the country during the end of the school term a prank was carried out at Saint Joesphs CSB School in Nenagh by a number of students at the end of May. Two weeks before the start of exams a group of six students ran across a playing field naked and with wigs during a charity soccer match being played between teachers and fourth year students.

The incident resulted in four Leaving Certificate students being requested to sit their exams in another school. The incident was a low point of a year that saw the school win their first ever All-Ireland hurling title beating Kilkenny CBS 3-10 to 2-11. In the semi they defeated St Kieran’s of Kilkenny who were going for three in a row.
 
Nenagh CBS v Kilkenny CBS 2012 Hurling Final

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Cycle Tracks A Waste of Money?

Last August the Minister of State for Transport our local TD Alan Kelly announced a €4 million program to create cycleway nationwide. Two such schemes have been envised for Nenagh, a €888,000 54km track from Nenagh to Limerick along the R445 (old N7) and a €150,000 2km track along the N52 bypass.

Local councillors such as Jim Casey (FF) have question the value for money of these projects when other roads around the county are in desperate need of resurfacing. Cyclist.ie, the national lobby group for cyclist have also been critical, suggesting the debris from the road would end up on these cycle lanes and represent a big hazard to cyclist unless there was a daily regime to sweep them.

Personally I think this government and Labour included have begun to do things I only thought Fianna Fail would be capable of.


Team DMG training in the Nenagh Classic on the N7

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Factories in Nenagh and job losses

Nenagh has two industrial estates Lisboney and Gortlandroe. Lisboney was home of the pharmaceutical plant Aventis Pharma, formally Rhone Poulenc, which came to the town in 1981 this plant closed in 2002 with the loss of 230 jobs. In 2009 the Irish biotechnology company HKPB Scientific announced that they would be locating at the site with the intention of creating 200 jobs over five years.

Gortlandroe Industrial Estate is the home of three manufacturing plants Wilton Medical, Robert Sheahan Manufacturing Limited and US Multinational Procter and Gamble Ireland. MJM Electronics and Tubex closed their doors in 2006. Procter and Gamble workforce was reduced to 170 employees in 2007 from a total workforce of 500. This company first arrived in Nenagh in 1982 and had two divisions, cosmetics and skincare, the loss of the skincare division to Poland was the principal reason for the job losses.

Careys Glass Factory is the other surviving manufacturing plant in the town. The company was founded in 1965 by three brothers and is now one of the leading employers in Nenagh. According to their website, their 85,000m2 facility is the largest single site processing plant for glass in Europe, they also claim to be the leading glass manufacturer in Ireland. They produce mirrors, insulated glass, tempered glass, and solar panels. However they were not immune to the economic downturn in Nenagh in the late 2000's and their workforce was reduced from 470 to 190 in 2007.
Procter & Gamble Factory

Monday, 11 June 2012

Nenagh pubs

There are approximately twenty five pubs in Nenagh and one niteclub, with the name’ Club Maximus’ formerly ‘Easy Street’. During the Celtic Tiger years the number of pubs was much higher but with the downturn in the economy and the change in drinking culture to people’s homes, many with a small turnover could not survive.

Even once popular pubs such as Dowlinz’s, The Widow’s Bar and Nolan’s have had to close their doors, trade in other once popular pubs such as The Kenyon and Rocky’s has dropped  a considerable amount. The Kenyon Bar is largest pub in the town with a disco bar called K2 at the rear of the pub.

The pub has an old world charm and has been nicely renovated with the upstairs converted into a balcony, the disco bar hosts live music on weekends for a mostly older audience. The Talbot Bar across the road, considerably smaller than the Kenyon, has a much younger crowd and host gigs of mainly of local bands.

Una Powell’s has become one of the most popular pubs in the town, although the bar is extremely small and can only accommodate a handful of people there is a large smoking area and big screen to the bar. The other popular bars in the town are The Well, The Hibernian Inn, The Dapp Inn, The Abbots and The Half Barrel. The only premises to open after 12am are the late bars Rocky’s and The Kenyon and Club Maximus.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Ghost Estates

Half built houses on Dromin Road
The economy of Nenagh expanded rapidly during the decade from 1998 to 2008, this period saw a big increase in construction activity with numerous building sites around the town. Developers purchased land in newly zoned areas, often at triple its pre-Celtic Tiger value.

Today construction activity is frozen, with most of the construction firms in liquidation. Some of these estates have up to 50% of houses unoccupied and other estates are hoarded off due to their state of completeness and health and safety reasons.

Examples of estates built during the Celtic Tiger years include Castleoak - Dark Road, Drummin Village - Borrisokane Road, Woodview Close and Coille Bheithe - Conlan’s Road, Droim an Oir - Dromin Road and Springfort Meadows on the Limerick Road. This is just a sample from a small rural twon like Nenagh.

Nationwide there are approximately 2,800 ghost estates according to a survey by the Department of the Environment. The survey showed that from May to September 2012, there were 120,000 homes in ghost estates. The homes fully completed and occupied was 77,000, the homes completed but empty was 33,000 and a further 10,000 homes were in the early stages of construction.

In cities such as Dublin or Galway the problem of unoccupied homes is not as acute as in rural town. With demographic statistic from the recent 2011 census showing that more and more people are moving to the cities, then in a relatively short few years supply will meet demand here. This is not the case for a town like Nenagh where this period could be many decades.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Sports in Nenagh

Eire Og Nenagh is the local gaelic football and hurling team based at Mac Donagh Park, Gortlandroe where there is a stand, clubhouse and indoor courts. Nenagh Ormond Rugby Club is located in Tyone and Nenagh Town Football Club in Springfort.

One of only two indoor athletic tracks in Ireland is located in Ballygraigue on the outskirts of Nenagh. The town also has two swimming pools, an 18 hole golf course and a tennis club. Lough Derg Yacht Club is based in nearby Dromineer.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Churches

Saint Marys of the Rosary Church
St. Mary of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church is one of the finest examples of a Neo-Gothic church in Ireland. Initally proposed as the location for the cathedral church for the Dioceses of Killaloe by that man again Bishop Michael Flannery, it was completed in 1896. The church was designed by Walter Doolin and constructed with limestone, Portroe slate and imported Portland stone by John Sisk Company.

The the architect Joseph Welland design the adjacent St Marys Church of Ireland Church, it was completed in 1862. The interior has Harry Clarke stained glass windows.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Heritage Centre

Nenagh Heritage Centre is housed in the former Governor’s house of Nenagh Gaol, this octagonal three storey building originally had seven cell blocks radiating from all sides, only one of which remains intact today.

The Governor’s house has a number of exhibitions on the gaol, local heritage and a genealogy service. The complex is entered through a strong gate house which was formally the site of public executions.

There is a permanent exhibition here on two brothers who were executed in 1858. The Mac Cormack’s were condemned to death for the murder of a land agent who had been involved in a number of evictions. They were posthumously exonerated and their bodys were reinterred from Nenagh Gaol to their native parish in 1910.

Governors House, Nenagh

Monday, 4 June 2012

About Nenagh Keep


Nenagh Castle & Grounds
Nenagh Castle can be counted as one of the finest examples of a cylindrical keep in Ireland. It forms the northern part of a pentagonal court, with two strong towers on each angle and a gatehouse on its southern side.

The keep, 30 metres in height and 20 feet thick at the base, along with the partial ruins of the gatehouse and one tower are all that have survived. The castle is the original settlement in the town. The Keep is due to be open to the public in summer 2012.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Nenagh Castle Time Line

1221 - Designed and constructed by the Norman Theobald FitzWalter, the first Butler of Ormond who dies before it's completion.
1336 - peace treaty signed in Castle between the O'Kennedy Clan and James Butler, 1st Earl of Ormond, treaty includes grants of lands for this Gaelic clan.
1347 - taken from the Butler's by Donal O' Kennedy. Held by the O'Kennedy Clan for two centuries.
1385 - James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond builds Gowran Castle, Kilkenny and establishes it as their principal seat, then in 1391 buy's Kilkenny castle and establishes it as their principal seat.
1533 - repossession of castle by Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond.
1548 - attacked by O'Carrol's, town and Franciscian friary burned.
1648 - captured by Owen Roe O'Neill and his Ulster Army during the Confederate War as they marched on Kilkenny following the Royalist and Confederate truce during the Confederate War. Castle is quickly wrested back by Lord Inchiquin for the Earl of Ormond.
1650 - The Parlimentarian Ireton captures the castle on his march on Limerick.
1688 - captured, lost and recaptured by the Jacobite Colonel Long Anthony O’Carroll who is serving under Sarsfield.
1690 - captured by the Williamite Dutch general Godert de Ginkell.
1692 - listed by King William of Orange for destruction, this is in order to permanently render it useless to opposing forces.
1750 - farmer named Newsome attempts to demolish the castle with explosives as sparrows nesting in the walls are destroying his crop. His attempts however only succeed in creating a large whole in the in the north wall of the keep.
1860 - The upper quarter of the castle added by Rev Michael Flannery the Bishop of Killaloe with the proposal that it would form part of a proposed new Roman Catholic Church for Nenagh. This idea is later abandoned and a separate location chosen nearby.
1963 - a scroll is presented to John F Kennedy during his state visit to Ireland, this scroll contained the 1336 peace treaty signed in Nenagh Castle.
1971 - First proposal of Nenagh Town Council for castle restoration
2006 - Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Dick Roche announces a €3 million Visitor Centre for Nenagh Castle. This scheme would involve the refurbishment of the castle and would incorporate two properties on Pearse Street to house an interpretative centre.
2012 - only the restoration of the keep and installation of four floors is completed due to funding constraints.

Nenagh Castle