- Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Debts force closure of Kells heritage centreELAINE KEOGH
THE CO Meath town which gave its name to one of the worlds most famous manuscripts, the Book of Kells, has become a heritage town without a heritage centre.
The doors of Kells heritage centres were closed to visitors yesterday, possibly for the last time, because of huge debts and insufficient revenue.
Its like pulling the heart out of a town, one local historian said yesterday, while Fáilte Ireland confirmed Kells was being heavily promoted as part of a new initiative promoting the depth of heritage in the Boyne Valley.
The centre, which was used as a courthouse until 10 years ago, was designed by Irish architect Francis Johnson and built in 1801. It is now damp and needs a new roof, according to the chairman of Kells Town Council.
The historic 9th-century High Cross, which used to be in the middle of the towns main crossroads, was relocated to just outside the centre after it opened and was a key visitor attraction.
It was unsuccessful in getting the original Book of Kells for exhibition, but has got one of the finest facsimiles of it.
While efforts are under way to resolve the situation, including looking at alternative premises for the centre, the chairman of the local town council Brian Curran said the figures for the current centre just dont add up.
He said 500,000 was outstanding on capital costs, and the centre had been running at a loss of 88,000 per year.
The roof now needs replacing at a minimum cost of 147,000, and the building needs to be relined because of damp. It is an old building and we tried to make it into a new building.
It is a lovely building, but we have not got the return. We have asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley, to meet us and intervene.
Local historian William Carr, a member of Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, said: The closure is a great loss to the town and to visitors. It has been a focal point for visitors . . . It is a meeting point and where you hear what is happening locally. It is like pulling the heart out of the town.
A spokeswoman for Fáilte Ireland, which has provided 800,000 to the centre, said it believed there were difficulties at the moment and was staying in contact with the Kells town clerk.
The centre is integral for tourism in the area. We recently developed an initiative promoting the depth of heritage in the Boyne Valley and Kells is heavily promoted in the Meath area.
This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times
Corrib Gas opponent's sunken boat foundÁINE RYAN
A FISHING boat which sank in mysterious circumstances off Erris Head, Co Mayo, in the early hours of June 11th last, has been located. Garda Chief Supt Tony McNamara said yesterday it was unlikely that the 12-metre Iona Isle, owned by a leading Corrib gas project opponent, will be salvaged.
He confirmed it had been located late last week after a Naval Service diving team identified the boats location off Erris Head.
The boat was located in very deep waters by the diving team but it is unlikely it will be lifted. Considerations are the very high costs involved, the fact there was no loss of life, together with the likely evidence that would be gathered, said Chief Supt McNamara.
The Iona Isle was one of a small fleet of crab-fishing boats owned by fisherman Pat ODonnell.
Mr ODonnell says in the early hours of June 11th, while guarding his fishing gear ahead of the arrival of the Shell-contracted pipelaying vessel, the Solitaire, his boat was boarded by four armed men.
He says two of the men held himself and crewman Martin McDonnell in the wheelhouse while two others went below. The men, who spoke with foreign accents, then steamed out to open sea. He says his boat subsequently sank, minutes after he and Mr McDonnell launched a life raft.
At the time, Shell EP Ireland said in a statement it emphatically rejected any allegation that people employed on the Corrib gas project were involved in any way in the incident.
Mr ODonnell said yesterday he was not surprised his vessel would not be salvaged. Of course I am disappointed. I was aware that any raising of the vessel would cost up to half a million euro, he said.
He said he was unable to claim through his insurance policy for the loss because the boat sank due to a terrorist act. A Shell spokeswoman said: Shell EP Ireland Ltd has no comment to make in relation to the possible retrieval of the Iona Isle. That is a matter between the gardaí and Mr ODonnell.
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- Some sense at long last.CarmelThe Irish Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Varadkar to review road and rail projectsTIM O'BRIEN
A REVIEW of spending on new road and rail projects has been announced by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.
Mr Varadkar said he will review each new transport infrastructure project against the need to ensure existing roads and rail routes are properly maintained.
The review follows the publication by the National Roads Authority of a new report which found almost 3 billion is needed to make the States local regional and national secondary road network safe.
The Ministers review could potentially halt key transport investment programmes including Metro North, the reopening of the Navan Railway line and new road building schemes in Clare, Galway, Longford and Wicklow, which were being progressed under the last governments four-year plan.
In a statement last night Mr Varadkar told The Irish Times: If we stuck to the plan left to us by the last government, not only would we be unable to keep up with the backlog of repairs, but the situation would actually get worse.
The Minister who has in recent weeks been briefed by senior officials on key issues facing the department is understood to be concerned after the National Roads Authority put the cost of the backlog of urgent repairs to the non-primary routes at 2.7 billion. This figure was in advance of the severe weather conditions at the start of the year.
Before we start work on any new infrastructure projects, we have to ensure that existing infrastructure is properly maintained. That is why I am conducting a full review of capital spending with a view to prioritising the investments that we already have, Mr Varadkar said.
Last night a press spokesman for Mr Varadkar said he could not say which projects would categorically not proceed but emphasised there had been a change in priorities and that the thinking was moving towards maintenance of existing roads and railways.http://www.petitiononline.com/taraeire/petition.html
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