Templeshannon link features new footbridge

By Dan Walsh

There is an urgency to progress ambitious plans for a new footbridge over the River Slaney linking east and west and bonding an integral part of the proposals for the redevelopment of the Templeshannon area of Enniscorthy.

A new pedestrian crossing in the shape of a footbridge will link east and west of the River Slaney in line with Slaney Street between the railway bridge and the ancient stone bridge at Enniscorthy when the Templeshannon Regeneration Scheme is completed.

Last Monday’s monthly meeting of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council featured a presentation on the Templeshannon Regeneration Scheme and it emerged that an application for funding the €15 million project has been confirmed.

Cllr Aidan Browne sought an update on the Templeshannon project and in reply it emerged that some of the old buildings will be removed and there are proposals to develop three urban blocks within Templeshannon for re-development to facilitate new commercial and economic development opportunities in the area.

Plans include a major public realm investment to improve accessibility and to make the area attractive to shoppers and visitors and the construction of a new pedestrian bridge to increase connectivity between Templeshannon and the Slaney Street area.

Cllr Cathal Byrne enquired if the pedestrian bridge crossing could be implemented immediately? It would bring accessibility to the swimming pool area, but he felt that there are “two sides to the town and both sides deserve to be funded equally.” Cllr Jackser Owens agreed with Cllr Byrne and said people on the Shannon side (of town) are sometimes forgotten. Cllr Owens is also calling for a new pedestrian crossing on Templeshannon Quay near the busy bus stop.

Courtown sea front changes are delayed

By Dan Walsh

Plans for the demolition of the derelict Bayview Hotel on Courtown’s sea front will be delayed until later in the year after Cllr Andrew Bolger sought an update on the ‘dangerous structure notice’ posted to the owner due to expire on August 31st.

The BAYVIEW HOTEL seen here in its dominant position on the sea front at Courtown Harbour will be demolished before the end of the year

Bayview Hotel was a landmark building to generations of visitors that evolved over the decades when it was owned by the McGarry family who set up in the business in 1926.

At the monthly meeting of Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District Council, chaired by Cllr Joe Sullivan, Cllr Pip Breen felt than an extension was needed as the holiday resort is very busy at the moment and it was not a good time to allow large trucks and diggers onto the site as it would be a health and safety issue.

Cllr Diarmuid Devereux agreed that Courtown was thronged these days and there is no way the work could commence in the month of August!

Cllr Sullivan said it would be “totally detached from the real world” to attempt the work now. He felt it was a ridiculous time frame and preferred to extend the date for commencement of the demolition work.

Cllr Donal Kenny alluded to health and safety issues and derelict buildings in Gorey town at Eire St and Railway Road that he described as “eyesores.”  Cllr Pip Breen noted that action was needed on the burned out Macamore Inn site at Ballygarrett and Cllr Willie Kavanagh raised concerns about a derelict premise in Oylegate village.

The Council agreed to contact Senior Executive Officer Tom Banville, who deals with derelict sites and invite him to address the September meeting with an update on derelict sites in the Gorey-Kilmuckridge district.

Pope accepts Bishop Brennan’s resignation

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Denis Brennan, in line with the existing protocol on reaching his 75th birthday, and the authorities in Rome have sanctioned the process of appointing a new Bishop of Ferns.

Recently, on Pentecost Sunday (May31st), Bishop Brennan celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood at Sunday Mass in Rathnure Church. There was no congregation present due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Many tributes were paid to Bishop Brennan on that special personal occasion, including a special message from Pope Francis which was read by the parish priest, Fr. Brian Broaders.
Son of Denis and Bridget Brennan, born in Springmount, in the parish of Rathnure, on June 20th 1945, he was ordained on May 31st 1970 at St Peter’s College, Wexford.
He was appointed to the House of Missions in 1970 and was the last Superior before it closed in 1992, but remained in Enniscorthy and became Administrator of St Senan’s Parish from 1986 until his appointment as parish priest of Taghmon in 1997.
Bishop Brennan was consecrated bishop on April 23rd 2006, becoming the  first Wexford priest to become Bishop of Ferns in almost 70 years. That was Bishop Wiliam Codd, the son of a shipwright from Wexford’s South Main Street, who was appointed on December 7th, 1917 and served for 21 years until his death on March 12th, 1938. He is interred in the grounds of St. Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy.

Gorey should become a ‘Sanctuary’ town

By Dan Walsh

Sanctuary Ambassadors embarking on a campaign to ensure better conditions for asylum seekers in Co. Wexford have recently finalised a manifesto and today won the unanimous support of members at the monthly meeting of Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District Council held under Covid-19 guidelines at Gorey Courthouse.

A six-member delegation from Courtown and Rosslare were given a warm Gorey welcome and each made a presentation outlining their own particular circumstances but the over-riding message was that asylum seekers, especially families, should not be in Direct Provision for more than one year, involvement in the decision making process and the right to employment.

It was stated that all emergency centres should be closed or changed to official Direct Provision Centres with agreed standards and provision as a matter of urgency and minimum standards of IT, study space, self-catering, children’s play areas and transport to local centres should be established immediately.

District Manager Michael Drea said there are over 200 asylum seekers in the county who wish to make their residency more stable. “They are welcome to come here today to communicate their stories and I feel Gorey should become a Sanctuary town.”

Rania, a computer science from Sudan, thanked the Gorey community for making us welcome. “We want to use our skills to benefit the community,” she added.

Patrick, whose background is in sales and marketing, was clear and articulate as he outlined his personal circumstances and his experiences of shortcomings in the present system. “I want to integrate into the Wexford community,” and he added: “I trust the Wexford community.”

Cllr Mary Farrell thanked the delegates for their contributions. “It is great to hear your stories and thanks for your stories.”

Cathaoirleach Cllr Joe Sullivan said the Direct Provision system should be done away with it as it was “not fit for purpose.” He welcomed the ambassadors and promised to help them integrate and become part of the community.

The Wexford Sanctuary Ambassadors consists of about 30 asylum seekers representing more than 200 others from the county. Since November they have been meeting monthly to develop skills in public speaking, working with the media and Irish history and politics. Their objective is to make a meaningful contribution to their host community of Wexford and the State of Ireland.

Last February Wexford-based TD Brendan Howlin offered a practical introduction to the voting system, and since then the Wexford Sanctuary Manifesto has been compiled and circulated to all political figures in the county as well as key national leaders.

Grandpad Tablets to support older citizens

What is that headline all about? One could be immediately confused that it refers to public health, and it does in some regard to the Covid-19 pandemic, but in the modern language it is all about technology and its place in the world of our older citizens.

The way we used to be! Nowdays our lives are made easier by the use of technology for all our citizens.

Wexford County Council has partnered with Wexford Home Instead Senior Care and a generous local benefactor who has sponsored 50 GrandPad Tablets for cocooning older people in the county. Technology can play an important role in reducing loneliness and isolation, enabling older adults to stay connected with loved ones and their caregivers, allowing them to live independently at home while following guidelines for avoiding exposure to the virus.

With built-in 4G connectivity, the Grandpad tablet comes complete with apps designed for older adults. The large, clearly labelled icons mean that video and voice calls, photos, email, music, games, news, weather and search functionality are easily accessed from the screen. The system also has an “auto answer” feature that can be enabled to allow calls from approved family members to automatically ring through, making the system more user friendly to answer calls, texts or emails.

The two-way video functionality has proven invaluable for users during Covid 19. They just love their Grandpads and many regards them as life-changing devices.

The Wexford Community Call helpline has been a successful initiative during the public health emergency. The service is available seven days per week between the hours of 9am and 5pm, with County Council volunteers working alongside local voluntary groups to provide a vital link between older citizens and the services they need including deliveries of grocery shopping and pharmacy items, or maybe just a friendly ear for the person living in isolation.

The Community Resilience Forum group meets regularly to ensure no-one is left out of the current strategies to help Wexford and its’ citizens recover from the impact of COVID 19.

Wexford County Council supports our older citizens during these difficult times, on the phone, online and out in the community. The Community Call phone number and our Customer Service Desk can be reached by dialling is 053 9196000.

Cable car link to Enniscorthy Castle

By Dan Walsh

A cable car connection from a new car and coach park located on the Turret Rocks, high above the River Slaney, to Enniscorthy Castle and the town centre is included in a €30 million proposal to transform Enniscorthy into a thriving economic hub and landmark tourist destination.

Members were supportive of the forward-thinking plans following a presentation by Wexford County Council’s Head of Special Projects, Brian Galvin, at today’s monthly meeting of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council held under Covid-19 guidelines at Kilcannon Garden Centre on the Old Dublin Road.

Mr Galvin described Enniscorthy Castle as being “in good condition” and “a very important asset” and is central to the Council’s plans for a redevelopment and enhancement programme that would include an adjoining visitor centre with retail and café facilities together with an audio-visual experience to re-imagine the historic beginnings of Enniscorthy.

Mr Galvin said the cable car idea is sustainable and Austrian experts believe it can work for Enniscorthy and it would be the only experience of its kind in this country. The members were given vision of the future when Santa Claus could arrive by cable car!

Developing Enniscorthy would be based on four ‘squares’ – Abbey Square, Market Square, St. Mary’s Church and Enniscorthy Castle. It was suggested that a fifth ‘square’ be added, but it was outlined that this suggestion was addressed under the Templeshannon Regeneration scheme.

Phase one, which is urged to get under way as soon the way is clear, focussing on the castle at an estimated cost of €8 million; Phase 2 is the European style Black Box or audio-visual experience with a café and associated tours and attractions, at an estimated cost of €9 million. And to complete the project the cable car experience would accomplish the transformation for another €13 million.

The presentation lasted an hour and members were unanimous in their support to the project. Deputy John Browne, who was an invited guest at the meeting, said Enniscorthy has the potential to be an international tourist centre.

Cllr John O’Rourke felt that the cable car idea had been discussed before. “The cable car will make Enniscorthy stand out and the next generation will be so high tech it is a step forward. It is a fantastic idea and should have been done long and ever ago.”

Cllr Aidan Browne described the project as “very interesting, very ambitious”. Cllr Cathal Byrne suggested that attracting 140,000 visitors a year “it needs to be ambitious” and while he agreed with ideas around the castle he felt strongly about the republican and rebel tradition such as 1798 and other rebellions. “The castle is not unique, but it has to be connected to the overall package,” he concluded.

Cllr Jackser Owens complained about the lack of facilities for visitors coming to Vinegar Hill. “No toilet facilities and no access for coaches.” Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan also felt the project was very ambitious but would be good for the town.

Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy chaired the meeting in her role as newly elected Cathaoirleach of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council.

Feel the buzz for native Irish bees

ONE of Ireland’s largest garden centre networks is calling on enthusiasts of all ages and all skill levels to take the Operation PolliNation pledge and be in with a chance to win a €2,000 pollinator-friendly garden renovation.

Take the Pledge! CountryLife wants the Irish public to take the Operation PolliNation pledge, help gardeners make their plots pollinator-friendly environments and show a little love for our native Irish bees. Pictured at the campaign launch were Naoise Coogan, her 12 year-old daughter, Siofra Coogan, and her mother, Therese O’Donovan. Picture: Patrick Browne

CountryLife is teaming up with the Irish public to help gardeners make their plots pollinator-friendly environments and show a little love for our native Irish bees – a third of which are threatened with extinction.

CountryLife Retail Marketing Manager, Grace O’Dwyer, says gardens countrywide have been a hive of activity during lockdown and many people are keen to make small changes to support our all-important pollinator friends and wildlife in general.

Experienced Horticulturalist with CountryLife, Malachy Doherty, said: “As much as one third of our bee species are threatened with extinction. We are asking the public to take the Operation PolliNation pledge and make small changes in their garden like sowing Irish-grown plants that bees prefer and you don’t need acres to play your part. You can plant pollinator-friendly containers, bulbs, trees or shrubs.”

The www.Countrylife.ie website and social media channels operated by the 14-branch, community-based garden centre network are swarming with tips, hints and ideas so that everyone can play their part in saving the bees. In Wexford, CountryLife has centres in Campile, New Ross and Bunclody.

The CountryLife team has a whole host of prizes on offer for those who sign up through https://blog.countrylife.ie/news-events/operation-pollination-take-the-pledge/ to ‘Take the Pledge’ and take part through their social media channels. Among them a €2,000 garden renovation, which also includes a garden consultation from an expert horticulturist.

Grim discovery in the sea off Courtown

By Dan Walsh in Courtown

The body of a woman recovered from the sea off Courtown Harbour this evening is identified locally as that of Deirdre Redmond, (50), who has been the missing for six days.

The search for missing Gorey woman Deirdre Redmond has been stood down this evening.

Courtown RNLI Lifeboat volunteers were launched at 4.50 pm following a call from the Irish Coastguard who made the discovery.

The body was taken ashore at the RNLI Station before removal to University Hospital Waterford where a post mortem will take place. The search for Deirdre has been stood down.

Deirdre Redmond left her home at Garden City, Gorey, last Saturday at 2 pm and did not return home. Gardai confirmed a last sighting of Deirdre on the Sea Road in Ballymoney later that day at 3.20 pm.

Hundreds of locals supported the family in a land search for Deirdre operating from Naomh Éanna GAA Club under the guidance of the local Gardai which extended from Gorey to the woodlands around Ballymoney and Courtown.

An intensive sea search has been taking place daily with Helicopter Rescue 117, the Irish Coastguard and the RNLI volunteers from Courtown and Cahore. As the week progressed the search extended from Curracloe to Kilpatrick with many volunteers using fishing boats and pleasure craft to assist.

Point-to-point action to resume soon

By Dan Walsh

The Covid-19 pandemic restrictions put an early end to the 2019-’20 point-to-point season where Wexford jockey and trainer, respectively, Barry O’Neill and Colin Bowe retained their national championship titles, but there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel with the announcement of the Autumn Fixtures list and an earlier than usual start to the new season in September.

The following fixtures are planned locally;

September 27th; Bree Hunt Club at Monksgrange, Rathnure

October 18th; Shillelagh & District Hunt at Fairwood, Tinahely

October 24th; Island Hunt at Courtown

November 8th; Wexford Hunt at Knockmullen House, New Ross

November 15th; Wicklow Hunt at Fairwood, Tinahely

November 22nd; Killinick Harriers at Lingstown, Tomhaggard

November 29th; Carlow Farmers Hunt at Borris House

Point-to-point action at Ballycrystal last January

Dr. Jennifer Pugh, Senior Medical Officer, Irish Horse Racing Board said; “While there remains a degree of uncertainty surrounding the ongoing Corona virus pandemic worldwide, I am confident that we will be able to hold point-to-point fixtures as scheduled under our Government’s guidelines.  

“Our sport lends itself to the principles of social distancing, being a non-contact sport, outdoors and with large sites available to use and we will endeavour to ensure Hunt Committees are supported to ensure a safe return of our sport,” she added. 

Florida firm establishes EU base in Wexford

By Dan Walsh

Good news in the south-east this week with the welcome announcement that Florida-based MTech Mobility (MTech), the global leader in lifecycle and repair services for mobile and IT devices, has leased a 1400m² facility at Ardcavan Business Park Wexford, to serve as its European base of operations.

Chief Executive of Wexford County Council Tom Enright described the announcement of 25 new jobs as very encouraging news for the county. “This welcome investment by global leader MTech demonstrates that, despite the considerable challenges facing our county, Wexford’s ability to attract Foreign Direct Investment continues to be very strong. It proves that we have the skills and the talent required for companies like MTech to set up here.”

JERRY WHISTON, General Manager Europe

Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council, Cllr Ger Carthy added “The Council is delighted to have had the opportunity to support IDA Ireland in successfully attracting MTech to County Wexford and I congratulate all at IDA Ireland on this success. I also want to wish Jerry Whiston and all the team in Wexford every success and I can assure them of the full support of Wexford County Council as MTech establishes itself here in Wexford in the months ahead.”

The location will be well-known locally having served as group support office of Sam McCauley Chemists is expected to create in excess of 25 jobs over the next three years, with job applications already invited via www.mtechmobility.com/mtech-europe.