By Declan Varley, Galway Advertiser
Claregalway enters this Christmas in a vein of great confidence with a space of new developments changing the face of the village over the past few months.
The new Coláiste Baile Chlair has been completed and the associated roadworks near it have altered the look of the village.
The winding narrow road down to the community centre has been replaced by a new modern road with excellent lighting and pedestrian facilities.
New sets of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings will ensure that the hundreds of pupils who will use it every day will do so in safety and comfort, although there are some rumblings on how these will impact on traffic in the area.
To top this all, the local GAA club are about to open a new handball alley newly built on the grounds of the community centre, creating a whole new look to that end of the village.
At the other end of the village, the massive flood relief works at the bridge in Claregalway are underway and this will bring great ease of mind to local homeowners who lived in dread of the great floods of the early part of this decade and last winter.
So all the signs are positive in Claregalway – its local drama group Compántas Lir ends the year as All Ireland champions having won the title at the All-Ireland Final last April and they are currently preparing their three-act play (The Birds by Conor McPherson) with which they hope to go on to win the All-Ireland Open Finals to be held in Athlone in May.
The advent of Claregalway Castle has also brought the village back into the wider consciousness. During the spring and summer and autumn, fetes, festivals and even medieval combat fighting has ensured that this fantastic facility brings major crowds to the area.
How wonderful it is to hear the sights and sounds and smells emanating from the varied events at one of the oldest venues in the region. How wonderful it is to see light from its windows as you travel through the village at night, especially for those old enough to remember it as a ruin less than a few decades ago.
And this will continue next week when the annual Christmas Fair at the castle will be held, It is such a wonderfully festive event, you just have to get along and support.
With a fine selection of shops, hotels, cafes, and eateries, Claregalway is on the up. And the good news is that there is much more to come as soon as these developments are complete.
Local politicians are being lobbied to ensure they finally deliver the much needed playground. With work continuing on the M18 Tuam to Gort motorway with completion due inside 15 months, traffic through the village is set to decline.
With the best of all worlds for residents in terms of access, facilities and fun, one can see why Claregalway is a truly happening place that has worked hard to develop itself.
In this regard, it shares the Advertiser’s buy local ethos that by keeping your business in Claregalway, you are keeping Claregalway in business, Claregalway is a model for other villages to follow despite adversity such as traffic and flooding. It has worked hard over decades to build a quality of life while maintaining the village feel.
For that, it deserves the support of us all this Christmas.