Posted by in Features.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I live in the centre of Claregalway village (Lakeview Estate). On 2nd of August 2004 (August Bank Holiday) I walked from where I live to the 40 mile speed limit side at both ends of the village on the N17. This is what I saw on the footpaths and hard shoulders.

Walking from the village to the speed limit on the Tuam side:

  • Temporary signs
  • A large blue sign nailed to a pole: Car Wash €5.
  • The Abbey Restaurant—Under New Management leaning against wall.
  • In front of Nicos there are three site signs nailed to a pole.
  • A pole that has no apparent function has rotting site notices nailed to it.
  • Game Preserved Claregalway and District Gun Club on a pole.
  • Large sign propped against wall: Escape Leisure Club membership.
  • On next pole: Land Preserved Claregalway Gun and Leisure Club.
  • On the bridge there is one rusty sign that can’t be read.
  • Two signs stating that Landowners Own Their Own Fishing Rights.
  • Sign saying Claregalway and District Fishing Club—Members Only.

Turning at speed limit sign and coming back on the other side of the road (western side of N17) there are the following signs:

  • West-on-Track.
  • 24 Hour ATM at Centra (a piece of this is broken off).
  • Three auctioneers signs point towards Cloonbigeen.
  • This side of the bridge matches the other with two signs for Keep-out Landowners own their own fishing rights and Claregalway and District Fishing Club—Members Only.
  • Avoid the Traffic Jam—Galway Bay FM.

Poles in the area opposite the Summerfield Bar are festooned with signs:

  • 19,20,21,22 Taste Buds café/restaurant.
  • Galway County Show Clarenbridge 19 + 20 June.
  • Taste Buds again.
  • A homemade sign Car Wash €5 is held against a pole with half a cement block.
  • Another homemade sign, iron and cement blocks, is about 5 × 5 ft. This is for Torque Racing Car Accessories Including Alloy’s.
  • 27 Taste Buds again.
  • Puddles Day Care Centre.
  • Ballinrobe Races (church car park)
  • Ice-Rink @ Galway Racecourse (These signs continue all the way in to Galway city)

Returning from the speed limit sign on the city side of the village:

  • Galway County Show in Clarenbridge sign has had half of it burnt off.
  • Three signs on one pole: Ice-Rink @ Galway Racecourse faces town, Royal Villa Restaurant faces field and Taste Buds (torn) faces village.
  • 36, 37 Next pole has an Ice-Rink @ Galway Racecourse sign on one side and a half-burnt Taste Buds on the other.
  • At junction 3 ft × 6ft: Dance Dance Dance Galway Bay Hotel… till 2am.
  • Taste Buds.
  • Puddles Day Care Centre.
  • Free standing sign on footpath for Bewleys Coffee, etc.
  • Off-licence Open ’til 11pm. stuck to fixed sign with sellotape; likely to blow off.
  • Sign blown down and left at church entrance: Point to Point Races, Athenry (wildly out-of-date).

So, there is a total of 43 temporary signs in this small village.

Every pole has plastic tabs from old removed notices; one pole has seven tabs. The general appearance of the paths and hard shoulders is very dirty. The paths have been cleaned in some areas, mostly by adjacent residents, but 6–12 inches of sand margins and grit will allow regrowth of weeds. Where the County Council has sprayed weeds they are now rotting or dead; this allows all the rubbish deposited to be seen more easily.

The hard shoulder areas are almost all absolutely filthy including outside a large building site where the top of the old stone wall and inside the stone wall are being used as bins. Rubbish seen through the village includes milk and drink cartons (from take-away restaurants in Galway city), drink cans, cigarette butts and empty packages, plastic forks, pizza boxes, crisp bags, hub caps, cement bags, plastic bags, a blanket, paint tins, box from Toner cartridge, plastic sandwich boxes, a jacket, gardening gloves, miscellaneous bits of cars including a number plate (S3 MEM Beechlawn Motors), an exhaust pipe, a yellow car bumper. Two litter bins at the Nine Arches bridge are overflowing.

There is a bus stop: there are large pot holes on the hard shoulder where the bus pulls in. Passengers must stand on grass cut by resident or on overgrown grass. The hard surface at the stop would accommodate one passenger.

In the past six months, I have driven to Sligo, Dundalk, Dublin, Wexford and Cork and have not seen a dirtier village or town on any of those journeys.

At both ends of village an official sign welcomes people to Claregalway in three languages. The dirt is hardly welcoming! A league table for the dirtiest place in Ireland would surely put Claregalway very near the top of the list.

People living in Claregalway are much the same as everywhere else. They like to keep their houses and gardens well and would like the general area to be pleasant and attractive. There is a very high community spirit. However, there’s not much that local people can do about the state of the village. Thousands of vehicles pass through each day. Volunteers are not likely to risk life and limb and breathe exhaust fumes to clean up the village. This is a job that needs serious attention by the County Council.

The litter and dirty appearance of the road sides was very much in evidence before, during and after Galway Race week in the full view of thousands of visitors using the N17 as the main route to Galway from the north of Ireland.

I came to live in Claregalway in 1972 when it was a very attractive rural village. The appearance of the area has gone downhill steadily since, despite efforts by the Amenity Group and some local residents.

It is surely time for the Council to sort out this mess. All temporary signs should be removed and prohibited. The paths and hard shoulders should be cleaned up and left in a state that is not likely to allow for regrowth of weeds and accumulation of rubbish. This situation should not have to wait for special grants or “discretionary” funding by individual Councillors. It should be basic maintenance by the County Council.

Yours faithfully,
Madeleine Flanagan
cc: Counillors: Mary Hoade, Jarlath McDonagh, Jim Cuddy, Fidelma Healy Eames.

Update—The Council’s reply: