Posted by in Features.

Overall Development Approach
Claregalway continues to make strides in the TidyTowns competition and in the overall presentation of this interesting albeit very busy centre. Your estimate of 33,000 cars per day is certainly bound to have a significant impact on all aspects of your daily lives. The very sizable, Corporate Business Park was well presented and admired on the approach. The spectacular sculptural installation on the Dublin Road is eye catching and well presented. We noted the fine stone name plate on approach roads which are suitably sited for optimum visibility. The delightful thatched cottage on the Galway Road caught the eye. We have a concern about the gap that exists between the road ‘tarmacd’ surfaces, as such and the pavement or wall. Experience would suggest that these areas if left untreated become receptacles for weeds, grass and in time litter as well. Discuss what can be done to ameliorate this difficulty with the authorities.

You are urged to give some time this winter to the preparation of a five or even three year programme of activities. This should set out your objectives, your priorities and identify those agencies with whom you will engage to achieve them. Be sure to add a time line to each – both start and finish dates – so that a realistic and real set of proposals emerge. Such a plan is useful in securing community engagement, agency support and also helps in sponsorship and necessary fundraising.

The Built Environment
The nine arch bridges is a delightful structure and was greatly enhanced by the hanging baskets. The castle, now virtually completely restored is a most significant landmark and compliments to all involved on this major success. The Franciscan Abbey, surrounding graveyard and car park are a delightful complex which was well presented. The explanatory sign at the carpark entrance was appreciated. The Dental Surgery and the foreground of SMA House, featuring extensive gardens were admired. Within the village, Summerfield Bar with its delightful thatch caught the eye. The sizable commercial premises, the hotel and Supervalu supermarket are colourful and well presented. The modern design catholic church at the junction is an interesting building well presented while the school was again an example of how to display such a building and grounds.

The wide welcoming approach roads have clearly received a considerable focus under this heading. The well tended grass, appropriate trees, shrubs and garden all give a pleasant softness to the area. The extensive difficulties and delays on occasions in bringing the River Walk Project to completion are noted. Hopefully progress will have been effective before next year’s competition. In the mean time, the range of flower tubs in the centre of the road add an agreeable splash of colour. The extent of maintenance work done around the Arch Sculpture and within the church itself is applauded. The designer’s description and rationale would be a worthwhile addition in the area. The famine stone near the school was admired.

Wildlife and Natural Amenities
The very extensive list of birdlife, mute swans, heron, blackbird, wood pigeon and many others identified by your consultant underscores the wonderful value that will be derived from the completion of the River Walk. Do continue to include the school children in the complying of information about the flora and fauna of the area, as in this way you will introduce a whole new generation to the joys of closer contact with the diversity of nature. Your plans to invite the four residential area committees to set aside an area as a nature reserve within their estates is commendable and the outcome will be watched with interest next year.

Litter Control
The wonderful statistic of 2011 – 4 skips, 2012 none – underscores in a very graphic way the progress you are making in changing the mindset of the community. You still have the problem of huge volumes of commuter traffic but even their behaviour is likely to be effected, beneficially, when they see the enhanced presentation of the roads as they pass through. Some litter was noted on the Sligo Road and very minor amounts on the Galway Road. Sadly some litter was noted in the grounds of the Franciscan Abbey itself.

Individual householders and the authorities generally have made a splendid leap forward in terms of the over presentation of Claregalway. However it is disappointing, to put it no stronger, to note that dumping continues in the delightful recess at the Franciscan Abbey carpark. The use of such a high profile location is wholly unsuitable for this purpose. It is suggested/requested that a flowerbed/rockery be devised for this sensitive location and a more appropriate setting for the disposal of the cemeteries no longer wanted material be located.

Waste Minimisation
Congratulations to the Educate Together school on securing its Green Flag. We noted the Energy Saving Shop on the Sligo Road and wish them well in their endeavours. There clearly has been a delightful response from the community to your enhanced emphasis on waste minimisation. To reduce, reuse and recycle is an excellent mantra and it has been used to good effect in Claregalway. Clearly individual householders and the community in general have taken these matters to heart and it is hoped that a similar approach will be forthcoming in respect of water usage.

Residential Areas
Keeping in touch with the residential groups helps to ensure that the task of keeping Claregalway in the best light possible is “subcontracted” to as many groups as possible. The decision of Cuirt Na hAbhann to assume full responsibility for their presentation having already paid maintenance fees to achieve this is noted. We admired the use of the large, weather beaten boulders as part of their communal grassed area presentation. Gleann Mhuirs is a very pleasant housing estate featuring well tended communal grassed areas while their trees are maturing pleasantly.

Roads, Streets and Back Areas
Having regard to the enormous volume of through traffic clearly your approach roads are of great importance. The neat and clean manner of the roads and pavements is a telling testament to your continuing efforts in this regard. The fine new pavement along the Dublin approach road has added greatly. The Arch Sculpture by Robert McColgan continues to mystify, stimulate and enthral – perhaps in equal measure – the many who contemplate it as they pass or while they wait for the traffic lights to change. The extended pavement on the Sligo Road was applauded; it was well swept, neat and orderly.

General Impression
Claregalway is for many a transit point. It is a pity that more people do not take the time to stop and study, examine, explore and appreciate this most interesting of locations. The completion of the castle, the attraction of the Franciscan Abbey and the likelihood of a very much enhanced riverside walk in the near future are very considerable assets which impact favourably on the overall presentation.

In the mean time, excellent attention has been given to the ongoing maintenance, presentation and enhancement of this intriguing location. All involved in this year’s presentation are applauded for their efforts.


  • Overall Development Approach 30 out of 50
  • The Built Environment 34 out of 50
  • Landscaping 35 out of 50
  • Wildlife & Natural Amenities 27 out of 50
  • Litter Control 32 out of 50
  • Tidiness 14 out of 30
  • Waste Minimisation 14 out of 20
  • Residential Areas 22 out of 40
  • Roads, Streets and Back Areas 31 out of 50
  • General Impression 7 out of 10

Total Score: 246 out of 400

(Last year’s total score: 238 out of 400)