A Vision for Ballyshannon
Do I sleep? do I dream?
Do I wonder and doubt?
Are things what they seem?
Or are visions about?
This is a crucial time in the history
of Ballyshannon, "the town that
Ireland forgot", as new efforts
are under way to plot a course for its
future, embracing community facilities,
housing, environment, culture and heritage,
economy, tourism, town centre, transport
Entitled "A Vision for Ballyshannon",
the drawing up of a new local area plan
has been entrusted to a company of consultants
located in Galway. The Donegal County
Council and the company are inviting
submissions from individuals and organisations
describing their vision for the future
of the town.
In the material which it is circulating,
the company states: "The new Local
Area Plan will cover a six year period
from 2003-2008." It is also seeking
a long-term vision for the future of
Under the heading "Promoting Prosperity"
it is stated:
"Although Ballyshannon has a strong
industrial heritage, the current industrial
sector within the town is relatively
small. Whilst there is a need to provide
for future industrial growth, some diversification
of the local economy in respect of the
service and tourism sectors would allow
for the creation of new opportunities
for the people of Bundoran and strengthen
its position as a town in the North
Like the proverbial curate's egg, the
concept is "good in parts",
and the other parts are outlined in
the preceding paragraphs.
1. A company of experts located in
another province, planners who will
not have to live with what they propose,
and company personnel who may be subject
to change at whim.
2. A narrow focus on the short term
of six years.
3. A concern for a neighboring town
(Bundoran) and the strengthening of
its position in the region.
Dealing with the first of these three
negatives, overall responsibility must
rest with the local authorities, Donegal
County Council and the Ballyshannon
As to the second, measures recommended
for implementation in the short term
of six years will have enormous consequences
for present and future generations of
the people of Ballyshannon.
On the third issue, seemingly introduced
as an afterthought, the good people
of Bundoran are quite capable of planning
their own future without being lumped
into a study primarily intended to foster
prosperity in Ballyshannon. The two
towns may have links, but that does
mean they share the same vision.
Now come the good parts. Individuals,
organisations, including commercial,
sports, arts, community groups, lay
and religious, are given an opportunity
to have input into the creation of the
vision. This is not confined solely
to present residents. All members of
the Ballyshannon diaspora, wherever
they live, can claim a voice on the
future of their home town. How they
may do so is laid out at the end of
What follows is one such submission.
The future of Ballyshannon will be
determined by one overriding issue,
the need for a new route for the proposed
by-pass road. For this the local council
and county council must take ultimate
responsibility, paying attention to
the strong opposition of the people
whose lives will be impacted the most.
Those whose lives will not suffer the
noise, the slicing apart of their neighbourhoods,
the social dissection involved, the
disruption created by underpasses, and
a myriad of other long term ill effects,
some of which may not become evident
for many years (vide the effect of the
ESB dams on the salmon fishery), those
fortunate people must not rejoice in
enjoying their own good fortune to the
detriment of their fellow townspeople.
The success achieved by the Anti-Pylon
campaign in another area of Donegal
should give heart to those campaigning
for a new by-pass route. Anyone seeking
further information on the subject may
find it on this web site in the article
at the Crossroads which appeared
on August 1, 2001, and in a subsequent
The rehabilitation of the Erne River
must be a priority, involving both the
Twenty-Six County and Six County authorities,
anglers, environmentalists and other
stake holders. They deserve recognition
and support in any vision for the future
The present tailrace from the power
station at Cathleen's Falls should never
be described as a river. It was constructed
as a tailrace, and a tailrace it remains,
polluted in parts.
Some of the suggestions which follow
are based on historical and personal
perspectives. Some stem from experience
gained while working and living in other
countries. Many, no doubt, will duplicate
those already made by persons much more
qualified in specialised areas of expertise.
All are offered in the hope that they
may stimulate discussion and prompt
others to offer their visions for the
future of Ballyshannon, which retains
a special place in the hearts of all
fortunate enough to have had the experience
of living life in that kindly spot,
that friendly town.
1. Rerouting of the proposed by-pass
road to allow for river rehabilitation.
2. Preservation and extension of Sminver
Stream to allow for rehabilitation of
Atlantic wild salmon stock.
3. Use of Market Yard for centralised
4. Helicopter and light aircraft sight-seeing
5. Provision of halting site(s) for
travellers on outskirts.
6. Inis Saimer and harbour annual sound
and light programmes.
7. Staging of international two-week
8. Public loudspeaker system to broadcast
evening music recitals, both recorded
and live. Preference to be given to
9. Scheduled walking tours employing
youth guides throughout the summer.
10 Greater use of Internet to publicise
attractions, scenic, arts, and industrial
11. Greater emphasis on links with
Rossnowlagh, its strand and Friary.
12. Feasibility study on construction
of suspension bridge just below or above
Cathleen's Falls dam, in conjunction
with adjusted route for by-pass road.
13. Development of niche markets for
14. Competition to produce and market
specialised Ballyshannon food product,
cake, or dish.
15. Unity of townspeople in backing
Finally, the e-mail address for submissions
to be forwarded regarding "A Vision
for Ballyshannon" is email@example.com
For persons wishing to submit submissions
by post the address is:
The Planning Department
Donegal County Council
Attention: Ms. Gaye Moynihan
All submissions should be clearly marked:
Ballyshannon Local Area Plan.
Telephone callers may reach Ms. Moynihan
at 074 72222.
The consultants are Colin Buchanan
& Partners Ltd., 10 Quay St., Galway.
Tel. 091 539805. Contact person: Ailish
Please take the time to let your views
Procrastination Irks Residents
Twice delayed, Bord Pleanala's decision
on the route of the proposed Ballyshannon
by-pass has been postponed for a third
Local inhabitants have been thwarted
in efforts to learn their fate.
Originally anticipated being made public
at Easter, the decision was put back
until the holding of a General Election,
which took place on May 18. A further
three-week delay has since been announced.
The repeated delays have irked local
groups and individuals who made submissions
calling for a re-routing of the proposed
route, and have led to growing speculation
The Chairman of the Ballyshannon Town
Council, Mr. Pat O'Malley, who is also
spokesperson for CRASH (Concerned Residents
Against Super Highway), has stated:
"We are concerned about the delay.
Either they are going to give permission
to go ahead or they are not. Or is there
some other thing happening in the background
that we don't actually know about?"
He might well have quoted Bret Harte's
Are things what they seem?
Or are visions about?
| Canadian Vindicator