INTERCONNECTOR DAY27

­­­­­­­­DAY TWENTY-SEVEN

This section dealt with the Baile Phib Gaeltacht near Navan, Co. Meath

Three submissions were made to the hearing in Irish concerning the importance of the Baile Ghib Gaeltacht in Co. Meath and how it could be affected by EirGrid’s interconnector plan. Questioned by a local resident, a consultant archaeologist for EirGrid confirmed that the power lines would at one point near Oristown pass over the route of the Tain Bó Cuailgne march.

Uinsionn O Gairbhi a local resident explained the history of the area. This Gaeltacht was founded in 1937, when twenty Irish-speaking families were moved from the west coast of Ireland under the Land Commission. Each family received a house, 22 acres, farm animals and implents in exchange for land and property in their native county. Baile Ghib was eventually given official Gaeltacht status, along with Ráth Cairn in 1967.

Mr O Gairbhi said young children from Dublin, Navan, Kells and Drogheda came to the area to learn Irish. If the pylons and power lines were erected they would constitute a danger zone that would have to be avoided. These dangerous wires must be put underground, he said, so that the health of people would not be in danger and they would not interfere with the beauty of the area.

Athboy resident Cathal Seoige a former member of Údarás na Gaeltachta said Baile Ghib was full of heritage and history. He also called for the high voltage lines not to go through the area and insisted they should be placed underground.

Máire Nic an tSithigh also called on EirGrid to put the interconnector underground and said this would be the best solution for our language and heritage.

EirGrid Project Manager Aidan Geoghegan said that after considering the technical, environmental and economic aspects they considered that an underground HVDC cable would not be appropriate. He said there had been 400kV overhead lines in Ireland for the past thirty years. They were very reliable and performed well even in bad weather.

Consultant archaeologist for EirGrid Declan Moore said the overhead lines would have no direct physical impact on the Táin route and it was not a registered recorded monument. In answer to Maura Sheehy he revealed that the Táin route would pass under the proposed development close to Oristown.

This section involved landowners and groups from Co. Monaghan

BERNIE RUTH, Secretary of the Corduff Raferagh Heritage Group explained that it was set up in 2000 to share, preserve and archive the local heritage. She was sure the professionals from EirGrid had exmined the myriad of maps available to them to check for any archaeological sites of interest. But what they did not have was local knowledge, local interest and local passion, which their voluntary group had.

There was a cillín in Corrinenty, an unmarked burial ground for unbaptised children, in very close proximity to the planned line and a pylon. There were Mass rocks in Greaghlatacapple and Umerafree, and Mass was celebrated annually at Greaghlatacapple, which would be within view of many of the pylons. There were many more places of interest to them—the locals—within the area.

Each year they held a number of heritage walks around the townlands, pointing out items of local history and gathering information from local people. Currently they were recording and photographing old structures like buildings, gates, piers and bridges. Quite often the pictures were impeded by the current ESB or telephone poles. What would it be like with pylons and heavy lines?

The group was planning to re-establish the old Mass path on Corduff mountain, with a viewing area on the summit where you can see as far as Cavan, Louth, Meath and Armagh. But with the possibility of viewing more pylons than scenery, this project might have to be abandoned.

The heritage group, like the majority of their neighbours, were ordinary people, living ordinary lives. They had no objection to progress but hoped that An Bord Pleanála and EirGrid used common sense and buried the lines, not only in the interest of preserving the beautiful drumlin landscape and their heritage,but most importantly their future mental and physical health.

She said that she lived two fields away from one of the proposed pylons, on a narrow country road that was used by many people for their daily recreational walk. She did not think there was any person who had come to this hearing over the past 26 days, no matter which side of the room they were on, who would let their children, siblings, parents or any family member live under or near these pylons or lines, no matter what the experts said. The experts did not always get it right, she added.

Bernie Ruth said that to allow the project go ahead as planned when there was an alternative would be a shame and a disgrace to each and every person present at the hearing. It was now time to use common sense and to bury the lines, not our people.

JAMES BANNINGAN, Tossey, Secretary of Lough Egish Gun Club, said three or four of the proposed towers and the power line would be highly visible from the main road between Lough Egish and Castleblayney. He expressed concerns about the possible leakage of silt from construction sites into the lake.

There were dangers for fly fishermen who were fishing near power lines, he said. He was worried about the possible effects on angling tourism.

SEAMUS QUINN, Cooltrim Egish, said EirGrid wold never be allowed into his land and he hoped they did not get planning permission. One of the proposed pylons wold be right in front of his house, he said.

GABRIEL WARD, Tooa, referred to the flora and fauna and wildlife in the former Shantonagh House estate. The woodland contained various types of trees including oak, ash and hazel. A lot of people went for walks in the area, which also contained two old flax mills. Bats had been known to roost in the area.

The following landowners were represented by NIGEL HILLS, who questioned EirGrid on their behalf: Roy Brown, Eamonn Kerr, Philip McDermott, Enda and Rose Duffy, Margaret O’Neill, Peadar McSkeane, Joe Boylan, Kevin Duffy and family, Patrick and Sarah Duffy, Hugh and Bernadette Duffy, Colman and Patricia Ryan, Eileen Smyth, Eamonn McNally, Gene Connolly, and Jim and Mary Connolly. He raised their concerns about access routes, pylon locations, the lack of consultation, health and safety, farm impacts, land and property devaluation, development restrictions, and the effect on flora and fauna.

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