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Extract from article by John Donohoe Published in the Meath Chronicle

DUNBOYNE Castle has had many different roles since it was constructed in the mid-18th century. Once the home of the Lords Dunboyne, it has housed the Catholic bishop of Cork, the Good Shepherd sisters, employees of Kepak and the Morrogh-Ryan family.
Now, in the 21st century, the castle has a new lease of life following its dereliction of recent years. The first phase of Dunboyne Castle, the residential development which will adjoin the luxurious 121-bedroom hotel, has just been launched by Menolly Homes, the Seamus Ross-owned construction company, and Sherry Fitzgerald New Homes.
The contemporary and stylish development involves the restoration of the historic original building and addition of the 121-bedroom extension. There is a two-storey stable building scheduled to become 10 apartments, and along with conference and meeting facilities, there will be a banqueting hall and destination spa. The hotel will be facilitating the Ryder Cup next year, taking place in the nearby K Club across the Kildare border.
A substantial part of the Dunboyne Castle grounds is also being given over to community recreation and education use, including GAA and athletics.
Seamus Ross eventually got to build Dunboyne Castle after a long haul through the planning process which saw the development appealed to An Bord Pleanala and an oral hearing taking place last year. Built in the mid-18th century, the last of the Butler family, Lords Dunboyne, to live there, was John Butler, Catholic Bishop of Cork.
He caused a sensation by turning Protestant and marrying in a vain attempt to produce an heir. It was during the last years of his life that he lived here and it was in Dunboyne that the child was born but did not survive. Before his death, the house was leased by him to a James Hamilton, who was on the other extreme altogether, as he is reputed to have fathered 36 children.
After his death, a legal battle took place between the trustees of Maynooth College and his family, and the property was divided between the two parties. The Butlers finally sold it in 1870 and it then changed hands a number of times. George Beamish paid 7,250 pounds for the castle and 121 acres in 1870. The property then passed to the Mangan family who, in turn, leased it to the Koenig family, Germans with large wine and hotel interests. It was subsequently leased to the Murrogh Ryans.
John Murrogh Ryan was a very famous polo player and he and his wife lived in the castle until after World War II. The Garveys and Wachmans later lived in it before the North-Eastern Health Board purchased it and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd established a home there. In 1991, Noel Keating of Kepak bought the property.
The estate once provided employment for generations of Dunboyne people and there was a time when 40 men were employed to look after the gardens. The ornate bridge at Castleview is one of the few remaining features of the demense. Now, purchasers of Dunboyne Castle homes will be able to say their home is their castle.

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Rail Link To Dunboyne

A PLANNED rail line serving the gridlocked commuter belt between Meath and Dublin is economically viable, €156m, a major Iarnrod Eireann study has found.

The line would run from Clonsilla in Dublin to north of Dunboyne, where it is planned a major park-and-ride site would service commuters from Navan, Dunboyne, and Dunshauglin.

The study, presented yesterday to a steering group comprising the Dublin Transportation Office and Meath and Fingal county councils, says the cost would be €156m - made up of €68m for infrastructure, €40m for property and land acquisition and €48m for the cost of trains.

The feasibility study says the project "would at best cover its direct operating costs and would not generate profits to fund financing or depreciation costs.

"However, when wider economic social benefits are taken into account (time savings, accident savings, environmental benefits, decongestion benefits etc), the project yields a positive rate of return and is economically viable."

The former Clonsilla-Navan railway line, which branches off the Dublin-Maynooth line, was closed in 1963 and Iarnrod Eireann no longer owns the land.

With the rapidly growing commuter belt, consultants for the Government's Strategic Rail Review of 2003 concluded there was no economic case for reopening the entire line to Navan.

However, the shorter section from Clonsilla to Dunboyne (M3) was not considered, and was the focus of the Iarnrod Eireann feasibility study.

The proposed line from Clonsilla to the M3 interchange at Pace is 7.5 kilometres in length.

Three stations are proposed at Hansfield, Dunboyne and a major park-and-ride facility at the M3 interchange. The service frequency proposed is every 15 minutes at peak and every 30 minutes off-peak.

The rail line would cater for thousands of commuters in the Meath area, who are currently stuck in traffic jams on the gridlocked N2 artery into the city.

The report says the new rail line could be up-and-running within five years. It would be funded by direct Exchequer cash and levies on developers in the region.

The project could not finance itself from operating profits, and would have to be funded externally.

"Whilst there is little scope for public-private partnership, there is significant potential for private sector contributions through development levies in both Fingal and Meath Co Council."

Land required for railway purposes adjacent to planned developments should be ceded free to the project, the report says. But it warns that development of the line is dependent on additional city-centre capacity. The Connolly-Pearse central corridor is at capacity, and no additional services, including this proposed service, could operate without resolution of this.

The proposal is being sent to Transport Minister Martin Cullen for approval.

Labour councillor and planning chairman of Meath Co Council, Dominic Hannigan, said the study showed the scheme would be of major benefit to Meath residents and to the country at large.

"The rail link has a rate of return of 10pc, which is twice the rate at which the Government can borrow money. This is an excellent return for any rail project. It's a no-brainer; the current Government should be able to see that.

"This is a positive move forward. However, given the pressure Meath's commuters are under, a Navan-Dublin rail link is essential. This is just the first stop in our campaign to reopen the line as far as Navan.

"We need to be promoting public transport in Meath, so that hard-pressed commuters have an alternative way of getting to work in the capital."

Treacy Hogan
Environment Correspondent - Irish Independent

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Local Election Costs for Meath County Councillors (As published in the Meath Chronicle)

CANDIDATES in last June’s local elections spent over s300,000 in their attempts to get elected, according to returns filed to Meath County Council under the Local Elections Act of 1999.

Both elected and unsuccessful candidates had to make a statement of election expenditure for the 11th June polling day. Fifty-nine of the 62 candidates for Meath County Council made their returns.

Money spent on advertising, publicity, posters, office and stationery, transport and travel and market research, as well as campaign workers, had to be disclosed. Candidates were also asked to identify the source of income, and declare any individual donations exceeding s634.48.

There is no limit to the amount that can be spent on a local election campaign. A number of councillors and candidates spent a great deal of their own money, while others relied on party funds, while some didn’t get any support from their parties at all.

The highest spender was Dunshaughlin area Fianna Fail councillor Oliver Brooks, who spent s21,040.60 on his campaign, of which s2,520.60 was from his own resources.

The lowest amount spent was by Deirdre Reynolds of the Green Party, who declared s125, and her party colleague Carole Doherty, who spent s60 more.

The big spenders were mostly in the Dunshaughlin area - Colr Nick Killian (FF) spent s13,197; unsuccessful John Fanning’s (FG) campaign bill was s11,418.78, Colr Charles Bobbett (FG) spent s9,487.27 and Ellen Cogavin (FG), who also failed to be elected, spent s9,360.81.

Outside of Dunshaughlin, east Meath Independent councillor Dominic Hannigan is the other obvious big spender, with s15,186, or s16.72 per first preference vote. Colr Joe Bonner of Ashbourne listed a donation of s840.95 from BS Parts Ltd, North Road, Donaghmore, who paid for posters.

Progressive candidate Sirena Campbell listed a s2,000 donation from Pat Fallon, property developer, Minnistown, and Shane Cassidy, a Labour candidate, listed a s1,500 donation from his parents, Aidan and D Cassidy, Julianstown.

Colr Jimmy Cudden (Ind) raised s6,000 in a race-night and Colr Tommy Reilly (FF) lists two donations. He received s1,000 from a company listed as Meath Potatoes, Lobinstown, Navan, and s1,000 from Eamon Hopkins, which was transferred to the Navan Fianna Fail account. Colr Tommy Grimes, Kells, listed a s1,600 donation for posters from his sister, Lil Brady.

An entry on Colr Bryan Reilly’s declaration mentions bank charges and interest of s43.67. Labour candidate in the Trim area, Pat Holton, lists a Bank of Ireland loan of s5,000 as his other source of income. In the cases where other resources are listed, they are usually funds supplied by the various political parties.

Individual parties also declared separate expenditure: Labour s1,884; Fianna Fail s10,132.01 and Fine Gael s2,328.50.

Three candidates failed to make returns, Fianna Fail failed east Meath candidate Gerard Reid, Keith Emmett of Sinn Fein and John King of Labour. The penalty for them is that they’re disqualified from membership of a local authority, including co-option, until the next election.

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Huge Housing Scheme Overturned by Planning Board

(As published in the Irish Independent)


A LARGE scale housing development with sports facilities for the Dunshaughlin area has been refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanala because of the adverse effects it could have on traffic, flooding, and current residents.
Meath Co Council had earlier granted permission for the building of 894 two, three, and four-bedroom homes, together with three shops, two soccer pitches, three tennis courts, and a creche.
An Taisce appealed the decision.
An Bord Pleanala overturned the permission and said the housing project would "materially contravene" the Dunshaughlin Development Plan.
The board said the proposed housing development was "premature" until the by-pass for the village was built.
Other criticisms included the failure of the development to provide for a multi-purpose sports hall, as required by the development plan.
The board also said it was not satisfied that the development would not cause flooding because the application failed to indicate if drainage ditches and streams had the capacity to cater for surface water from the site - particularly "as the site exhibits poor soakage capacity".
The failure of the developers to provide public footpaths and lighting in certain areas was also criticised the board.
The density of the development was too low to present a sustainable use of serviceable land in a possible future rail corridor, the board held.
Criticism was also made of the absence of a central focus, or "heart", to the scheme due to the "utilitarian character of the public open space" and the lack of pavements and cycle paths connecting one area with another.
Grainne Cunningham

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