Declan Ganley revives plan for bar complex close to Tuam

Telecoms entrepreneur intends to redevelop Derreen Inn site with additional facilities

Declan Ganley plans to create the Edmund Burke facility, named after the Catholic emancipator whom he has long admired, close to his Moyne Park estate in Abbeyknockmoy, Co Galway. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Prominent telecoms entrepreneur Declan Ganley is reviving a plan to redevelop a pub and restaurant close to his estate near Tuam in east Galway.

The businessman, who owns US-Irish communications technology group Rivada Networks, is finalising fresh plans for the old Derreen Inn pub just off the N63, close to the end of the driveway of his Moyne Park estate in Abbeyknockmoy.

Mr Ganley, a known teetotaller, acquired the pub in 2016 and lodged plans the following year to redevelop it into a new venue, the Edmund Burke, named after the historical conservative figure and Catholic emancipator whom Mr Ganley has long admired.

The estimated €2 million project was to include a new bar and restaurant, commercial units and a four-storey tower with private accommodation. However, that scheme was refused in June 2017 by planners in Galway County Council after the State roads agency, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), objected shortly before the deadline.


Traffic impact

It raised concerns over the potential impact on traffic movements on the N63 and the safety of the venue’s access points to the main road, which has a 100km per hour speed limit at that point. The planner’s report recommending refusal cited TII’s concerns as a factor.

Now, Mr Ganley has revealed a new set of designs for the proposed venue, which he expects to submit to the council in the "coming months". He has hired Irish architect Conor Lynch, who works for British firm ADAM Architecture, to redesign the scheme.

It includes a bar and restaurant, a drive-thru coffee shop that Mr Ganley says will suit its rural location and not look like it has been “parachuted in from Milton Keynes”, and a farm shop on the site of the nearby old district court building.

The new scheme also proposes to build a thatched wooden bandstand and a memorial to Galway-born soldiers who died fighting for Allied forces in the first World War. These elements would be located on a 42-acre site bordered by a stream to the rear of the main building.

‘Labour of love’

That area may also include paddocks of native breeds of cows and sheep that would have been traditionally farmed in the area. Mr Ganley also raised the possibility that part of the 42 acres could be used as an amenity site with public access.

“We are going to go again,” he said. “This project is a labour of love. It is one of my ‘notions’, as my mother might have said.”

Mr Ganley says the proposed new design addresses the TII’s previous concerns about vehicular access and traffic safety, and the road frontage is “a lot wider”.

“When you take in all the elements – the bar and restaurant, the war memorial, the farm shop and the bandstand and the 42-acre site – it should make it into a proper destination and a focal point for the community,” he said.

Mr Ganley said he isn’t in a hurry to redevelop the site and “it won’t be done this year”. But he anticipates a pre-planning meeting with the local council as soon as its resources allow, and for an application to be submitted “before the summer is out”.

Rivada Networks last week revealed plans to launch an estimated €4 billion system of 600 satellites into space to create a global wholesale broadband network.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times