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‘Ugly’ perspex cover replaced on Browne Doorway



The replacement of the “gross and ugly” perspex surround on the Browne Doorway has been welcomed by local independent councillor, Terry O’Flaherty.

Works have been completed and the surround which had lost all translucence when an attempt to clean the deteriorating protective casing turned it white and left the lower half of the historic structure hidden.

Cllr O’Flaherty said that she had been pressing for some time to have this work done and while she would have preferred the total removal of the surround, she believed that anything was an improvement.

“The replacement of the glass is only temporary until a permanent solution is found.

“It really took a lot of effort to get to this point and I have really been chasing after this for a long time – I have to say that I was ashamed of it the way it was,” exclaimed Cllr O’Flaherty.

Works carried out by Galway City Council included removing weathered material from around the monument and installing new, 10mm thick, clear polycarbonate sheeting.

Further works to the structure took place this week involving the re-polishing and cleaning of steel supports for the sheeting as well as the removal of staining utilising specialist product.

“The Browne Doorway is an iconic example of some of Galway’s finest architecture, dating back to the early 1600s. Unfortunately the structure has been deteriorating for some time resulting some years ago in it being surrounded by a perspex cage.

“Over time, the perspex had become badly weathered and ugly-looking and it has been standing out like a sore thumb at the top of Eyre Square – it had turned into an embarrassment.

“I was delighted to be informed by the Chief Executive of Galway City Council that the replacement of the perspex was underway and that the repairs to the steelworks would follow ,” said Cllr O’Flaherty.

The former Mayor said that the time had come to start working on the permanent preservation of what is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

A report last year outlined the necessity for funding to be set aside for the preservation of several historical structures – including the Browne Doorway as well as Menlo, Terryland and Merlin Park castles.

In Galway City Council’s budget for 2017, an allowance of €170,000 was made for this purpose – however, it is estimated that a total of €1.2million will be required to ensure their continued survival.

Cllr O’Flaherty said that the doorway should remain on Eyre Square given that it is a major attraction for tourists visiting the city.

“I was recently sitting in Eyre Square for a while and I observed the number of people taking pictures of the doorway and reading the plaque that is in front of it.

“By golly, if I have any say, it won’t be moved out of there – I feel that is where it should remain due to the fact that it is a great attraction for visitors.

“I think it should be given a railing, similar to the old railing in the Square and that a garden should be put in it – perhaps dedicated to all the literary giants that this city has produced,” she said.

The Browne Doorway dates back to 1627 when it stood as the entrance to the Browne ‘mansion’ in Abbeygate Street before it was moved to Eyre Square in 1904 by the Galway Corporation.

“We can’t just let it fall into total disrepair and we have a decision to make about its future – I know that will involve spending a lot of money, but we can’t just do nothing,” said Cllr O’Flaherty.


Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge



The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.

Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.

A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.

The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.

One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.

Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.

The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.

(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).

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Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.

Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).

Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.

He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.

The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.

At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.

And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”

Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.

Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.

He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.

The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.

“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.

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