Galway's iconic Eyre Square fountain becomes a protected structure

Councillors call for plaque explaining what it is

Galway city councillors have this week voted to include the Galway hooker fountain in Eyre Square in the city's Record of Protected Structures, amid calls to erect a plaque explaining the significance of the structure.

The hooker sails were designed by renowned architect and sculptor Éamonn O'Doherty as part of a fountain erected to mark the quincentenary of Galway's incorporation as a city in 1984. However the fountain under the sculpture is no longer functioning.

A number of councillors expressed concern that the fountain had fallen into disrepair, while its significance to the city was being forgotten.

Cllr Frank Fahy said the underground pump for the fountain was not working, and expressed concern that the structure was not being protected from vandalism. "It has been grafittied, if we can't protect it with cameras I don't know how we're going to protect it," he said.

Cllr Fahy also pointed out that visitors to the city who are unfamiliar with the shape of a hooker's sails had no idea what the sculpture was supposed to represent.

Cllr Niall McNelis asked that a plaque be included with the fountain to explain the structure.

Deputy Mayor of Galway Pearce Flannery, meanwhile, suggested that the fountain be moved to the roundabout in Salthill if it was not protected. "Wherever it goes, I'd like to see it in Salthill, but it's lost there [in Eyre Square]," he said.

Helen Coleman of Galway City Council's planning department said the structure was of huge significance and value to Galway, commemorating the quincentenary of the city and reflected the city's maritime heritage.

"With respect, then, there should be a plaque there," Cllr Fahy added.

Councillors ultimately voted to include the fountain in the Record of Protected Structures. The councillors also voted to include the statue of Fr Tom Burke on Fr Griffin Road in the RPS.

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