Galway City Council is considering funding for the bridge under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund. This decision is enthusiastically welcomed by community and environmental groups that have been advocating for this development for many years," said Mr Smith.
The construction of a bridge on top of the old railway pillars will allow the Dyke Road to become the terminus for the Connemara Greenway that will follow a route to Clifden along the old railway line through some of the most picturesque landscapes in Europe.
This Greenway initiative fits in nicely to a specific urban location that has characteristics unmatched by any city in Ireland. It is where the 180 acre green zone that is Terryland Forest Park starts, stretching from Terryland Castle to the village of Castlegar, and where over 2000 trees were planted by Galwegians last November as part of the Galway Science and Technology Festival.
It is where the Corrib enters the city, a river that flows from the country’s largest lake and is a major ‘ecological corridor’ for wildlife reaching deep into the heart of Mayo. It is also where both the community-driven ‘Seven Galway Castles Heritage Cycle’ and the ‘Way of the Boreens’ commence.
'We ask now that the council look at making the Dyke Road itself pedestrian and cycling centric'
These looped trails form a network of over c30km of ‘blue’ river walks, country roads and lanes embracing Woodquay, Terryland, Coolough, Menlo, Castlegar and Carrowbrowne covering a rich diverse rural landscape of wetlands, rivers, woods, hedgerows, farmland, castles, ancient villages and karst limestone hills. The boreens, that formerly served as the transport arteries for the once largely farming population of the district and are primarily characterised by biodiversity-rich hedgerows, could now have a new lease of life in the 21st century as interlocking greenways for local communities, city dwellers and tourists.
COVID 19 has exposed the fundamental importance of tranquil green spaces and the natural wilderness to the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals and of societies.
'Every cloud has a silver lining and the people of Galway should take full advantage of the golden opportunity of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 lockdown'
We ask now that the council look at making the Dyke Road itself pedestrian and cycling centric, as part of the grassroots campaign recently initiated by Galway Cycling Campaign to have a cycling and pedestrian friendly transportation infrastructure for the whole city, and to convert the abandoned Victorian Waterworks into a Forestry/Waterways interpretative centre complete with café, gallery, bike hire shop and crafts workshop.
Every cloud has a silver lining and the people of Galway should take full advantage of the golden opportunity of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 lockdown to provide a Green/Blue dimension that will complement its Arts and Science identity. It will also be a fitting tribute and a culmination of a journey by Galwegians that began when they gathered in their thousands one Sunday during March 2000 in a field along the Dyke Road to plant the first trees in Terryland Forest Park in what has become Ireland’s largest urban forest regeneration project of the modern era.
Those pioneers of twenty years began a process of reshaping the city to provide living space for wildlife, a ‘carbon sink’ in the battle against Climate Change, an ‘ecological corridor’ connecting the Corrib to the farmlands of east Galway, an ‘outdoor classroom’ for schools, and a natural outdoor gym for ‘Wellbeing through Nature’.
Next week there will meeting of community and environments groups along the river and boreen networks to discuss these new developments to be followed in early June by the unveiling of the National Park City programme and its multi-sectoral steering committee.