My Kind Of Town - a vision for Galway after Covid-19

A platform for Galway to put forward ideas on how, after the pandemic, we can transform our city for the better

David Boland; Bríd Ní Chonghóile; Niall Ó Tuathail.

David Boland; Bríd Ní Chonghóile; Niall Ó Tuathail.

David Boland

Songwriter and music promoter

David Boland

Live music has been essentially shut down since March of this year - many songwriters, musicians, promoters and technicians face a precarious future while small venues may find it difficult to reopen.

I think perhaps it is a good time to recognise the value local music brings to the city and to consider how we might create the conditions that support it.

The value of music can be considered in three ways: economic, cultural and social. Economically speaking, a strong music scene attracts tourists, creates jobs, and supports our night time economy. When we talk of the cultural value of music we think of the enjoyment and meaning we experience at gigs, or the creativity we feel when we make music. The social value of music lies in how it increases our sense of belonging, identity, and the strength of our community bonds.

GIAF Concert Live Music Stock

Until recently, much of the talk around the value of music has centred on economics. This is understandable: social and cultural values are difficult to put into numbers; while showing how many people are employed through music, and how much money it brings into the local economy, is a strong case for support. However, there is now also a growing understanding of how the cultural and social values of music have wide reaching benefits for a city’s residents, communities, and profile.

'A thriving music scene has become recognised as one of the key attractors for big companies looking to invest in and bring jobs to a location'

A strong local music scene supports positive mental health, civic engagement, creative networking, cultural vibrancy, the development of empathy in young people, intergenerational interaction, and pride in a shared musical heritage: all things which contribute to our quality of life and our attachment to the city.

Indeed, cultural vibrancy is an important factor in Galway’s cherished cosmopolitan image, while a thriving music scene has become recognised as one of the key attractors for big companies looking to invest in and bring jobs to a place. We should, therefore, consider the development of a resilient local music scene not only as an investment in the people who have built it and the young people who will grow it, but as an investment in the health of our communities and the prosperity of the city.

'There is a growing understanding of how the cultural and social values of music have wide reaching benefits for a city’s residents, communities, and profile'

We need a music vision for Galway city - one that takes into account the need for rehearsal space, support for small venues and festivals, and engagement with local radio and commercial interests. Such a vision would support a reinvigorated live music and tourism sector in the future and have long term economic, cultural, and social benefits for the city.

Bríd Ní Chonghóile

Ardfheidhmeannach, Gaillimh le Gaeilge

Bríd Ní Chonghóile

Tá ceachtanna foghlamtha againn go gairmiúil agus go pearsanta le linn na tréimhse Covid-19. Am dúshlánach cinnte, agus an-dian ar go leor daoine, ach léirigh sé dúinn chomh maith, go bhfuil muid féin agus muintir na Gaillimhe seiftiúil agus go bhfuil todhchaí mhaith in ann don chathair iontach seo. Ba mhaith liom go leanfaí ar aghaidh leis an meas agus leis an ómós a bhí le feiscint dá chéile, dár n-oibrithe cúrám sláinte agus dóibh siúd go léir a sholáthar seirbhísí riachtanacha dúinn le linn na géarchéime seo.

We have learned lessons professionally and personally during Covid-19. This is definitely a challenging time, and very tough for many people, but it has also shown that the people of Galway are resourceful, and that there is a good future for this great city. I would like to see the respect shown for each other, to our healthcare workers, and to all those who provided us with essential services during the crisis, continue as we emerge from this pandemic.

Gaillimh le Gaeilge works in association with the Galway City Council, Galway Chamber, and other groups to promote the Irish language in Galway city. We work mainly with the business community and offer consultation, practical advice, and a hands-on help to companies wishing to use Irish in any aspect of their business, particularly as a tool for innovation and marketing, so that the people of Galway, and visitors, will feel that they are in a unique and special place.

'We have seen how the nation drew on Irish language proverbs such as ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ to express their true feelings as a community'

It is not an easy time for businesses in Galway, but I am impressed by how Galway businesses have gone beyond what was expected of them to serve their customers and I hope they will be repaid by their customer’s loyalty. The sense of ‘Meitheal’ has really come to the fore and I hope this will continue.

We live in a city that is well-known for its festivals, traditional music, and the Irish language. They are an integral part of what makes Galway thrive – it gives our city its unique personality and soul. It is what makes people stay, what attracts visitors to Galway, and keeps many here for longer than planned!

The Irish language is a central part of Galway’s culture and charm and I would like to see more and more people continue to embrace it as their own and as part of Galway’s USP. We have seen how the nation drew on Irish language proverbs such as ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ and ‘Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’ in order to express their true feelings as a community - these Irish proverbs cultivated a sense of optimism and hope that ‘le chéile’, we can and will overcome COVID -19.

'We have certainly learned a lot from this pandemic; it has forced us to slow down and made us focus more on what is important to us'

2020 has become the year of ‘staycations’ and provided us with an opportunity to explore our own country. What better place to experience ‘an Ghaeilge’ than here in Galway? We have one of the largest vibrant Gaeltacht areas in the country, the Connemara Gaeltacht and the Aran Islands, on our doorstep, and Galway is the only city in Ireland with official bilingual status.

Our Irish language and heritage should be more actively promoted by all tourism agencies in their promotion of the West and I’d like to see Galway city become a first class destination for Irish language cultural holidays in the coming years.

Technology has become an important tool for us to stay connected and we are fortunate to have the PorterShed located here in Galway. It has become a renowned tech innovation hub showcasing Galway and the west. I would like to see Galway people continue to develop and use technology more to sustain communities, to protect the environment and to connect with each other on a regular basis.

We have certainly learned a lot from this pandemic; it has forced us to slow down and made us focus more on what is important to us. We can still succeed even though we may have to do things differently, mar a deir an seanfhocal, ‘múineann gá seift’ (necessity is the mother of invention ) I hope that Gaillimh, our Cathair dhátheangach álainn, will emerge from COVID-19; stronger and with a better understanding of what really matters to us as a community living in the west of Ireland.

Niall Ó Tuathail

Social Democrats

While this pandemic has changed our political and social situation entirely, it has continued and deepened some of the big debates we have been having for years.

Now more than ever, we need to answer these questions about what is important to Galwegians and what our vision should be to progress together as a community. Questions such as: Do we have the safety of a functioning health system if we get sick?

Galway has some of the most talented and hardworking doctors, nurses and healthcare staff in the world. The care given to Covid patients in Galway was second to none. Our world class health staff deserve a world class health system. This must include investing in community care teams for physical and mental health that can take the pressure off Galway hospitals.

Do we have homes that are comfortable, and contribute to our mental health, when we are confined to them? Galway is a county of haves and have-nots when it comes to housing. Young families with two well-paying jobs can just about afford a comfortable home. The majority of younger people are made to compete against each other to pay more and more of their income on worsening qualities of homes. They deserve a Galway that builds decent and affordable public housing similar to what we did in the 1950s and 1960s when we were less well off.

'With a small investment, we can transform our parks into places of sanctuary that are accessible to all and become centre points for our community'

Do we have access to nature – parks, water, forests, hills – within a lockdown distance of home? The 2km and 5km limits showed how important local access to nature is. Galway is blessed with sea, Lough Corrib, and access to Connemara and the Burren. With a small investment, we can transform our parks into places of sanctuary that are accessible to all and become centre points for our community. Covid-19 has heightened our appreciation of nature and we need to build on that to become leaders in climate action and show the world how to make a city sustainable.

Are we part of a community around us that will support each other, and also feel the responsibility that taking a personal risk means taking a risk for all of our community? At the heart of the Covid-19 crisis, and the heart of my interest in politics, is whether we are a society that supports each other.

'We have so much to build on as a community, and we deserve an ambitious, positive, vision for Galway'

Galwegians really came to support each other during Covid. Thousands of people offered to volunteer, did a great job during lockdown, and have consistently had some of the lowest rates of Covid infections nationwide. Galwegians know that to look after each other is to look after ourselves. We have so much to build on as a community, and we deserve an ambitious, positive, vision for Galway and a political system that can make that vision a reality.

 

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