Let’s be having you for Galway’s big century

When Galway was on the cusp of becoming an EEC city fifty years ago this month, it had yet to attain the cultural and technological economic status that has defined it in the interim, plucking it from being a large provincial rural town to a city.

Over the next decade after EEC membership was attained, Galway benefited from the presence of many exceptional characters on the political, the cultural, and the economic front. Even on the religious and sporting fronts, the region was well blessed with larger than life characters whose presence ensured that this neck of the woods punched above its weight in terms of prominence.

Because of this, Galway was forever in the news. It became a rich hunting ground for those seeking discourse of matters of import. It created an atmosphere into which we enabled the existence of representatives, such as this country’s first citizen.

Back in those days, nobody who represented Galway was ‘milk and water.’

In academia too, we were blessed to have some heavyweights ready to opine on the pressing matters of the day. The location of the third level colleges brought forward a generation of academics who were always willing to give of their time and expertise to ensure Galway progressed.

They were of the opinion that knowledge within the walls of the colleges was wasted unless it was allowed to help develop what lay outside the walls. The link of town and gown was limited, and that is now changing to a major degree.

The arts sector grew and flourished on the sweat on a small number of people — and that work is benefiting Galway every time we make a pitch for a new company to come here and give jobs and a good standard of living. It gave Galway an aura that it has retained and polished, even if the disappointment of Galway 2020 took some gloss of it.

They defined Galway and that definition has stood the test of time.

It was as if a golden generation had come along and made their mark on us all

However, golden generations are normally only spoken of after their impact has been.

There is now a need for another golden generation to come along…or indeed to create a process to ensure that all generations are golden.

Where are our new playwrights and poets, our new actors and dramatists? Are we all basking in the glory of what has gone before, content for us all to coast along on the back of work done almost half a century ago?

Where are our new fresh academics, engineers and architects?

This is not to suggest that they are not there. Galway IS blessed with a whole new generation of academics and engineers and architects and poets and writers and dramatists and film-makers and entrepreneurs.

See the energy that exists in our start-up and business-nurturing sector, such as the PorterShed and Galway Technology Centre and ATU’s hubs.

The raw material is there to form a strong team to enable Galway to prosper.

It is their time now. It is YOUR time. Every one of you, whether a member of any of the above sectors are not, has a role to play in helping Galway nourish.

One of the most frustrating aspects of my role in the last few decades has been given a front row seat as chance after chance of Galway progressing has evaporated.

It is time for that to change.

I would like to think that another golden generation will bring it onwards to where it should be.

If Galway is to attain the status it should have attained decades ago, there is a need for you all to put up your hands and make a difference.

It is time for all of you out there who can contribute to the definition of a new Galway to do so, to raise your paw and have your spake.

In these pages, I am affording space for all who have a valid contribution to make to the progress of Galway, in whatever sphere. I would like to think that people will come knocking at my door to avail of this.

There are thousands of wonderful thinkers in this region, people who will ask why not, rather than why.

I would hate to think that a century from now that we will look back on another missed opportunity.

So, don’t be shy. For Galway’s sake.

Happy New Year.


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