The grounds around the Menlo Castle ruins are regularly used for swimming, picnics, walks, and playing, and should be turned into Galway city’s next official public park.
This is the view of Labour councillor Derek Nolan who proposed at the recent Galway City Council meeting to create a new city park centred on the preserved ruin of Menlo Castle.
Cllr Nolan was supported in his bid by his fellow Labour councillors, Fine Gael’s Cllr Hildegarde Naughton, and Independent Cllr Terry O’Flaherty and the creation of the new park is now a key objective of the draft Galway City Development Plan 2011 - 2017.
Menlo Castle was destroyed by fire in 1910 but the ruin has become one of the city’s iconic images. During summer the castle grounds are a popular spot for people to walk, relax, or take a swim. Many like to view the castle across the river while walking on the NUI, Galway/Dangan side of the Corrib.
Over the last decade there was much talk of renovating the ruin and a Galway born businessman made an offer of €5 million to re-develop the castle. However there was much controversy when it emerged that City Hall was considering giving a “long term lease to the top floor of the castle to the private developer to use as a private residential unit”.
Following Cllr Nolan’s proposal, the castle looks set to be preserved as it is and with public access. He said the castle ruin has a “unique beauty and elegance” and preserving the castle in this form is the “best way to respect” that.
“Previous proposals to redevelop and semi-privatise the castle would only have served to sever the sense of shared ownership, place, and history the ruin now evokes,” he said. “The castle has found a warm place in the cultural landscape of Galway, expressed in both art and poetry.”
Cllr Nolan said that as the castle grounds are regularly used for swimming, picnics, playing and relaxing, that the grounds are already “a de-facto parkland” and he wants to see City Hall officially declare the grounds an official city parkland.