A proposed new bridge from the Cathedral car park to Bowling Green would “destroy” salmon angling in Galway city as it is to be located at the spot “where 90 per cent of fishing takes place”.
This is the view of the Galway City Salmon Angling Association which has written to all 15 city councillors, calling on them to oppose the new footbridge.
The Draft Galway City Development Plan 2011 - 2017 contains proposals for four new bridges over the river - over the constructions that formed part of the Galway-Clifden railway line, close to the Commercial Boat Club; a footbridge over the Salmon Weir Bridge for the benefit of pedestrian safety; and a new bridge close to the Wolfe Tone Bridge.
However it is the fourth bridge which is causing controversy. It would begin at Monsignor O’Flaherty’s house, off the Cathedral car park, extend across the river and link up with the Nora Barnacle Bridge to Bowling Green.
Local residents though believe it will result in anti-social behaviour near their area. Anglers are concerned it will stop them from fishing in the river, which has led to Billy Smith, secretary of the Galway City Salmon Angling Association, writing to each of the councillors calling on them not to include this bridge in the development plan.
According to Mr Smith the bridge will be located at the spot known as the ‘High Bank’ “where 90 per cent of fishing takes place”.
Mr Smith said that the reason most fishing occurs at the ‘High Bank’, is that the salmon “do not lie downstream of the high bank as the flow does not suit them. When we hook a salmon on the high bank it will nearly always run downstream and the angler must be able to follow down quickly so as not to lose the fish and to land the fish further downstream where we have two landing areas”.
Mr Smith said it will be impossible to land the salmon downstream because if the bridge is erected “we will not be able to get around it”. He also said hooks and lines will get caught on the bridge and that the bridge will be over “one of the best hooks in the river where salmon lie”.
In his letter he pointed out that until 1978 Galwegians were not allowed fish in the river as it was owned by an English landlord and it would be wrong to create a situation where fishing is curtailed again.
Mr Smith pointed out that a number of years ago Bowling Green residents got the council to close off the Nora Barnacle Bridge as it was a site of anti-social behaviour. He said residents are concerned that opening the bridge again will result in anti-social behaviour plaguing the area once more, and that they too are opposed to the idea of the new bridge.
In his letter, Mr Smith also said that the bridge would “destroy the natural beauty of this area” and that it made no sense for a council that is encouraging people to do more walking and cycling to “spend possibly a couple of hundred thousand euro to create a shortcut that will take two minutes off a four minute walk”.