A few years ago, I hauled the entire hard copy archive of the Advertiser up to M6 to Dublin to get it all scanned so that it would be preserved for ever. That tonne or so of yellowing old papers containing hundreds of thousands of pages were then individually scanned so that the changing commercial and cultural life of a city could be retained for future generations to look back on. (The result is contained on a free archive for all to see and use at archive.advertiser.ie ) However, the net result of that journey is that the existence of such an archive gives us all perspective on the changing face of this city and how major projects have come and gone in the last fifty years.
This week we have news of what will perhaps be the two biggest projects in the west over the next decade. Contracts will be signed soon on the Tuam to Gort motorway which will create at least 1,500 jobs over the next three years, and in the city chambers this week, we heard of the advancement of the plans to develop Galway Harbour to the standard which will see it be able to compete with others and attract the lucrative cruise liner business.
On page 50, this week I published a photo of how Eyre Square looked 10 years ago this week. It was a mudbath as befitted any building site and while its lawns are a mess at the moment, it is a reminder that that development was a major project that came and went with a lot of dust and blockades and left a lot of us decidedly underwhelmed by its outcome.
That project brought inconvenience for city businesses, for commuters to and from and for those who lived and worked in and around Eyre Square. It was also a terrible eyesore for a good portion of its duration. During that time, it was frustrating to be unable to convey to visitors that the city was a really nice place, and not just something behind this pile of rubble. It was the equivalent of having the Yanks visit the house years ago and being unable to find the blue willow cups and plates.
The Eyre Square development is not something we could go through again.
Because of that it is right that we set in train a process of ensuring that the disruption and damage caused by this worthy harbour development project is minimised, so that life in Galway can proceed as it always has. Because of its size it does not take an awful of lot to inconvenience the city, to discommode the commuters and to take away from the overall experience of Galway. There is no doubt that Galway will benefit from this project. It will create many jobs over the coming years and well into the future. When completed we hope that it will fit in with the tangible and intangible infrastructure of a city that hopes to hold the City of Culture title in 2020.
However, life between now and then must go on and it is up to planners and developers to ensure that it nears normality as much as possible and that we don’t spend seven years stuck in traffic behind a convoy of HGVs.
— Folks, remember the clocks go forward ONE hour this weekend. That means more daylight for you all to get out and enjoy Galway. Start a new regime, get in more exercise. Leave the pursuits of winter behind and breathe in that air.