The tides have started to turn at Galway Harbour as Murray Timber Group last week received the first shipment of logs ever recorded in the history of the docks.
The 3,000 tonne freight was shipped from West Argyle in Scotland, where it was harvested from a 45-year-old sidka spruce plantation. While there have been shipments of pulp and processed timber through the port in the past, this is the first time that complete logs have been delivered. This occasion marks a turning point for the forestry industry in Ireland, as throughout Irish history ports were more likely to see logs exported.
The 100 lorry loads of timber are destined for processing to construction materials. The company responsible for importing the logs is the Murray Timber Group. With two processing plants, one in Ballygar, County Galway, and another in Ballon, County Carlow, the company identified a need to bring more logs in order to meet its production demands.
Director of Murray Timber Group, Patrick Murray, said that this was an encouraging sign of recovery in the construction industry as well as growth in the forestry sector.
“Murray Timber Group has focused its efforts on steadily growing the business in recent years. A direct result of this growth is the need to import additional logs, which is due to a lack of local trees currently available,” said Mr Murray, who further explained there was a certain lack of education in the forestry industry that was stalling the growth as well as supply.
Mr Murray said: “The industry is not where it should be right now, but it’s definitely getting there, albeit slowly. We would like to be in a place where we could buy only Irish trees for processing in our plants, but right now the market just isn’t there. I hope that the Irish supply will increase over the years to a point where the industry becomes completely sustainable.”
Murray Timber Group was established in 1977 and now employs 150 people. The group is an important part of an industry that is worth €2.2 billion to the Irish economy annually. The group recognises the potential of using Galway Port, and has plans to continue importing through the western dock.