The Galway Waterways Association has submitted what one local councillor has called “an ambitious plan”, to restore and enhance the city’s network of rivers and canals, to the Galway 2020 team, as part of the preparations for its 2020 Capital of Culture designation.
Independent city councillor Terry O’Flaherty has called on the Galway City Council to support the plan, and for it to carry out a feasibility study on the proposal. She said the proposed plan was “ambitious, but achievable” and if carried out, would see “the waterways transformed into something that can be enjoyed by all the people living in the city and would greatly increase its attraction to visitors”.
The submission, Going With The Flow: Reclaiming Galway’s Waterways Heritage, proposes a series of restoration and enhancement works, with involvement by a wide range of clubs, residents, schools, businesses and community groups. These would be carried out on a phased basis over the next three years and include a series of new walkways; a design competition for a walkway over the old railroad pillars connecting the city to the Connemara greenway; planning for the establishment of a waterways museum; a publication featuring the wildlife on the waterways and a waterside walks guide; as well as a regular cleaning, repainting, and renovation programme.
The submission also proposes using the the River Corrib to produce hydro-electric power for the city, without damaging the natural environment. It also calls for a hydro-electric conference, supported by NUI Galway, during 2018 to outline how this could be achieved.
The GWA says the project to restore the rivers and canals would fit Galway 2020 under the ‘Landscape’ pillar of the bid document, the waterways being “central to the heritage of Galway, having shaped life in the city from its earliest origins to the present day”.
“The Capital of Culture year presents us with the best opportunity yet to restore the waterways to the place they should occupy in the city,” said Cllr O’Flaherty. “For too many generations Galway turned its back on one of its greatest attributes until in more recent times we started developing the fantastic riverside walks that everyone enjoys so much today.”
Cllr O’Flaherty has also called on City Hall to make representations to the Department of Environment for “necessary funds towards this worthwhile project”.