A seven-day covered market is “a lung that we need in this city” – that’s according to the founder of the city’s well-known Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.
Seamus Sheridan, a former Green Party general election candidate for Galway West made the comments while speaking at NUI Galway’s Social Sciences Research Centre’s ‘Galway: Today and Tomorrow’ conference.
Mr Sheridan spoke of his jealousy of Cork’s English market and said that creating a market in Galway was a “no brainer”.
“We must create a covered seven-day market here in Galway – end of story – we are a modern city,” said Mr Sheridan. “We have no method for the distribution of any food that may, or could be, produced around Galway to get to us, consumers or chefs in the semi-commercial sector – it’s vitally important and it would create jobs.”
Mr Sheridan called for the market to be located on the ground floor of Hynes Yard car park – a site owned by Galway City Council and currently leased to Park Rite for the operation of the car park.
“We inherited this site, the people of Galway and we put in permission to put it [the market] there – you can see the pillars where the shop fronts are supposed to be at the bottom of Hynes Yard car park.
“It’s there, it’s three minutes walk from Shop Street through the lanes and it’s a gorgeous site – unless somebody’s got a better site, then I would love to hear it but we own that one and that is where I’d like to see it,” he exclaimed.
Mr Sheridan outlined the numerous benefits the city would reap from such a market with the social aspect being front and centre of his argument.
“It also has a huge social benefit as you grow older – you can bring your kids there and they meet friends, they can smell and taste the food.
“Buy your rashers off one butcher because he’s looking at you and sneak off to your better butcher to buy your steaks keeping everybody happy – you could grow old there and meet each other for a coffee or a drink there,” he said painting a romantic image of a market at the heart of the city.
Mr Sheridan believed that the market would be a huge tourist attraction to the city attracting countless visitors each year.
“The idea could be so incredible – it would be one of the biggest tourist attractions we could have in Galway and it would make money,” he claimed.
In his segment, entitled ‘Food and the Local Economy’, Mr Sheridan put forward the idea of linking tourism and food as a means of giving small producers an opportunity to cash-in on the west’s growing tourist numbers.
“We have one massive export and that is tourists. Don’t think of tourists coming here – when tourists spend money here, think of it as an export.
“I began to think that all my producers are halfway up mountains – nobody knows where they are and it looks incredible,” he said.
To combat this, Mr Sheridan called on producers to locate themselves along the Wild Atlantic Way and net tourists as they travel along the west coast.
“If you were to make cheese there along the side of the road with a car park, not only would you be getting your weekly or monthly cheques from Sheridan’s or the shops you supply but you would be getting a multiple of that by tourists just stopping and buying your products,” he said.