The replacement of the “gross and ugly” perspex surround on the Browne Doorway has been welcomed by local independent councillor, Terry O’Flaherty.
Works have been completed and the surround which had lost all translucence when an attempt to clean the deteriorating protective casing turned it white and left the lower half of the historic structure hidden.
Cllr O’Flaherty said that she had been pressing for some time to have this work done and while she would have preferred the total removal of the surround, she believed that anything was an improvement.
“The replacement of the glass is only temporary until a permanent solution is found.
“It really took a lot of effort to get to this point and I have really been chasing after this for a long time – I have to say that I was ashamed of it the way it was,” exclaimed Cllr O’Flaherty.
Works carried out by Galway City Council included removing weathered material from around the monument and installing new, 10mm thick, clear polycarbonate sheeting.
Further works to the structure took place this week involving the re-polishing and cleaning of steel supports for the sheeting as well as the removal of staining utilising specialist product.
“The Browne Doorway is an iconic example of some of Galway’s finest architecture, dating back to the early 1600s. Unfortunately the structure has been deteriorating for some time resulting some years ago in it being surrounded by a perspex cage.
“Over time, the perspex had become badly weathered and ugly-looking and it has been standing out like a sore thumb at the top of Eyre Square – it had turned into an embarrassment.
“I was delighted to be informed by the Chief Executive of Galway City Council that the replacement of the perspex was underway and that the repairs to the steelworks would follow ,” said Cllr O’Flaherty.
The former Mayor said that the time had come to start working on the permanent preservation of what is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
A report last year outlined the necessity for funding to be set aside for the preservation of several historical structures – including the Browne Doorway as well as Menlo, Terryland and Merlin Park castles.
In Galway City Council’s budget for 2017, an allowance of €170,000 was made for this purpose – however, it is estimated that a total of €1.2million will be required to ensure their continued survival.
Cllr O’Flaherty said that the doorway should remain on Eyre Square given that it is a major attraction for tourists visiting the city.
“I was recently sitting in Eyre Square for a while and I observed the number of people taking pictures of the doorway and reading the plaque that is in front of it.
“By golly, if I have any say, it won’t be moved out of there – I feel that is where it should remain due to the fact that it is a great attraction for visitors.
“I think it should be given a railing, similar to the old railing in the Square and that a garden should be put in it – perhaps dedicated to all the literary giants that this city has produced,” she said.
The Browne Doorway dates back to 1627 when it stood as the entrance to the Browne ‘mansion’ in Abbeygate Street before it was moved to Eyre Square in 1904 by the Galway Corporation.
“We can’t just let it fall into total disrepair and we have a decision to make about its future – I know that will involve spending a lot of money, but we can’t just do nothing,” said Cllr O’Flaherty.