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Majority of people surveyed want Persse Distillery to become cultural space


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Majority of people surveyed want Persse Distillery to become cultural space Majority of people surveyed want Persse Distillery to become cultural space

From the Galway City Tribune – Most respondents to a survey of visitors to the Mars installation at Nuns Island during last year’s Arts Festival said they wanted the long-vacant Persse’s Distillery to be repurposed as a cultural space.

Artist Luke Jerram’s 1:1000000 scaled rendition of Mars attracted more than 10,000 visitors to the Persse’s Distillery building on Nuns Island.

It was a joint initiative between UrbanLab Galway at University of Galway and Galway International Arts Festival, aimed at ‘starting a conversation’ about a ‘forgotten’ area of the city.

Over four days last July, UrbanLab canvassed the opinion of more than 2,000 attendees about the future of the site, Nuns Island, and the city of Galway.

The responses, published this week, recognised Persse’s Distillery was located in a prime, beautiful location and it should be repurposed as a cultural space.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

Researchers found there were some differences of preferences between older and younger respondents.

“The younger demographic expressed a desire for culture-making spaces, such as studios, co-working spaces, and rehearsal spaces, while older respondents cited the need for the building to add to the underserved cultural infrastructure of the city; imagining it as an art gallery, concert hall, or city library,” explained Dr Pat Collins of UrbanLab Galway.

Asked why housing did not feature as strongly in the responses, given it is a residential area, and there is an ongoing housing shortage, Dr Collins said responses may have been skewed by it being ‘an event’ during ‘a festival’; and when viewed up close, “it inspires grander reflections”.

A lecturer in economic geography, Dr Collins said residents and festival-goers, were “enamoured by the beauty” of the “quiet urban quarter” of Nuns Island.

Many highlighted “the unique natural ecosystem that exists at the confluence of the raging river and still canals”, he said.

“The main theme regarding the future development of Nuns Island reflected the broader city-wide desire for a more sustainable, climate-aware form of development. Respondents were keen for the city to move away from reliance on private transport and towards more sustainable forms of transport, with adequate infrastructure to support this including cycle lanes, footpaths and light rail.

“There was also a recognition for the city to act as a place of making, not just consuming, with a focus on creating spaces for culture, creativity, and innovation,” Dr Collins said.

On the future development of Galway as a whole, respondents lacked confidence in local and national government.

“Respondents expressed a desire for greater transparency and accountability in decision-making processes, as well as a need for more community engagement and involvement in the development of the city. There was a strong call for more investment in sustainable infrastructure, such as public transport, green spaces, and affordable housing, as well as a recognition of the need to protect the city’s heritage and cultural identity,” Dr Pat Collins said of the research.

UrbanLab Galway plans to canvass the public about key development issues facing Galway at city and county events later this year.

■ The data can be viewed on Flourish

(Photo by Joe O’Shaughnessy: Mars artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram at Persse’s Distillery during Galway International Arts Festival in July 2022).

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