River archway to mark legacy of Easter Rising

Bruach na Coiribe at O'Briens Bridge: City Councillors voted to proceed with plans for a commemorative arch there.

An archway to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising in 1916 will be built at a pedestrian bridge in the city.

City councillors have voted to proceed with plans for the commemorative arch at O’Brien’s Bridge and Bruach na Coiribe.

The erection of a commemorative arch in Galway City was first suggested in the 1930s, and again in the 1950s.

As well as celebrating the heroes of 1916, it was also intended to celebrate those who took part in the War of Independence.

Although there are no costings for the arch itself or associated ground works, the City Council previously made budget allocations towards the project and there is some €57,000 in a kitty at City Hall for it to proceed.

Senior Engineer, Seán Langan, drew up an assessment report, identifying four possible locations, including O’Brien’s Bridge which was the preferred option and the one chosen by Councillors.

Mr Langan said an arch at O’Brien’s Bridge would complement the one located already located at Newtownsmyth, which was erected in 2010 in memory of Irish people who died promoting peace and democracy at home and abroad, and would signify the entrance/exit to the river walk.

“The wide paved area at this location also provides ample space for tour guides operating river walks to stop with small groups without obstructing other users of the walkway, give information on the arch, maybe the history of the walkways, and other heritage features near this location and enjoy the views and sounds of the river,” he said.

Independent Councillor Terry O’Flaherty expressed her delight at the go-ahead for the commemorative arch.

“I am delighted that this commemorative arch, which has been planned and talked about for so many decades, is finally about to go ahead – it’s something I have been years campaigning for.

“County Galway was actually one of the most active areas outside of Dublin at the time of the 1916 Rising, so it is only right that we should have such a fitting memorial erected in the city more than a century later,” said Cllr O’Flaherty.

Cllr O’Flaherty said that after many false dawns, the commemorative arch would now finally be erected and as well as honouring those involved in the fight for Irish freedom, it would be an aesthetic addition to the city.

She added that it was Tom Kenny of Kenny’s Bookshop who had ignited her interest in reviving efforts to erect the arch, designed by sculptor Seamus Murphy, and at her behest funding had been set aside in previous Council budgets, while she’d had meetings with the Council’s Chief Executive and senior officials to discuss the location of the arch.

Labour Party councillor Billy Cameron said he agreed with the location, but felt the arch would bring more pedestrian traffic to the area and it should only proceed after an anti-slip surface was install on the wooden footbridge, which is slippery when wet.

More reports will now be undertaken to progress the project further.