Date Published: 10-Feb-2011
BY ENDA CUNNINGHAM
One of the biggest retail landlords in the city has warned that unless he is given planning permission to completely redevelop the main entrance to the Eyre Square Shopping Centre – to make way for a major international fashion retailer – Galway will continue losing shoppers to other cities.
He has also warned that the impending redevelopment of Galway Shopping Centre could be detrimental to the city centre.
However, a series of objections have been lodged against the plans by tenants in the Eyre Square Centre on the grounds that it would remove the main entrance, and they would be ‘at the whim’ of the new anchor tenant.
Developer Gerry Barrett – who owns the management rights to the passageways within the centre as well as a number of the retail units and the adjoining Edward Square – is seeking permission to completely demolish the ‘ramped’ entrance hallway leading from Eyre Square into the centre to make way for a 20,000 square foot retail unit.
The new development will be a ‘glass cube’ looking onto Kennedy Park, which will be anchored by a ‘big name’ brand.
Mr Barrett – described as the ‘superior landlord’ of the centre – claims the redevelopment will put the centre on a par with the Dunnes Stores entrance to Edward Square; the Arnotts entrance on Jervis Street, Dublin; Debenhams in the Ilac Centre, Dublin; and Next in the Quayside, Sligo.
“Securing an anchor tenant will not only assist the existing tenants and landlords, but will sustain the centre in the future and diminish the potential loss of business out of Galway City to other major retail sectors that have become more accessible as a result of a more efficient road, rail and bus transport system. “Galway as a retail destination is suffering and is not competing with other regional towns and centres”, he said.
It forms part of the developer’s overall plans for the €800m redevelopment of Ceannt Station. He has also secured planning for the demolition of a 1970s extension to the side and rear of the Meyrick Hotel.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
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