A bumper calendar of events next June could see thousands descend on Galway Harbour, marking a return to the carnival atmosphere last witnessed during the two Volvo Ocean Races visits to the city.
The biggest event will be a stopover of the Venture Cup, when a fleet of up to 25 of the best powerboat racers from across the world will race in 1,000 miles of challenging seas along the Irish coastline over seven days of intense competition.
Described as the longest, toughest and most prestigious powerboat race in the world, Galway will be the only port out of six where the stunning craft will compete in inport racing. Using the Aran Islands as a chicane along the route, the races held over four days from June 16 and involving vessels that have broken speed records of 244mph will be visible from the Prom in Salthill.
“Not only will spectators see them race in Galway Bay, because of the uniqueness of our harbour, the public will get the chance to get up close to these boats – possibly even get on board. They really are magnificent,” said Harbour Master Captain Brian Sheridan.
“There are aspirations to turn it into a mini-Volvo Ocean Race but that all depends on the marketing drive and how the organisers get their message out there. It won’t be as big as 2012, but there should be food stalls, prize giving and entertainment along the harbour.”
Around 1,000 people directly connected to the race between onshore crew and competitors will be in town, while Capt Sheridan predicts 5,000 visitors are likely to attend the event. However, organisers believe that between Cork, Dingle, Galway, Killybegs, Belfast and Dublin, up to a million boat enthusiasts could descend on the ports to soak up the atmosphere.
“It’s no secret that Ireland can party better than most, so competitors and visitors can expect nightly celebrations just as big as the waves the teams will be forced to crash over, through and under,” remarked one organiser at the launch in London last week.
There could even be a bit of celebrity spotting. Recruited to the Vector Martini team – already tipped to be among the favourites – will be model David Gandy, with British adventurer Bear Grylls also expected to be involved.
The youngest competitor will be Adam Brennan (18), son of John Brennan, hotelier and co-star of RTÉ’s At Your Service.
“This is a return to true adventure in racing,” remarked Aidan Foley, event director for the Venture Cup.
“We’re seeing too much predictability in motorsport right now, too much blandness. When you add the types of conditions we’re expecting, into a mix of 25 top international teams full of personality, bravery and good old fashioned derring-do, you get a sports event which is wildly more exciting than what’s currently out there.
“We think people are going to love following this race. Whether they’re watching on land or on-line, we’re going to give them something very special and unique.”
The race will be covered by the world’s top sports channels as the monohulled racers pass landmarks such as the Fastnet Rock, Blasket Sound and the Giant’s Causeway. The progress of the teams can be tracked through a special app.
The crews will be competing for the Venture Cup – first presented in 1908 by a member of the famous Vanderbilt family – with the winning nation to be presented with the British International Harmsworth Trophy dating back to 1903 and widely recognised as the equivalent of sailing’s America’s Cup.
It will be an extremely busy month for the harbour. Seafest 2016, an initiative of the national maritime plan HOOW – Harnessing Our Ocean Worth – is a national festival and conference which takes place at the Docks the last weekend of June. In the region of 10,000 industry figures descended on Cork for the last one, according to Capt Sheridan.
The Challenge Galway Triathlon Festival – involving a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride finished with a 42km run – will be held June 24-26. This is expected to attract around 5,000 people to the city.
Missing man may be in Galway City
Gardaí in Cork believe that a man missing from Midleton since last week may be in Galway City. are renewing their appeal for assistance in locating 53-year-old French man Christophe Goutte, is missing from his home in O’Brien Terrace, Midleton since Wednesday 15th January.
From enquiries to date it is understood that Christophe took a bus from Cork Bus Station that Wednesday and disembarked at 5.35pm in Galway City. He is living in Ireland for a number of years.
Christophe was last seen leaving work in Carrigtowhill, Co. Cork at approximately 11am on Wednesday 15th.
He is described as being 5″ 8′ in height, of stocky build with brown short hair and white skin with a sallow complexion. When last seen he was wearing a black coat, black pants, a black woollen hat and a brown pair of boots, he was carrying a dark coloured overall bag.
Gardaí are particularly appealing to those in the Galway city or surrounding areas to report any recent sightings of Christophe.
City Council planning €2.5m bailout for Galway 2020
Galway City Council looks set to bail out Galway 2020 – with an additional grant of €2.5 million to cover the European Capital of Culture programming costs.
The local authority has already allocated €6 million for the project, which officially launches on Saturday, February 8, with an event in South Park, Claddagh.
But city councillors will be asked to approve a further €1.25 million in both 2021 and 2022, at a special meeting next Monday.
The city’s ratepayers may ultimately have to cover the extra costs. A 3% higher commercial rate, introduced in the build-up to this year, and retained in 2020 with agreement of business representatives, may be maintained into 2021 and 2022 if management City Hall has its way.
As well as having to find €2.5 million extra for Galway 2020, Chief Executive of the City Council, Brendan McGrath, will ask councillors to sanction a grant of €80,000 to Druid Theatre for a production it is planning for March of this year, which was not part of the original Galway 2020 programme.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.
Sandy Road regeneration heralds new dawn for city
THE first steps have been taken this week in what promises to be the biggest ever single urban regeneration project in the city – a potential half-billion-euro development of the 20-acre Sandy Road site.
A design review of the site has begun this week to be conducted by the Royal Institute Architects of Ireland with a brief to set out an outline vision strategy for the provision of 1,000 new homes as well as employment units and leisure facilities.
Property owners on the site earmarked for development include the City Council, the ESB, Galway County Council, the Galway Education and Training Board and the Connacht Tribune-owned Galway Bay FM premises.
The initial stages of the project – being driven by the State funded Land Development Agency (LDA) – will also have a strong ‘green element’ to it in what is being termed a ‘non-car’ development.
Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, told the Galway City Tribune, that it was a most exciting project for the city given its location within one kilometre of Eyre Square and its ready access to roads and public transport.
He said that the main thrust of the development would be housing-orientated, with a variety of residential units including affordable, social, rental and private sale properties.
“What’s happening this week is the important first step in what can be a very real achievable project for the city in the short- to medium-term period with the first phases coming on stream in the next three to five years,” said Mr McGrath.
The panel of architects [chaired by former senior Bord Pleanála planner, John Martin] will have its review completed by the end of March [this year] with the project in a position to go the detailed design stage some time in 2021, according to Brendan McGrath.
“We would hope that – all things going well – this project would be going on site by the end of 2022, with the first phases to be completed 12 to 18 months later,” Brendan McGrath said.
He stressed, however, that there would be a detailed and lengthy consultation period with all of the property-owners and tenants on the 20-acre site before the project would proceed.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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