The phrase ‘Any port in a storm’ derives from times when going to sea was a hazardous and dangerous trade. A storm could arise at any moment, with high winds and high seas, which could easily cause a ship to sink. In a storm, any port (or harbour) was better than having to ride the storm out on the open seas.
During the recent Volvo Ocean Race and the previous stop-over, we saw first hand the wonderful potential of the port in Galway. What happened at the harbour during the Volvo Ocean Race was a temporary measure, but can you imagine what could happen if the harbour was developed in line with the proposed New Port of Galway Plan?
Early mentions of the port in Galway go back to the 13th century and relate to the collection of taxes and levies on cargos of wine, salt and materials for the building of the town walls. We also know that in the 14th century the Galway merchants were consolidating and strengthening the position of the port under the patronage of De Burgh. In the 15th century, a quay wall was built and this was later extended to accommodate a growing trade. Periods of neglect ensued and, in 1830, a Harbour Commission was established to draw up plans for development.
Galway Harbour, as a facility, has the potential to be great, but it must be supported. On their website, Galway Harbour Company states that the harbour is ‘your’ harbour and indeed it is.
The port has undergone many changes and developments, as one would expect, and this current plan, which is well worth visiting and reviewing, is another part of history being created. The current plan consists of 23.89 hectares of land reclamation. The development itself will consist of berthing facilities for general cargo vessels, oil tankers, passenger vessels, fishing vessels and container vessels. A western marina will be formed providing 216 amenity berths. The development will also contain ‘roll on/roll off’ facilities and berths for naval/research vessels. Breakwaters will be constructed as part of the proposed development to provide requisite shelter and craft stability while berthed (source Galway Harbour Development Plan).
The reasoning behind the proposed redevelopment of Galway Port is to allow for the maintenance of current core port activity and to further enhance and grow this business. The redevelopment holds the key to the future survival of the port as an economic entity. It would allow the port to compete on a level playing field with both national and international ports. It would allow for the future proofing of the strategic and sustainable survival of the port for generations to come.
We are very fortunate here in Galway to have such a facility and there are many direct and indirect benefits to the plan. These include employment, tourism, marina, the port itself becoming an economic hub in the heart of Galway City. The tangible benefits are great and include the spin off economically from cruise ships, fuel ships etc., so it is really important that the people of Galway support this port proposal for Galway.
By Hannah Kiely, CEO, HC Financial Advisers