Galway City Council has agreed in principle on a site for a new €25 million cultural venue, in a move described as a “good Christmas present for the city”.
The proposed Galway City Library and Cultural Campus will encompass a new city library, visual arts space, multi-purpose performance and conference space and a dedicated music venue. At Monday’s city council meeting, all councillors present voted in favour of locating the cultural campus at the council car park on the Dyke Road, just off the Headford Road.
Chief Executive Brendan McGrath indicated that the new campus could also include the Black Box Theatre, stating the facility was past its sell by date and needed to be “incorporated into something new”.
At Monday’s meeting, Mr McGrath strongly recommended the location at the Dyke Road be agreed in principle in order to progress to the next stage of planning.
“For a considerable period, the absence of key cultural infrastructure within Galway City has been identified as a significant barrier to the cultural, artistic and economic development of Galway,” he said.
“Following a review of potential projects in the context of the selection criteria approved by the BMW (Border, Midland and Western) Regional Operation committee, and the specific urban challenges experienced in the city, a project to locate a new Galway City and County Library and Cultural Centre on the Headford Road has been selected for the funding application,” it continued. According to Mr Mc- Grath, the project, by virtue of its nature and location, will help create a new, vibrant, urban environment and contribute to revitalising the Headford Road, making it an integral part of the life of the city and county.
Although the proposal was agreed in principle and welcomed by the majority of councillors, issues were raised by Independent Cllr Catherine Connolly who said she had “serious concerns” over the chosen site. “While I welcome the fact we are endorsing this in principle, I disagree with other councillors over the chosen site because it is under flood as we speak.
“There are other more suitable sites in Galway. We haven’t looked at Céannt Station or the docks. There are other premises that would easily accommodate a library,” she added. In response to Cllr Connolly’s concerns, Labour Cllr McNelis said flood defences could be incorporated into the building design when it came to that stage. He said the city needs a cultural campus and library.
“It will make Galway a city to be even more proud of and it is things like this that makes Galway different.” Similarly Labour Councillor Billy Cameron said he didn’t know if it was an ideal site but “we’ll find out”. However he welcomed the news in general and said it was a “good Christmas present for the city”. In the context of Galway’s 2020 European Capital of Culture bid, Mr McGrath said the delivery of a successful Galway City Library and Cultural Centre Project would also bring about a “lasting legacy” and permanent artistic and cultural sustainability.
The estimated cost is forecast to be in the region of 25 million euro and could take up to three years to build. It is estimated the full project will take four to six years to complete, depending on the success in putting a funding package for the cultural campus together.