Work on an archway to celebrate the centenary of 1916 Rising will begin in Galway next year. 40,000 euro has been allocated to building the memorial archway at a proposed location at O’Brien’s Bridge.
Independent Councillor Terry O’Flaherty welcomed the allocation of monies towards the project, which was passed at this month’s budget meeting in Galway City Council.
Cllr O’Flaherty’s notice of motion proposing the building of the archway was unanimously supported by the elected members. She said, “I am delighted with the funding to erect the arch as this will be a fitting memorial to the people who suffered in the pursuit of Irish freedom in 1916, and also the victims of the hostilities in later years up to the end of the civil war in 1923,” she said.
“While nationally most of the focus on the events of 1916 centres around Dublin and the GPO and Boland’s Mills, County Galway was actually one of the most active areas outside of the capital at the outbreak of the Rising,” she added.
While work will begin on the structure next year, further funding will have to be provided in the following year’s budget to complete the construction.
Cllr O’Flaherty said the memorial arch was first mooted in the 1930s. She explained that it was earmarked to be erected at the O’Brien’s Bridge entrance to the walkway running along by the River Corrib. “This would be a great addition aesthetically to the city centre, but the decision to have it at this location may have to come before Galway City Council for approval.”
The idea for such a memorial in Galway goes back 80 years and even John Wayne played a part in fundraising for it. College Road native Sean Turke is credited with sparking the idea when he returned from the United States with money for the project donated by other Galway ex-pats.
Years later a local committee was set up and among their fundraising events was a gala concert and dance at Seapoint Ballroom in Salthill in 1951, attended by stars of ‘The Quiet Man’, being shot at the time, including John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald and Victor McLaglen.
The memorial committee commissioned Cork sculptor Seamus Murphy to design the arch, which included the inscription: ‘To the memory of the Men and Women of the City and County of Galway who suffered for the freedom of Ireland during the year 1916 and onwards.’
They managed to raise more than £2,000 but the project never got off the ground, despite a number of efforts to revive it over the years, said Cllr O’Flaherty.
She added that she is thankful to her colleagues for agreeing to the allocation of 40,000 euro.
“This has finally cleared the way for this project to get off the ground, with construction to get under way towards the end of next year.”
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