The saga of the Eyre square renewal scheme rumbles on... Stirring up yet more controversy along the way, even here!
The current proposals by Mitchell & Associates is an extremely well considered, thoughtful approach to the current problems of eyre square. This is their second scheme for the square, havng revised their proposals to accommodate all of the trees of worth that are currently in the square following criticism from some quarters. The layout and circulation proposals - including the arc connecting the two major hubs of the Shop St. corner and the Railway/Bus stations, the relocation of the "sail" sculpture and the creation of level terraces of lawn to counteract the slope of the square - are all sensibly and elegantly resolved and will add immeasurably to the quality of Galway's urban environment.
Images and plans of this layout can be found at the following:
Eyre Sq PDF
There are however some quarters in which this proposal is not so popular, particularly in the local media. Newspaper story after story has come down on the scheme and misinformation is rife. Recent claims in certain papers would have you believe that there won't be a tree left standing in the square, that the whole space is to be concreted over, that the trees that are to be planted will be dead within months etc etc... Its disgraceful and very frustrating that such ignorance can hold up such an important scheme.
Even more frustrating is the fact that many of the people of Galway seem to be falling for the crap that is being spouted by the few. The model of the scheme was being displayed in the Eyre Sq. Shopping Centre a few months back. It drew great crowds and was extremely convincing in displaying the benefits of the scheme. However the amount of comments along the lines of "those trees arent going to be that height for 50 years" or "Thats not really going to be grass" was ridiculous! This despite the fact that it was clearly written on display boards that new trees are to be semi-mature and of at least 5m high before planting, that lawn area would in fact be greater than is there currently etc. etc.
And the latest twist in the tale is this unsolicited (except by the cranks who are hoping to undermine the official proposal)scheme proposing to reconfigure the square into the shape of the claddagh ring... the heart shaped lawn and the statue of Padraig O'Connaire at the crown... Unfortunately I can't find any images of this scheme because I'm sure it would give you all a great laugh! I have never seen anything more kitch or twee in my life, right down to the "celtic patterns" inlaid into the paving around the edges of the square... It even proposed the retention of trees which are currently dead! The only trouble is, this amateurish and fundamentally flawed scheme has received acres of coverage in the local press and even or RTE News as mentioned. And again, a lot of locals who are being fed only misinformation are falling for it and saying "Sure wouldn't it be lovely" and all the rest. the lowest common denominator always having a certain appeal...
So this is where the situation stands at the moment. We have the City council on one side getting ready to move in, cut down the trees that need to be removed, and get to work on turning what is now an eyesore into something Galway can be proud of. On the other side we have the local media, the assorted cranks and crusties and everyone else who has been fooled into believing their bullshit who are getting ready to "resist" by tying themselves to trees and lying in front of bulldozers... It's pathetic.
And by the way, I have nothing to do with the City Council or the architects involved (in case I sound too enthusiastic about the whole thing!). I'm a student of architecture, back in Uni in Dundee this year, but who has lived and worked in Galway City Centre for the previous two years. I walked through Eyre Square every morning and had my lunch there on many afternoons, despite the fact that it's currently a shithole quite frankly! Something needs to be done urgently and I'm convinced that the current Mitchell Associates proposals are worthy of the city. Lets just get on with it for god's sake!!