Post-industrial heart of Galway, Ireland to get €200M revitalization as innovation hub

It’s a rare person who visits Galway, Ireland and doesn’t come away feeling that they’ve just seen one of the world’s most beautiful cities. That was certainly what I (Storm Cunningham) was thinking, as I munched what might be the world’s best fish and chips in McDonaghs on the waterfront.

But even the loveliest of old cities usually has a section or two in need of revitalization.

And so it is with Galway. Nuns’ Island is a 15-acre post-industrial area in the heart of Galway City. Locals often call it both gritty and charming. Local leaders now want to scrub off some of that grit to regenerate the area into an innovation hub. This will require an investment of some €200 million.

Old Galway street at night. Photo: Adobe Stock.

On February 1, 2019, the National University of Ireland – Galway (NUI Galway) and the Galway City Council welcomed the commitment of the national government’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund for this exciting regeneration of Nuns’ Island.

In welcoming the announcement, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said, “We very much welcome this support from the Urban Regeneration Development Fund and are delighted to see an agreed vision that this part of our City has the potential to generate a range of community, economic, social, environmental and educational benefits. This master-planning exercise will deliver fresh perspectives on the development of University lands and properties on Nuns’ Island.

Our dul chun cinn as a University is influenced strongly by the strengths of our hinterland and we welcome all views that will contribute to the long-term development of Nuns’ Island for the betterment of our community. This process will result in a plan with options for regenerating the area and we look forward to hearing the ideas of local residents, businesses, community groups and other interested parties as we collectively look to the future for this part of the City,” he added.

The commitment supports a major planning exercise, to include a public consultation process which has now opened, to inform the preparation of a plan which will result in a strategy for a structured approach to regeneration of the lands at Nuns’ Island, which is being prepared by the planners at BDP, by business strategy advisors Colliers International, and by quantity surveyors at AECOM.

The former industrial quarter is right in the center of Galway, and is set to be transformed by the masterplan into a new quarter that will enable the City to capitalize on its high-value ecosystem of innovation and culture to attract big multinational companies.

Community, educational, cultural, economic, start-up, environmental, residential and social uses will all be considered in the masterplan. The plan is being developed as a collaborative venture between the University and Galway City Council.

The masterplan encompassing 15 acres of Galway’s urban fabric will provide new spaces and give the City a centre-piece to confirm it as the capital for creativity, enterprise and quality of life. The waterways at the heart of Nuns’ Island have the potential to further enhance Galway’s reputation as a global landmark destination of quality.

The first phase of the consultation process is now underway involving a programme of engagement with local residents, community and business groups, as well as other interested parties. This consultation process will inform the development of an integrated masterplan scheduled to be completed later this year.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath said, “On behalf of Galway City Council, I am delighted to see the further advancement in the development of the Nuns’ Island regeneration project and join with Professor Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway in welcoming the inclusion of this signal partnership project in the Government’s Urban Regeneration Development Fund. We have been working closely with our partners and colleagues in the university to bring the project to this point and we look forward to engaging with all the stake-holder communities in this process of consultation.

Galway City Council is committed to the triple concept of ‘People, Place and Process’ and in Nuns’ Island we look forward to building on the established strengths embedded in this city-centre area and to drawing together the complementary strands of education, culture, heritage, business and the residential community to improve and develop the local area in the context of our vibrant, dynamic city and region,” McGrath concluded.

Featured rendering courtesy of Galway City Council.

Learn more about the initiative here.

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