Limerick rugby centre poses new question of urban design

Nigel Dugdale's City View

Nigel Dugdale

Reporter:

Nigel Dugdale

Limerick rugby centre poses new question of urban design

Paul O'Connell with James Ring, Limerick Chamber CEO and Mark O'Connell, W2 at the site on O'Connell Street Picture: Alan Place

THE announcement on Monday that JP McManus is to provide an initial fund of €10m to create an International Rugby Experience on O’Connell St in Limerick is massive news for the city. 

The high-tech 30,000 square foot exhibition space will have an advisory board headed by former Munster, Ireland and Lions Captain Paul O’Connell and will include leading figures from the world of sport, business and tourism.

Work on the project is expected to be completed by 2019, just as we hope to see the completion of works on the remodelling of O’Connell St itself.

Limerick City & County Council has secured €4.1 million in European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) via the Designated Urban Centre Grants Scheme, a fund that was established to enhance the architectural heritage of our cities and towns while encouraging sustainable development which boosts the economic, social and environmental conditions within Irish urban areas. 

Most importantly, this fund investment will help to improve the quality of life of the communities that live, work and socialise in our urban centres.

The O’Connell St project, which is currently at feasibility concept phase and is supported also by Limerick City and County Council, bringing the estimated investment to approximately €9.1 million.

This commitment to the revitalisation of O’Connell Street, the heart of the Limerick/Shannon gateway, will result in quantifiable improvements to urban mobility and the urban environment.

The team behind the O’Connell St works are still seeking information from the public in order to realise a place, which helps us improve our economy, society as well as our built and natural environment.

The news on the International Rugby Experience puts a  new focus on how these works on O’Connell Street might take shape.

By locating a visitor attraction of this scale in the heart of Limerick city we will see a renewed vision as to how we can reimagine our Georgian city, not just as a shopping or business destination but one that is an experiential centre attractive to those who want to live, work or play. 

Debate is already starting around whether or not we should be pedestrianising part of O’Connell St under this new proposed project.

We must step back and look at a vision for our city that makes the user experience a priority. 

We must ask ourselves whether the car will continue to dictate how our city operates.

Imagine our city centre when the Rugby Experience opens in 2019. Imagine a beautifully designed public plaza just outside the door where shoppers and visitors can engage with our city in a new way. 

Of course we must make clever decisions in relation to ensuring our city’s accessibility is not adversely affected but we also must be willing to make bold decisions that allow our city to be developed in a way that reflects the many urban future trends we are going to see be reality in 20, 30 or even 50 years’ time. 

The McManus investment as announced on Monday is no doubt just the beginning of many more significant projects which will land in our city centre. Now is the time to ask questions about what the future will bring and ensure we are planning today with that future in mind. 

Get a taste of Limerick at Market event

The very best of Limerick Food and Drink will be on show at the 'Christmas Food Producers' evening in the Milk Market this Thursday December 15 along with a host of festive fun for all the family to enjoy from 5pm to 9pm.

‘A Christmas Evening of Limerick Food’ is the second event organised by Limerick Food Group (LFG) - a voluntary group of people working within the food community of Limerick with the shared vision of connecting people through food and promoting the community in local food, local people and local business with the hashtag #bialuimní to support Limerick food online.

The evening kicks off at 5pm when the Christmas Market Lights will be switched on by Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon.

Christmas hampers will be available to buy at low cost for those looking for a foodies dream Christmas present filled with fresh Limerick delicious food.

The night will feature a range of food producers bringing you the finest dish inspirations based on ingredients  grown in Limerick. 

Feast your eyes on local cheese, vegan produce, Limerick drinks, delicious hot dishes to go, gluten free sweet/savory and more. Local Chef Tom Flavin will start the evening’s series of demonstrations whipping up a seasonal taster from 5pm.

Live music by local choirs will entertain the crowds for the evening.

EY expands in city

Professional services firm EY has announced the opening of its new expanded office space in the heart of Limerick city. 

The firm, which employs over 50 people in the city, has moved to a modern and open plan office space in Riverview House, Harvey’s Quay in order to facilitate its ongoing expansion following continued market leading growth. The fully operational office was formally opened last Thursday by Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan.

Overlooking the River Shannon, EY Limerick’s centrally located and expanded office has the capacity to support the firm’s ambition to grow to a headcount of at least 100 people by 2020, providing much needed jobs in the region.