An artist's impression of the proposed new bridge; the project is lacking public support
AS a child I had very strong links to the University of Limerick. My father was part of what was then Thomond College, later to become the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science in the new university. My mother ran the campus bookshop.
Every day after school in Milford Grange my brother and I would make our way to the university while we waited for our parents to finish work.
On sunny days the university campus was our stomping ground. We felt as if this massive playground was our own. We could kick ball in the gyms, use the famous diving pit or discover new little dens strewn across the campus.
My favourite memories, however, are the days when I would take long walks along the riverside at the back of the Sports Science building. This was at a time when the campus was confined to the Limerick side of the river. Today the University of Limerick has evolved into a magnificent campus.
The development of the World Music Academy, the medical school, the student residences and the new all-weather pitches brought life to a part of the university that were just fields when I was a child.
As I walk the campus today the one feature that never ceases to give me joy is the Living Bridge. The scale, the seamless design and the sense of almost being part of the river is striking.
I’m sure if I was to travel back 20 years and announce that the untouched riverside on the university campus would be suddenly interrupted by a new phase of modern architectural development, not to mention an ‘award-winning’ pedestrian bridge, there would, no doubt, be public consternation.
That is what we do. We stress about anything that might disrupt our status quo. We look at artist’s impressions and get wound up about the finished design.
We believe it will be a waste of money. We highlight the many other ways money could be used.
We rarely place ourselves in the shoes of those who will see these new physical interventions 20 years from now.
This is what is happening in the debate around the new bridge that has been talked about in Limerick city. I believe such a project will greatly benefit our city’s public realm.
I certainly agree that public debate should happen with regards to this project but I equally hope that those who come out against such a development would do so with an informed argument.
I have visited many cities around the world. Any city that has a majestic river at its heart celebrates such an amenity.
It invites those using the city to use the river, the embrace it and to feel at one with it.
I walk the Living Bridge in the university on weekends with my dog. I force myself now to imagine the same space at a time when it hadn’t even been conceived, and I struggle.
I look forward to a day when I can take a walk on a similar piece of architectural genius in the centre of my own city.
I look forward to watching the mighty Shannon flow beneath my feet and to feel as if I am part of the city and it is a part of me.
Limerick gets to change Narrative
LAST week the Limerick Leader reported that Narrative 4 is to open its global headquarters in the city centre.
I am proud to have been able to do some work with the Narrative 4 team over the past few weeks and equally proud that such a project has chosen Limerick as its base.
Narrative 4 is a project that uses storytelling as a means of breaking down barriers and allowing those who take part in the project to discover the values of empathy. N4 was created by world renowned Irish writer Colum McCann along with a team of some of the world’s best creatives.
Speaking to the Leader last week McCann explained his reasons for choosing Limerick as the global base for N4. He believes that Limerick’s time has come. He sees us as an edgy, vibrant city that is now demanding to be put on the map.
In the early days of our year as City of Culture 2014 many of us questioned how investing in such a project could prove its worth. Now in 2016 and preparing for the final stage of our European City of Culture bid we must all now recognise the value of investing in our cultural sector.
Community spirit earns Limerick place in spotlight
GREAT credit is due to all those who came out in such numbers last Friday to take part in the TLC2 initiative.
The fact that the project has captured the hearts of the people of Limerick in year two bodes well for the future.
It was so refreshing to once again get national news coverage on Friday evening. To see the national media give Limerick credit for the largest community clean-up ever seen on this island is something we all should be very proud of.
When it comes to marketing our city going forward the TLC campaign is something that should be remembered. The positive media coverage it garnered didn’t come from job creation announcements, tourism figures, housing prices or sporting feats. It came from a group of proud like-minded people coming out for a few hours to clean up their city and county.
Community is what made us shine on the national radar last Friday. Nothing more.