An impression of how the completed Hanging Gardens site might look in the city
IS it just me or is 2016 flying by? Half way through June and it seems that Christmas Day was only yesterday.
As I reflect on 2016 as it reaches its mid-way point I find it difficult to pin down my high point of the year so far.
It has been a strange year. We haven’t seen the level of new jobs announcements for the city when compared to this time last year. Our Living City Initiative has received zero expression of interest. There has been a slight lull in the level of exciting news that was emanating from our city in recent times.
All is not doom and gloom, however. I think it is important for us to put into perspective where the lie of the land is in relation to where we stand.
The much anticipated Hanging Gardens project looks set to finally start the construction phase. All going well we could see this important building occupied in the not too distant future.
The concept design for the space is appealing and is anticipated to attract significant interest from FDI companies looking to base themselves in the city.
Movement is also being seen on the former Opera site in the city centre. We have read so much about this space and there is no doubting the significance of this development for the future prosperity of the city.
The Troy Studios project is up and running and, again, we should see tangible action there in the coming months.
Troy will be a game changer when it comes to the creative and cultural life of the city.
The potential for spin off industry is huge.
Our start-up scene is growing with a recent announcement from the Hartnett Acceleration Centre at LIT highlighting the potential for 200 jobs to be created via the IT start-ups working from the centre.
Unemployment is ultimately falling. Our newly re-landscaped train station is nearing completion. Design work for the rejuvenation of the O’Connell St area is happening.
For sale signs in our city centre are coming down. Our hotels are regularly booked out. King John’s Castle and other tourist sites in the city are reporting positive continuous growth numbers. More people our using our river. Our food industry is witnessing a renaissance.
Our bid for Limerick 2020 is in its final stages and, win or lose, the process has been a major learning curve in terms of how our region embraces culture. Limerick FC is winning big. Our swan population is increasing and our city is safe, clean and positive.
We cannot expect to see big jobs announcements or major news announcements every week but importantly we must not take our eye off the ball in terms of getting the future planning of the city correct. How do we make our city centre attractive to live in?
How about tennis courts on rooftops, basketball courts, outdoor cinema screenings, more bicycle lanes, inner city parklets, more investment in outdoor events, proms in the park, more incentives for indigenous local business, more street art, pop-up bandstands, deckchairs on the waterfront during summer months, free umbrellas and a navigable Shannon?
We must now be willing to do things a little different. We must have the courage to take risks, to be inventive and to ask questions about what makes a city tick.
Perhaps now is the time to be futuristic in our thinking.
My pleasure to be part of Limerick Sings
It was a pleasure to have been asked to compere the opening concert of this year’s Limerick Sings Festival which took place at venues across Limerick last weekend.
More than 500 choral singers from San Jose, Texas, Sweden, the UK, Dublin, Cork and Limerick descended on our city to share their love for choral music. The event is run by Campus Life Services at the University of Limerick along with the University Concert Hall and the US based Perform International.
Over the past three years Limerick Sings has evolved to become an event that is now attracting some of the best choirs from around the world.
Not only do these choirs have an opportunity to share their skill with us, we have the chance to showcase our city and county to them.
I really hope Limerick Sings continues to grow. It is a joyful event to be a part of and one that has the potential to become a serious player on the international choral event calendar.
Grab a taste of what Limerick has to offer
A reminder that this Thursday will see the Urban Food Fest take over Limerick’s Milk Market.
For one night only, the historic Limerick Milk Market is being transformed into a street food mecca for ‘Urban Food Fest’, as producers, market traders, restaurants, and hotels come together for a unique Limerick food event.
The event on the evening of Thursday June 16 will be open to the public with free entry, and guests will purchase tokens as currency to enable them to sample taster plates from various stalls (€15 for 5 tokens).
A family friendly event, Urban Food Fest will take place in the Milk Market from 6pm until 10pm as the venue will be transformed to create a unique and festive evening atmosphere that will showcase some of the best food and drink Limerick has to offer.
Inspired by the culture of international street food, the food offering will also have an Irish twist and everything will be local from Limerick including meat skewers hot off the grill, freshly rolled sushi, pulled Limerick pork, steaming paella, curries, seafood pasta, sliders, Mexican tostados, herring and gravlax tasters, and even a Limerick cheeseboard, and there’s lots more with over twenty Limerick food businesses taking part.