One of the sketches illustrating the alternative boardwalk the council could consider for its riverside project
AS the Limerick bridge debate continues to capture people’s imagination it was very refreshing to read two contrasting opinions in last week’s Limerick Leader.
In this column I have long been an advocate for creative and innovative approaches to how our city will be shaped into the future.
In some circles I have been branded as a blindly positive ‘yes man’ who bows to those in the corridors of power. Others have accused me of dismissing their opinions as being negative and naysaying.
I value debate and I certainly value the democratic process. If anything, the bridge debate has captured the imagination and demonstrates our civic pride. It would be far worse if we didn’t give a damn about how our city might develop.
Having an objection to a proposal is valuable. Having a proposition for how a proposal can be bettered is even more valuable. Therefore, reading both Healy Partners' alternative bridge concept and Hugh Murray’s eloquent series of suggestions last week was refreshing.
We are a proud city. We love branding ourselves – City of Sport, Start-up City, Riverside City, Medieval City, Georgian City, City of Culture, Gateway to Wild Atlantic Way and so forth. But are we actually doing enough to justify such titles?
Let’s look at our Riverside City brand. Have you ever stood on one of the junctions of O’Connell St that lead down to the river? Not one of them gives a visitor any sense that the river is only two blocks away.
The Henry Street junctions leading to the river actually act as a barrier with little or no sense of a route leading to our waterfront.
Our newly developed riverside boardwalk is aesthetically pleasing but lacks regular activity or events to attract solid footfall. Retail and hospitality on the city side of the riverfront struggles to succeed.
Our navigability from Killaloe, a prime gateway for potential riverside activity in the city, has long been a challenge for pleasure cruisers.
Things are changing for the better. We are seeing more kayakers and those with an interest in river activity coming to the fore.
There are discussions around the navigability from further north. The docklands are being suggested as ready for redevelopment. The Cleeve’s site has huge potential. Our castle is attracting more and more tourists.
The relocation of the court building will present another riverside opportunity.
What both Healy Partners and Hugh Murray did last week was propose concepts that would ultimately focus on the generation of footfall along our waterfront.
They were both focused on creating a sense that the riverside acts as an ‘event’ in itself. Both these contributions are constructively challenging the existing bridge proposal with interesting alternatives.
We need to see more of this.
I love the riverside views in Limerick. I love walking our majestic shoreline. I trust our urban population will increase radically over the coming years.
I have a deep desire that what we plan for going forward doesn’t simply dwell on an historic status quo but sensitively adds real value to our city’s riverside offering.
The Riverside City brand is Limerick’s for the taking.
Good luck Mike in Belltable role
I was delighted to hear the news that Limerick Playwright Mike Finn is to receive Arts Council support to make him the first Belltable Theatre Artist in Residence for 2017.
A playwright, screenwriter and actor, Mike Finn is a founding member of Island Theatre Company.
He has won many awards including the 2000 Stewart Parker Award for his play Pigtown which just concluded another succesful run at the Belltable. Mike’s latest endeavour, a musical, The Unlucky Cabin Boy, played to packed theatres around the country.
Anyone who knows Mike will testify to the deep knowledge he has of our city’s history but most importantly the great creative and passionate person that he is.
His appointment to this new position is appropriate at a time when we focus on the development of our regions cultural profile.
I wish him all the very best.
Join the party and wow judges
Next Tuesday is one of the most important days our city will have witnessed in quite a while.
The European Capital of Culture Jury Visit gives us a huge opportunity to showcase our city, its people and our ambition.
The Limerick 2020 team will be showing the jury members around the city on the 12th and all of us are invited to ensure the visit is a successful one.
Limerick will display its 2020 vision with a street celebration to thank everyone for supporting Limerick’s bid to become European Capital of Culture. This food carnival will take over the Crescent, at the top of O’Connell Street in the heart of Georgian Limerick.
This celebration of Limerick’s food culture will delight as Daniel O’Connell will be festooned with bunting, fairy lights, tent poles, street performers, fire eaters and a food village of local producers ready to produce mouth-watering fare.
The day-long party will also celebrate Limerick’s welcome diversity with one of the Limerick 2020 bid book projects called The World Recipe Exchange.
You are invited to share with the ethnic communities of Limerick who will showcase their indigenous foods.
There will be further special events at the Hunt Museum and the Urban Garden on O’Connell Street and, of course, on the boardwalk at Howley’s Quay as Limerick continues its celebration of the River Shannon.