Independent Media Centre Ireland

Echoes of Dublin's Wood Quay disaster in Galway?

category galway | environment | news report author Friday July 31, 2009 18:03author by Fred Johnston

AIB get their way

AIB plans to knock part of the mediaeval structure in Galway are approved

In spite of objections by An Taisce and Galway City Council's own Heritage Officer, Allied Irish banks have been granted approval by Galway City Council to demolish part of the mediaeval Lynch's Castle in the city's Shop Street in a move that only a few years ago would have been considered farcical and impossible. Oddly, The City Tribune newspaper's account of the matter (July 31st) starts with a paragraph that reads like a PR hand-out, stating how reconstruction will "see the consolidation of their regional operations and the doubling of staff numbers," which is a clear declaration straight from AIB. According to the newspaper, An Taisce consider that the application is "out of keeping with the surrounding townscape," and City Council Heritage Officer Jim Higgins echoed this.

But Galway's new City Council, ruled by a Faustian pact between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to keep awkward Lefties and opponents of development and The Salthill Airshow at bay, over-ruled even their own man.

Lynch's Castle is a Protected Structure. But this isn't stopping the bankers, who intend to remove buttresses and what they term 'later additions' to the edifice. A three-storeyed structure with glass facade will serve new premises and a bigger bank.

Those of us old enough to remember the devastation wrought by 'development' in Dublin's Wood Quay in the 'Seventies, culminating in the burying forever of the oldest excavated Viking settlement in Europe, may give pause at this latest act of planning barbarity in the soi-disant City of Culture, whose idea of culture seems increasingly to be based around a philosophy of knocking things down. Another department of Galway City Council has opposed development of the Western Writers' Centre in the city to the degree where the Centre pointedly refused even to apply for grant-aid this year. The Council's reported order that archeological and architectural features 'be retained and displayed on site' is ominously reminiscent of the 'Seventies argument which permitted artifacts at Wood Quay to be removed to the National Museum before cement was poured. Is this act of heritage destruction to be what we will remember the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael City Council in Galway for?

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