Is this part of a real game changer for the planet's future? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding 'Yes'!
After over a year of direct campaigning, lobbying, consulting, researching and planning, I, along with so many others, was so proud to launch the ‘National Park City for Galway’ initiative on May 3rd at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics of the Data Science Centre of the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway. With over seventy people attending (mainly representatives from a myriad of organisations) and twenty one speakers drawn from a diverse range of local sectors, who gave wonderfully inspirational presentations on the environmental work that they have commenced or completed in 2019, it was one of the most influential and hopefully most important eco-gatherings ever to take place in Galway.
The event was officially launched by Mayor of Galway city, councillor Niall McNelis, who outlined the progressive series of policies that Galway City Council has adopted over the last few weeks including setting up a new full time on-the-ground staff unit for the city’s forest parks, agreeing to appoint a full time Tree Officer, re-establishing the multi-sectoral Terryland Forest Park steering committee, taking on board the all-Ireland Pollinator Plan, putting a Climate Action Plan out to public consultation next month and actively considering the post of Biodiversity Officer in next year’s council budget.
Guest speaker was Duncan Stewart, Ireland’s most famous environmentalist and producer of RTE’s Eco-Eye television series, who gave a ‘reality check’ to the attendees by outlining his serious concerns at the increasing levels of environmental destruction both globally and nationally.
The event demonstrated though a unity of purpose for protecting biodiversity, reconnecting with the rest of Nature and in tackling Climate Change that is now developing within all sectors of urban Galway. It was a gathering of like-minded people drawn from third level colleges, scientific research institutes, technology innovation, schools, small businesses, social enterprises, corporations, hotels, cafes, digital maker clubs, the medical profession, the health administration, the arts, politics, local government as well as the environmental and community sector who have agreed to work together to integrate Nature into the lives and infrastructure of our city.
Each of the twenty two guest speakers (below) outlined new or completed projects for 2019 that will impact positively on people’s lives and the wider environment and in the process help Galway in achieving a National Park City status.
The audience included veteran community campaigners Martina Finn and Eleanor Hough; Terry McDonough from the Local Community Development Committee(LCDC); Martin Brennan and Patricia from the Sligo Greenway campaign group; a management team from the Nox Hotel group; representatives from SAP Galway; Alan Kenny from Galway City of Culture 2020; Damien Nee from Corrib Beo; Mark Cronin manager of the Galway Foodspace catering group; teacher Michelle McDonagh and senior students from Our Lady’s College; Laoise (príomhoide), Eoin and Fiona from Scoil Iognáid; Maire Keady Baker/Máire de Báicéir (príomhoide) Scoil Shamais Naofa, Bearna; artist Sinead Hackett; Feargal Timon from the Woodquay Residents’ Association; Brian Wall and Lukasz Porwol from Insight NUI Galway; Conor Hayes from College of Engineering and Informatics NUI Galway; Catherine Connolly TD; Marian Brady from the Galway Environmental Network; Marie Talty from Irish Doctors for the Environment; James Harrold and Edward Skehill from Galway City Council; Gary Davoren and Dick Delaney from the Connemara Greenway Alliance; Paul, Donal and Anne from the Galway Science and Technology Festival; and Stephen Corrigan from the Galway City Tribune who wrote a fantastic article in the current edition of that newspapers (see photo).
They were also great exhibits on show including a beautiful revamping of the Woodquay Park as designed by Mary Reynolds (thanks Feargal); a huge external float from the Connemara Greenway Alliance (thanks Garry); the wildlife of Terryland Forest Park (thanks Helen!); food waste to food preserves by Foodspace; and the Citizen Science-based ‘Mobile Environmental Science and Air Quality Lab’ from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics (thanks Martin). Well done also to Lukasz for his live streaming of the launch.
The groundwork has now being laid to unite all of these different stakeholders, representing most aspects of local society, into a steering committee that will coordinate an action plan and a roll out of deliverables for ‘National Park for Galway’ designation. The work to make this happen will be continuous. So watch this page for regular updates.
Speakers & Topics at launch (MC- Brendan Smith):
1. Mayor Niall McNelis, Galway City Council- Official Welcome.
2. Duncan Stewart, Eco-Eye - Guest Speaker.
3. Professor Mathieu D’Aquin, Director, Data Science Institute, NUI Galway- Data Analytics & Digital Sustainability.
4. Lorraine Rushe, Buildings Office, NUI Galway- The Green Campus of NUI Galway.
5. Sabrina Commins, Galway City Partnership- Urban Bee Project.
6. Catherine Seale & Denis Goggin, Corrib BEO -Care, Protection & Sustainable Development of the Corrib.
7. Pat Collins, Geography, NUI Galway- The Connemara Greenway.
8. Claire Lillis, Aerogen-S ocial Engagement & Urban Forest Sustainability
9. Caitriona Carlin & Geishe Kinderman, Applied Ecology Unit, NUI Galway- The Outdoor Laboratory.
10. Martin Serrano, Insight Centre, NUI Galway-Citizen Science & the Greening of Smart Cities.
11. Niall O Brolchain, Insight Centre, NUI Galway- ‘Care Peat’: managing and monitoring carbon reduction from peatlands
12. Phil James, Galway Waterways’ Foundation- Galway’s Waterways network
13. Agustín García Pereira, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway- Land use mapping & Bee Habitats.
14. Colin Hanbury, Information Technology, NUI Galway-Fungi Identification app.
15. Eoin Jordan, Digital Makers’ Club, Insight, DSI, NUI Galway-Upcycling & 3D Printing.
16. Vincent Carragher, The Wheel- Citizen Science & the Curio App.
17. Ashling Jennings/Fiona O’Donovan, Healthy Galway-The ‘Blue Park’ of Galway Bay.