An air of change abounds

There’s a lot of change in the air at the moment — Galway gets its new bishop this weekend; the University formerly known as University College Galway and latterly NUI Galway will soon be known as Ollscoile na Gaillimhe — University of Galway; the RTC/GMIT is now ATU; Jurys is to become Leonardo; and there’s a new bridge due to span the Corrib; and dare I say it, Galway are beating Mayo again.

Over the past few years, because we have all been so overwhelmed by the enormity of everything, change has been having less and less impact on us. It is as if we are immune to major announcements and pronouncements anymore. That a newsflash has no more currency than a standard headline; That we have become so conditioned by being universally subservient and instructed.

There are people who are ill with regular but still serious conditions whose plight has been emotionally sidelined because the entire world has been concerned about ill health for the past two years. Once concern over mortality was the preserve of those approaching it; now we have all become accustomed to bad news being delivered to our doorsteps.

Perhaps our ability to be shocked or to be in awe has been hampered and will be the true legacy of the past two years — the war in Ukraine being a further driver of the dulling of our senses to horrors unbound.

But back to Galway...and all this change.

By the time you are all off buying next year’s Valentine’s Cards; and by the time the last wax runs down the candles in the Solemn Novena, there will be a new crossing of the River Corrib; the first new one for decades. The sod was turned on the new pedestrian cycle bridge at the Salmon Weir this week and when finished, it will be another beautiful piece of civic architecture to add to our bank of modern constructions in the city.

The bridge will make life safer for us all — as it will bring to an end, decades of danger posed by the narrowness of the path and the tight squeeze needed by traffic on a bridge built for a different era.

For generations, millions of footsteps have been taken on the narrow paths on the Salmon Weir bridge, knowing that just one stumble could propel you onto the narrow road and certain death or injury.

It is gratifying to see dangers like this be eradicated in our new public spaces. Long may such thinking continue. Long may our planners and visionaries do their utmost to create a city infrastructure that enables everyone equity of access and enjoyment and safety.

Best wishes also to our new Bishop, Michael Duignan, who will be installed on Sunday; and greetings also to his predecessor Bishop Brendan Kelly. Bishop Duignan becomes the local leader of the Catholic church in an evolving Galway — a city and county much changed .

I wish him well in his endeavours and trust that he will do his utmost to promote humanity and empathy among us all so that we can recover from the trauma of the past few years with hope and optimism.


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