National Enterprise Town Awards: Galway’s West End

We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Galway city’s West End.

Galway’s West End has a long and colourful history moulded by Galway characters of old and new. The area moves to a different beat than the rest of the city, which involves keeping high street chains at bay and allowing independent boutique businesses to flourish.

Many of Galway West End’s businesses have been there for generations and supply the needs of the city’s bountiful restaurants and bars that have won awards around the world and stamped the area on the global food map.

“It’s a bit different, but we like it that way”

Galway’s West End is saturated in culture and it is where many of the city’s festivals were conceived in snugs of its bars and venues. You won’t be short for choice of where to enjoy a pint more than likely served by the owner. No two bars are the same but the locals like to be regulars in all of them.

Irish-speaking organisations and a fantastic arts scene including an Arts centre, galleries, theatre and music every night of the week keep the area vibrant.

Speciality tea and coffee cafes with hidden sun traps and vintage clothing shops have recently changed the day-time vibe of Galway s West End but no day is complete without calling into Ernie s green grocer for an apple and a history lesson.

“It’s a bit different, but we like it that way,” say the area’s NETA organisers.

Regeneration

Through collectively and a community approach Galway’s West End is looking at how to build a sustainable future through green business and valuing what it has. The aim is to enhance the area through shared values, a collective buy in and by remaining authentic to the community’s cultural and artistic vision.

Key to this is funding supporting independent retailers, bars, restaurants and cafés and ensuring the district is revitalised and thrives.

Galway’s West End has always been about business. The Small Crane was the site of the Potato Market and the weighing scales is still there today. Family run businesses for generations work alongside new shops, bars, cafes and restaurants getting ready to hand over to the next generation. In one street you can get a freshly caught fish while you wait for your shoes to be repaired while a locksmith retrieves the keys you left in the car.

Looking to 2019 there is a big focus on green business. The district is an EPA pilot green area and is bringing out its own keep cup to encourage less waste and people to reuse whilst also spending in the area

The West End has also developed an intelligent bin plan for the area with Ballot Bins installed to encourage smokers to deposit butts wisely, resulting in a 45pc decrease in cigarette litter.

The West End holds two street fests – in Easter and in June – a tradition that began two years ago. This showcases local businesses in a one-day pop up event. In a first for Ireland, it is a completely biodegradable festival in partnership with Walsh Waste and the waste must be compostable or you cannot participate.

All in all, Galway’s West End is about sustaining and empowering a unique community and enabling its diverse blend of businesses to thrive long into the 21st century.

Galway image: David Steele/Shutterstock 

Published by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 4 September, 2019