“Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed”.
The words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in his first soliloquy as he expresses a deep melancholy that sets the tone for all his subsequent speeches.
Over recent years in Limerick green shoots have popped up across the city. We have a vision; a plan; a new belief in who we are and what we could become.
Perhaps the many months leading up to the announcement of the winner of the European Capital of Culture bid allowed us to view the world through sepia tinted glasses.
Since the news of Limerick’s failure to win the bid there has been a slight lull in in the pervading confidence of the past few years.
For some, those green shoots are in need of nurturing. The fear is that Limerick’s unweeded garden just might grow to seed as the autumn sets in.
However, something very interesting is happening in the city at present.
Our city centre is starting to move away from the epitome of a ‘shrinking city’ to become a city that once again is spreading to parts outside of the perceived core.
The recent reopening of the former Bank Bar as the headquarters of Teckro was a start. The success of Paul William’s Canteen on Mallow St was an eye-opener.
Jerry Flannery’s successful planning application for a large new music venue showed ambition. Just around the corner we see plans for a major film training hub and screening venue.
Futureama Productions are taking over the former Brazen Head venue on O’Connell St. Damian Varley has plans (albeit somewhat controversial) to bring a new lease of life to the White House Bar. Across the road the Copper Rooms has become a hit.
The popular La Cucina restaurant is in the final stages of opening a city centre restaurant just off Howley’s Quay. Around the corner from there we are seeing work being completed on the much anticipated House venue.
The Curragower Bar is going from strength to strength on Clancy’s Strand as is Jack Monday’s coffee house on Thomond Bridge.
Then comes the news, as reported in this newspaper yesterday by Nick Rabbitts, of Rudi Butler’s intention to submit planning for a €40m mixed use development on the site that was once home to the ESB on the quays.
All of this action suggests a real confidence in Limerick’s future. These investments are not focussing on the traditional footfall areas but are spreading the Limerick city offer further afield.
Older venues are coming back to life, young businesspeople are seeing success and quiet parts of the city are being reinvigorated.
We have become somewhat impatient with the perceived lack of action by the council on its major city centre sites. However, we must not forget the other small pieces of the jigsaw that are being put together by private companies and individuals.
If we consider all that is going on in the city centre at present we might conclude that our garden is well and truly weeded and providing far more green shoots that we may have been aware of.