Kieran Foley

A group of proactive locals have ambitious plans to maximise Waterford City’s retail and tourism offering.

Members of the recently formed Waterford Inner City Retail Development Group aim to generate positivity and engender a reinvigorated pride of place amongst locals.

The group has been in existence for around six months and is comprised of representatives from Waterford Chamber, Waterford Business Group, and Waterford City & County Council.

Pharmacist Brian Tynan says one of the group’s objectives is to address retail in Waterford City Centre in order to bring “hustle and bustle” back into the city.

“We’re trying to come up with ideas about what we can actually do to help increase footfall in Waterford City Centre and make it more attractive for people to shop and enter into the city,” he says.

“We’re having the same issues in Waterford that the rest of the country is experiencing. Retail in every town and city in the country is really suffering.”

The group’s members believe accessibility is a major issue, particularly for elderly people. With this in mind, they aim to create designated ‘drop-off’ zones which would allow shoppers to be safely dropped off and collected at convenient locations.

It’s envisaged that such ‘drop-off’ zones could be located at Arundel Square, Lady Lane, and the Apple Market. The group’s members aim to work with Waterford City & County Council to further develop this idea.

Brian also believes there is huge potential to create further opportunities for people to live within the city centre area.

Cllr Eddie Mulligan, Brian Tynan, Denis Carroll and Jack Molloy.

Tourism potential

One of the group’s key priorities is the maximisation of Waterford’s tourism potential.

“We need to learn from other places around the country,” says Craft Butcher Jack Molloy. “Killarney sells its Irishness, and everyone is on board. We need to capitalise on what we have in Waterford and explore how we can drive the city on. In order to achieve what we’re trying to do, we have to go back before we go forward. We need to look at the history we have, market that story, and create opportunities for the city to develop.”

Jack believes there is huge potential to create a prominent landmark which would clearly proclaim Waterford as ‘Ireland’s Oldest City’.

“When you drive along The Quay, and pass Reginald’s Tower, you will not have noticed that you’ve driven through the oldest city in Ireland,” says Jack.

The group would like to see the old Waterford walls on Castle Street, which have been knocked down to half their original size, built back up to their full height and extended onto the pathways along with two archways and a plaque in the middle stating ‘Welcome to Waterford, the Oldest City in Ireland’.

“It could be called the ‘Viking arch’ and could become a focal point for everything we do,” says Jack. “It would help bring fun and pride back into the city.”

An image of the proposed ‘Viking arch’ by óró architects.

Brian agrees that such a measure has the potential to “put us on a national and international tourism map”.

“We have the foundations – we have the history, we have the museums,” he says, adding that the recent visit to Waterford by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall further highlights what Waterford possesses.

They believe additional opportunities could be created such as a Viking Heritage Centre, souvenir shops, cafés, and a Viking festival in conjunction with the Waterford Viking Marathon.

“There are so many things that make Waterford great,” says Jack. “We’ve been voted the ‘Best Place to Live’ in Ireland.  We need to get everyone to buy into how we’re thinking, teach ourselves about our history and become proud of our history. To create momentum, we need collaboration from different agencies. Once we create that momentum, we will begin to see the city going in a certain direction.”

With other developments happening in tandem, such as the extension of the runway at Waterford Airport, they believe the time is right for measures to be enacted to enable Waterford to move forward.