Over the past week or two I brought you the story of the Bishop Foy School and its tercentenary celebrations. I hope you found its history of interest because I certainly did.
Just a few footnotes – one is that I was very pleased to receive a number of e-mails from the UK, Germany and the US from Old Foyonians who had visited here and one from someone who now wishes he could have made it having enjoyed it indirectly by means of my column.
Secondly, having seen an excellent oil on canvas painting of the ‘Blue School’ on the Mall, one can but lament the demolition of such a fine elegant building there which was architecturally in harmony with the fine lines of this noble thoroughfare, all the more lamentable in that such are few enough in Waterford and none to spare. The ESB building was constructed on the site of the former Foy’s school and what a sad looking building it is today – even allowing for the fact that it has lain idle for a good while now. How could the planners of its day have allowed the demolition of the older fine building to be replaced by something which totally intruded on the intrinsic elegance of the Mall – maltreatment indeed!
Okay, let’s for a moment look at the other side as the new ESB building of glass and steel in the context of the late 60’s/early 70’s reflected an emerging, modernising and progressive Ireland replacing a building while elegant maybe, was dowdy, representing the past. The same thing was happening, probably for the same reasons, in the heart of Georgian Dublin around the same time. If you pass along the Mall these days you will notice the old ESB building cordoned off with hoarding, pending its redevelopment as new civic offices for the City Council and very much part of the bigger plan for the area in what the planners have dubbed ‘The Government Quarter’. There is also a disused building to the right of the above which is a blemish (to put it at its politest!) on the landscape there. How its sheer ugliness has been tolerated all these years beats me and it is overlooked by the very council offices themselves. And there’s folk out there who still wonder why the tourists flock to Kilkenny in their many thousands.
Things are getting better though. For example, hats off to Palmer Auctioneers whose new premises in Colbeck St. is indeed an elegant contribution to the architectural finery here. So, I sincerely hope that the redevelopment of the ESB site/s will present an ideal opportunity to restore the grandeur of this Mall.
I remember reading something in the city’s development plans, the current plus previous editions about the prohibition of advertising hoardings on our main thoroughfares into the city, yet they abound, here there and everywhere. Along the great DMR we had a few drawing attention to our Waterford Treasures in the Granary – a worthy venture, so we kinda said, okay. But now these self same hoardings in recent times have been singing the merits of using Waterford Airport. However worthwhile all such things and we wish them continued success, this advertising is purely of a commercial nature and as such contravenes the strictly laid down guidelines of the City Development Plans. What’s the big deal anyway, Brasscock, is it worth getting bothered about this one? Well in my opinion, yes! Not just a matter of impact on the visual environment but more importantly in the interest of road safety. What’s the point of advertising if it’s not to be read or trying to get a message across? Planning guidelines are full of talk of visual impacts and sightlines on our roads, at junctions and roundabouts and yet up pops major sized advertising signs demanding our attentions.
Quite properly the use of mobiles, have been banned while driving – for the reason that they are likely to distract our attention. And is that not the purpose of roadside advertising?
Another dimension to this issue is that if the Council indulges these adds how can they come down on others who push the boat out in their roadside messaging? I have spoken in the past about the roundabout at Grantstown Park/Oskars in terms of being very tight, leaving little margin for error. For instance many drivers approaching it from the town-end wish to turn into Grantstown Park frequently don’t indicate that fact. To the puzzlement of others, yet this very juncture there is an advertisement on the roundabout telling you about a great meal and wine offer. It may well be a great offer and superb food but why is the signage tolerated at this potential hazard spot? If it is being read which is the intention of its placement there, is it not a road hazard? All the other city roundabouts are sponsored too but the norm is to just display the company’s name.
To finish on this topic, the proliferation of advertising at the WRH roundabout last week was near to overwhelming with circus shows being adding an array of full colour. I thought there was another election on the way. But could the guys we put in the last time do something about de-littering our visual environment and let us see what’s going on. By the way the back road work – long, long overdue works – is going at a great pace and ahead of schedule, I believe. I’m looking forward to walking and driving a much safer road and I pause here to think of those who lost their lives along there in recent years…..RIP.
The boxing night at the Woodlands last Saturday proved to have boxed very clever as a charity fundraiser for the Kidney Association. It was extremely well supported and attracted generous sponsorship raising a whopping €17,000 thousand plus for the cause. The event was billed as a BIKER V BOXER contest. A popular member of Waterford’s Freewheelers has taken up the pugilistic art of boxing with the St. Saviour’s Club and before long was well in the swing of things. So when they heard of the plight of a local lad with a serious kidney condition needing to have a vital transplant operation funded (the youngest ever at 11 to undergo such an operation) it was decided to mount this attractive and novel challenge at the Woodlands and supported by a full programme of eager and talented local junior boxers.
Lenny Burns of the Freewheelers was to the fore in organising the event where everyone including the band gave of there time and talents freely. People happily danced the night away having had a good time in terms of entertainment and good money raised for this most worthy of causes. Some people say that such fund raisers for medical reasons should not be necessary and that it should be covered as of right by the HSE and I agree. But nevertheless there is a side of me which also sees the goodness of caring and the generosity it brings out in people and by so doing forges the essential bonds of community. Mar a deirimid sa Ghaeilge – ni neart go cur le ceile/there’s strength when we act together. No mar a duirt Peig (remember her!) – ar scath a cheile a mhaireann na daoine/we live in the shadow of each other. Long may it be so.
The Waterford Freewheelers appreciate those sentiments as they take time out each year from their free wheeling to organise a fund raising night for some deserving local cause and they are usually most successful events as this one was at the Woodlands last Saturday – Well done everyone involved. Next week I’m off for another bite of the Big Apple, have a nice day now!
Go seachtain eile, slan.