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Revamped Gort square a credit to community


A VISION by Burren Lowlands to reimagine the Gort Market Square, was recently realised with the completion of the enhancement works on this much-loved public space. 
Burren Lowlands CLG is a volunteer-led community development group whose mission is to make the region a better place to work, live and visit.
The Market Square has always been central to the life of Gort town and surrounding communities. The Weigh House located here is a testament to the busy market days of the past, and a Friday market is still held in the Square.  
Local architect, Brent Mostert, was responsible for the design. The fact that his office was once located above the Square inspired the design, as he looked upon the comings and goings around the space daily.
The primary idea was to create a more open space to allow interaction between the Christ the King monument and people.
After some initial fundraising by Burren Lowlands CLG, Town and Village Renewal grant and local Councillor’s contributions, phase one was completed in December 2019.
This involved the removal of iron railings, the addition of steps, some seating around the monument, and cleaning the statue.
Immediately the seating started to be used and children can be seen playing ring a rosy around the base while waiting for their school bus.
When Covid- 19 arrived, it became evident that people needed safe outdoor spaces to meet and spend time in the company of others.
The Burren Lowlands CLG, who spearheaded the project, were given funding assistance in the form of a Town and Village Covid Response Grant funded by the Department of Community and Rural Development.
The group was assisted by the Economic, Rural and Community Development Unit of Galway County Council to secure this funding.
Local businesses and individuals also contributed. This allowed the project to progress to Phase 2, providing additional seating around the monument, incorporating planters between the seats and two additional seats and planters within the Market Square space.
Galway County Council secured funding under Active Travel to do the paving and the standing stones which surround and complete the new Square.
Burren Lowlands CLG consider this project a good example of community working together with the local council staff and its elected members to bring about positive change.
The civic reinvention of this public space has been described as a credit to all involved. There is an artistic element of fusion of the local landscape, legends and monuments incorporated into the stonework.
If you look closely, you will find images of Gort River Walk, the legend of the flying dishes and Dunguaire Castle and much more.
The collaboration of local artist Jethro Sheen, architect Brent Mostert and the Burren Lowlands CLG give this project a bespoke appeal that is unique to the area. It is a testament to community cooperation and creativity in public works.
Burren Lowlands is grateful for the extra mile Sheen Stone Works went for the project and the determination on Karen O’Neill’s behalf to complete this project.
Burren Lowlands have also thanked Councillor Joe Byrne who attended many meetings between those involved with the project over the past three years.
Gort Market Square is now a place for people to meet in an open, safe environment where they can share conversation, participate in pop up events, and just enjoy being part of a community.
“It was a privilege to be a part of the development of the square in Gort, and to work with the community to bring this project to fruition,” said stone artist Jethro Sheen of Sheen Stone Works, Gort.
The idea being to create an inviting space for people to feel comfortable and relaxed, while at the same time show case the wealth of local attractions the region has to offer.
“The wonderful nature, scenery, culture, mythology, archaeology, history, architecture, and the arts.
“Much of this is reflected in pictorial scenes on relief carved limestone panels surrounding the original monument. It is my hope that the newly interpreted square will contribute to the positive energy found throughout the unique character filled town of Gort, and therefore encouraging an ever more welcoming atmosphere of vibrancy and positivity for years to come.” 

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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