Proposed Major Industrial Development for Athenry – Spring 2004
When the IDA announced their plans to develop a 300-acre Science and Technology Park at Athenry it opened a new chapter in the town’s history and in the development of East Galway.
The announcement itself was quite low key. Made to a meeting of Galway County Council, there was no fanfare of national publicity and as a result it seems to have almost passed unnoticed.
It shouldn’t of course because this plan, if even partly fulfilled, will change the whole landscape of Athenry physically, socially and economically.
Why so large? And why Athenry? Based on both Irish and International experience it has been found that major world corporations like to base their plants close together forming a pool of experienced talented workers and centred on a site close to third level colleges and the infrastructure needed to service their needs.
Therefore, a site of 300 acres or so would accommodate four or five major manufacturing research plants in a campus style development. These concerns would be world leaders in their chosen field. Projects of this size are quite scarce with maybe less than a dozen built around the world in any year. So, the IDA intends the Athenry site to be an elite site catering only for these major international projects.
Athenry has been chosen, it seems, because all the requirements necessary for such an Industrial Park are present. Major new road projects going North-South and East- West are planned to meet at Athenry. The site has access to the railway and its junction at Athenry, to the new gas pipeline, to an updated electricity supply and to broadband technology.
The IDA representatives were somewhat vague when it came to the location of the site but speculation since seems to centre on the land at Mellows College. Local people would greet that development with mixed feelings. Having seen the College develop over the decades there would be great regret at any reduction of its links with agriculture.
The Science and Technology Park if fully complete would employ in excess of 5000 people with a further 15,000 employed in service and downstream projects. This scale of development would therefore involve a population increase in the region of 40,000within a 50-mile radius. This would pose certain questions in regard to local infrastructure. Any development of this size would be unthinkable without a major investment plan for the whole of East Galway and especially Athenry. To co-ordinate this it is proposed that the relevant bodies get together to form a committee’ to advance these plans. It is vital that Athenry would have a major input into this committees’ Work.
The timescale for this project is in the medium term with the end of the decade as a suggested date. That will mean a very interesting and challenging five years ahead for the community in the area. If successful it will mean profound change and Athenry will be the engine for growth in the whole West Coast.
Written by To be confirmed!
Published here 23 Aug 2023 and originally published Spring 2004