Changes in our city

Dear Galway city council,

As a native of Galway city and a young mother, I felt the urge to write an open letter to you folks up there making decisions about what one can and cannot do on our beaches, prom and parks and public spaces.

When I first read about this, I admit, I thought it was ‘Galway Daily News’ writing one of their satirical articles.

I quickly discovered that this was not a satirical article.

Your proposal is that anyone caught breaking these by-laws would be fined on the spot ( 75 euro) and if they refuse to pay that, they could face a fine on conviction of up to 1,900 euro.

Well, let’s look at these by-laws, shall we?

“No person shall cycle or use any skateboard, roller skate, roller blades or such apparatus in a park or open space in such manner to cause nuisance or annoyance to other users of the park or open space or cause damage to any public property”

So, will you fine me when I run with my son’s wheelchair through any public place if only to hear him squeal with delight ? His squealing may be seen as a nuisance to some, but to me it is the most sweetest sound on this earth. I don’t know how long my son will be able to express his excitement , he loves nothing more than being pushed in his chair along the Promenade in Salthill with the wind hitting his face.

I often push him around (in this manner; him squealing with delight as I run red faced and out of breath!) parks, public places and playgrounds too as it is hard to find a suitable playground for him to enjoy without his chair.

He is losing his ability to walk, so this is the least I can do for him. And you want to fine me for that?

Who decides if this is a nuisance or not?

Obviously no one should deliberately damage public property , but those people who do that kind of thing, normally aren’t toddlers, young children or families. Let’s be honest, those kind of people will damage public property whether or not the proposed by-laws pass.

“No person, club or organisation shall organise or take part in the game of football or any other games or athletics in such a place in a park or open space as the Council set apart for that purpose and then only subject to and in accordance with such conditions as may be set out by the Council”

Again I have to ask; if my three sons are down at the beach and my toddler takes a ball ( let’s say he hid it in his older brothers bag unbeknownst to me or his dad) and throws it at his brother while we are helping his eldest brother from his wheelchair.

His brother throws it back and they begin to play ball. They are having fun. They are throwing the ball to and fro when suddenly my eldest son decides he wants to play – he can be boisterous and get overly excited – he doesn’t show an interest in much these days apart from TV; imagine my heart as I watch him interact with his two younger brothers — at what point do I take the ball away? At what point do you or whoever will enforce these by-laws , come to me and fine me?

What about the teenagers, running around on the beach chasing a ball and laughing ? Are they going to be fined for having fun too?

Have you got amenities to facilitate our teenagers of today and those of tomorrow if they are not permitted to roller skate , skateboard or just be teenagers without the fear of being fined?

“To pluck, cut or remove any flower or blossom or any fruit on any tree, shrub or plant growing therein other than an employee of the council”

When I was a child, we used to go on ‘nature walks’ up along Threadneedle road.We were encouraged by our teachers to take leaves and berries and pretty much anything else we could find in relation to nature – would these pupils be fined now along with the school and teacher?

I can tell you now, there isn’t a Galwegian alive who hasn’t done this and not in a nasty way either; we pluck flowers with our kiddies, we pluck flowers because they are pretty , we pluck them because perhaps we are meeting someone who could use a single flower to brighten their day up– I again, have to ask , are you going to fine the little old woman who does this every Sunday on her way back from Mass?

I understand you want to keep the city tidy, pretty and clean.

Let me tell you, as a mother who’s son is terminally ill , there is nothing nicer or prettier than seeing a bunch of children climbing trees, playing ball and laughing their little hearts out — things my son can no longer do and you guys want to purposely stop children from doing this?

Many tourists come to watch the sun go down on Galway Bay. Are you going to fine them too if they take up a pair of rollerblades and whizz down the promenade or heaven forbid their child climbs on one of the benches provided only for sitting on?

How far is too far?

Put up notices- cover yourselves that way, make it clear that rollerblading, climbing trees and playing ball is all at your own risk — please don’t take children’s childhood away and the fantastic Promenade – where you can see all walks of life enjoying the view, the fresh sea air and the atmosphere – where you could see a woman in her fifties on rollerblades while her dog drags her on its lead excitedly heading towards the sandy beaches. Where teenagers laughter fills the air as they egg each other on to jump off the diving board in Blackrock . Where families pack their cars for a day at the beach remembering to bring more than one ball so there is no fighting between siblings. Where many childhood , teenage and life memories are made…

It is sad to see that these proposed by-laws are real, that there are people in our City Council who actually believe these laws will improve our beautiful city–

Thank you for reading ;

Geraldine Renton; mother to three boys, who enjoy climbing, football and whizzing around on the Salthill Promenade.

Ps- My son would like to know if he is allowed to fly his kite still? How far is too far?

(The public have until October 6th to make submission to try to get the Council to hear us — here is the online Petition if you’d like to sign it.)


  1. Well done, Geraldine! Sounds like your city council intends to create a public space where the public isn’t welcome! If you can’t be rolling, throwing, playing in parks then what’s the point of parks?

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