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Award-Winning Artist Alan Clarke Commission ‘Gailbhe’ to Grace New Salmon Weir Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge


Award-Winning Artist Alan Clarke Commission ‘Gailbhe’ to Grace New Salmon Weir Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge

New Statue will Celebrate Mythological Princess of the Firbolg Tribe

Award-winning artist Alan Clarke has been commissioned to develop a spectacular new sculpture for Galway City. ‘Gailbhe’ will be a stunning visual representation of Galvia or Gaillimh, who was a mythological princess of the Firbolg tribe, after whom Galway is said to be named. The sculpture will grace the new Salmon Weir Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge. This project is funded by the Department of Transport through the Percent for Art scheme.

Alan Clarke submitted his proposal in response to an open invitation for expressions of interest by Galway City Council in summer 2023, along with 26 other artists. He was selected as the winning artist in late 2023 by an evaluation panel of multidisciplinary experts. Among his many accomplishments, Alan Clarke is the only Irish person to be accepted as a member of the internationally acclaimed Society of Portrait Sculptors. This exclusive 70 year-old society has just 46 members worldwide.

Speaking about his winning submission, Alan Clarke said he is looking forward to creating this special sculpture for the people of Galway and the many national and international visitors to the city. ‘I am absolutely delighted to have won the commission to create this sculpture, I’m looking forward immensely to getting to work on this project over the coming weeks and months. I believe I have created a design that is captivating and unique, that will enhance an already very beautiful setting. I hope that the people of Galway, and visitors to the city, will feel the same when it is unveiled later this year.’

Arts Officer Ruth Mulhern said ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for people to engage with a new artwork in Galway, which is so renowned as a cultural city. The piece will represent Galway’s creative energy and herald new opportunities for art in public spaces which will also further enhance our reputation for producing great art.’

Mayor of the City of Galway, Cllr Eddie Hoare, commented, ‘As a former European Capital of Culture, and a city of festivals and the arts, I welcome this commission, particularly as it will be in such a high-profile, and visible location. The new Salmon Weir Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge was opened to the public in May 2023 - creating a focal point for locals and tourists alike to cross the river on foot or by bike, taking in views including the Cathedral, Salmon Weir Bridge, aquatic and airborne wildlife, natural and built heritage synonymous with the city – and a new public space for the people of Galway. This commission will add another element of attraction and interest to this space for all those crossing the bridge – I look forward to seeing Galvia when she takes her place by the river Corrib overlooking her namesake city’.

The new Salmon Weir Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge was funded by the Department of Transport through the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) Active Travel Programme, and European Regional Development Funding (ERDF). The Galvia commission is delivered through the Percent for Art Scheme as a portion of the bridge’s overall capital funding. The commissioning of the new sculpture is being managed by the Arts Office of Galway City Council. 

Members of the public are currently being invited to make suggestions as to the long-term name of the bridge, with submissions open until Sunday, February 11th.  Follow updates on the project on the Galway City Arts Office social media channels.

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