Over the last decade, Phil James has been the key civic advocate in promoting the need to protect and reenergise the waterways of Galway city. He co-founded the Galway Waterways Foundation to raise awareness of the magnificent resource that the city has at its disposal; to cooperate with the government bodies to maintain and manage Galway’s waterways; and to develop them for the benefit of Galway residents, visitors, and the natural world.
Galway is blessed with thirteen kilometres of interconnected rivers and canals spread out over more than 10 separate water courses. All the water that rises in the Carra-Mask-Corrib lake catchment region empties to the sea through this network. This explains why the Corrib River is one of the fastest in Europe carrying as it does an average of 100 cubic meters of water every second. This is enough to fill a 25-meter swimming pool 16 times in one minute. Over the centuries these rivers and canals have fed the city, provided its drinking water, defended its walls, powered its industries, and provided transportation to the Connemara hinterland. Sadly, in the 20th and 21st centuries these practical uses of this unique river
and canal system grew increasingly redundant in the face of rail and road traffic, electricity, and modern life. The consequence of neglect is reflected in overgrown banks, littered beds, and the rusted relics of a once vibrant water-powered industries. Phil wants all stakeholders to work together to reverse these unfortunate conditions and create a life-affirming amenity, visitor attraction, clean energy source, and haven for wildlife.