Eyre Square, but officially known as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, is a public park in Galway City which has a long and fascinating history that dates back to medieval times, when it was an open space in front of the town gate where markets were held.
Eyre Square was officially presented to the city in 1710 by Mayor Edward Eyre, from whom it took its name. He planted some ash trees and enclosed the park with a wooden fence. In 1801, General Meyrick built a stone wall around the square, which was then called Meyrick Square. In the mid-19th century, the park underwent a Georgian style redevelopment, with iron railings (which were reused to create the current fence around St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church) and paths.
In 1965, the square was renamed John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, in honour of the US president who visited Galway and made a speech in the square in 1963, shortly before his assassination. A monument dedicated to JFK was erected on the site of his address, and later replaced by a bust in 2005.
Eyre Square has undergone several renovations over the years, the most recent one being in 2006, which cost over €20 million. The square now features a modern design with paved paths, benches, sculptures and a playground. One of the most notable features of the square is the Quincentennial Fountain, which depicts a Galway Hooker, a traditional fishing boat that is unique to Galway. Another interesting feature is the Browne Doorway, which is a 17th-century stone arch that was originally part of the Browne family mansion on Lower Abbeygate Street. The doorway was moved to Eyre Square in 1905 and is now a symbol of Galway’s architectural heritage. In addition, during the summer months, flags bearing the crests of the historic 14 Tribe families of Galway can be seen at top mast of the 14 flag poles at the top of Eyre Square.
Eyre Square is not only a historical and cultural site, but also a lively and vibrant place where locals and visitors can relax, enjoy, and socialise. The square is surrounded by shops, restaurants, pubs, and hotels. The square hosts various events throughout the year, such as festivals, concerts and markets. Eyre Square is also a popular meeting point for people who want to explore the city centre or join one of the many walking tours that start from there. Eyre Square is a must-see attraction for anyone who wants to experience the essence of Galway City.
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