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Galway City Council Turned Down Funding Application for Transatlantic Rower Damian Browne Homecoming

6th October 2022
Transatlantic Rower Damian Browne returns to Galway to a great reception in the docks
Transatlantic Rower Damian Browne returns to Galway to a great reception in the docks Credit: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Galway city’s mayor was advised against attending the official homecoming for transatlantic rower Damian Browne after an application for city council funding for the event was rejected.

Mayor of Galway Clodagh Higgins (FG) has declined to comment beyond stating that she had “other engagements” on the morning of Browne’s homecoming into Galway docks.

However, sources have said that the mayor was very keen to attend the event but was advised against it the night before due to Galway City Council’s lack of financial support for the official welcome.

In a statement, Mayor Higgins said that Browne “is a huge inspiration to us all”, and his story was one of “resilience, endurance and superior mental and physical strength”.

She said she wished to offer her heartfelt congratulations on a “wonderful achievement” and wished him “the very best in his next expedition”.

Hours after his early morning capsize off na Forbacha in a force nine gale, Browne was applauded by over 1,000 people in Galway docks when he was driven in by RIB through the lock gates.

When his vessel Cushlamachree was refloated by a community team out at na Forbacha, he returned to sea and rowed the vessel in through Galway dock gates just before they closed on a falling tide.

Galway City Council has confirmed that Project Empower - which was set up to back the transatlantic row planned by Browne and his close friend Fergus Farrell - did make an application to the Galway City Council marketing fund.

The detailed application submitted in 2021 outlined the many benefits to Galway city of the project and invited the city council to be the title partner for Project Empower at a value of €30,000 + Vat.

The city council said that the marketing promotion fund was established to ensure that the council could provide support for the holding of major events and festivals in the city.

“ Events or activities that would take place from October 2021 to April 2022 were eligible to apply,” it said.

Guidelines state that the funding “should only be provided to projects that will support local economic development, i.e. attracting or generating investment, spending, jobs or additional events in the city”.

" Funding should only be provided to projects and events that have a city-wide impact. This is not a fund for small-scale, local events nor is it an emergency fund for existing projects that may have lost other sources of funding,”it said.

It said that “proposals must detail the economic benefits of the activity or event”, and “the full extent of co-funding or matching funds either sought or obtained from other sources must be disclosed”.

“As Project Empower could not demonstrate a major impact in relation to attracting significant bed nights, it was deemed ineligible for this fund,” the city council statement said. Team

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