An Mheitheal Rothar came about after a good idea was pursued with determination. In September 2010 The NUIG Ecology Society was having one of it’s first meeting of the college year, the simple question ‘what fun initiatives could we pursue in the coming year which would have a positive impact for the local environment?’ was asked. One of the ideas suggested was to establish an autonomous space where students could come and repair their bicycles in an environment which encouraged peer to peer learning, civic and environmental responsibility and empowered people in their own abilities.
In October 2010 we began engaging with the university to try and secure a space.
In March 2012, after extended, difficult negotiations with the NUIG Buildings Office a space was secured in Block R on Earls Island, which had been lying unused for nearly 2 years. As part of a winning streak, in that same week we were successful in the NUIG Students Union Enterprise Awards; after 18 months of hard work, An Mheitheal Rothar became a reality. After some delays renovations began on the newly named “Ecospace” in August.
From August 2012 to Feb. 2013 our volunteer group grew and we designed and built the workshop, alongside developing our structures as a non-profit community group and training and up-skilling our volunteers in bicycle maintenance and other skills. The grand launch of the workshop was on Sunday the 16 of June 2013 as part of National Bike Week. It was a fantastic day and with support from the Galway Transportation Unit, in Galway City Council, our anniversary bicycle repair and safety check day is now a regular part of National Bike Week.
We began to have open public workshops where people could drop in and volunteers would work with them to repair their cycles on a donation basis. In Summer 2013 we ran Youth in Action Project part funded by the European Commission and Leargas. During the project we engaged with a wide number of other community organisations in events which intended to encourage cycling and make the workshop better known in the community. The project also involved training and development for our volunteers and the painting of a mural on the outside of the workshop, made in conjunction with local artist Margaret Nolan and young people from the Youth Advocate Programme (YAP). 2014 saw us continue to grow and work with more community groups. Our 2nd anniversary was held in Millenium Park as part of a “family fun day” with Galway Community Circus and Street Feast Galway. We also began running structured classes in conjunction with the GRETB (Galway – Roscommon Education and Training Board).
In 2015 we will continue with our regular workshops but we will also begin to provide workshops for local schools and community groups and we hope to begin to provide evening classes for those interested – please see Bicycle Maintenance Training.