As a technology reporter in Dublin, it’s easy to forget there’s a much bigger country than the Fair City. Forgive me. Big things are happening all over this island.
During an after-hours event hosted by MojoCon, I met John Deely. I quickly could tell he had a passion for making his community even better. When I met him the next day to get a tour of Galway’s tech scene and his project, the Vault, I knew there was even more than I expected.
Right now, the Vault doesn’t look like much. It’s a large empty underground space near Galway’s train station. Deeley says it was once built to be a nightclub, but that never happened. It’s been empty all along.
“I think this will be putting a flag in the ground and Galway is leading the way,” says Deely.
Deeley wants to turn the space into a haven for young people in Galway. The Vault, designed by Irish-born and Amsterdam-based architect Daryl Mulvihill, will have a bouldering wall, skateboarding ramps, plus concept kitchens and most importantly co-op workspace. The 1,300 square meter facility is expected to open later this year.
“What would one keep in a vault?” asks Deely. “If the young people’s creativity and imagination is the most precious thing, then that’s what we’re going to bring in here. It’s going to be a breeding ground for more of that.”
— The Vault (@vaultgalway) December 10, 2016
There are already several teenagers who shared an interest in using the space says, Deely. One young man, Garreth Smith, has several dozen ideas in the works, including a system of making skateboards out of recycled potato crisp packets. Smith created this video show off how to make Bruscair Boards. He says he is currently working on some other uses for recycled materials. [Editor’s note: you really should watch this video]
Deely envisions it as a community centre that also makes money. He says on any given day there may be adults taking an exercise class or families climbing on the bouldering wall. It’s all about sustaining the facility.
For teens, Deely wants a space where they can gather for year-round activities, without worrying about the weather.
He says, “Galway is one of the most amazing cities in the world. The quality of life is hard to match, but it can be wet.”
The Vault is one part of several innovative developments happening in Galway. Just upstairs from the Vault is the Superpixel Labs co-working space. Deely also showed me the Portershed, another co-working space housed in a building that used to hold the Guinness shipped by train from Dublin. Both facilities have expansion plans in the works.
— PorterShed (@portershed) May 9, 2017
Deely’s brings a unique perspective to the development. He doesn’t come from technology but retail. In 2011 he opened the DC Skateboarding store in Galway, the first in Europe. After several years living in Dublin, he wanted to move back to Galway, where he grew up.
His plans don’t end in Galway. Deely envisions other spaces like this across the west of Ireland. One feature of the Vault he mentioned several times was a projector screen that comes down over the rock wall. The screen could connect Galway with spaces in other towns electronically.
“We always had to work hard and graft, but there’s a deep raw creativity in most of the people here,” says Deely.
When the Vault opens, Deely hopes to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs across the west coast.