The nightlife scene in Galway has undergone immense change which began even before the outbreak of Covid-19.
Recent developments have seen planning granted for an extension to the Skeffington Arms Hotel with the building housing DNA Nightclub set to be demolished as part of the plan.
It is the latest in a string of recent disappointing outcomes for nightclubs in Galway City.
The first domino to fall in terms of Galway nightclubs came pre-Covid, though. Carbon on Eglinton Street, which shut in August 2019 and is to be replaced by a branch of the UK-based pub chain Wetherspoons, though it remains unopened almost three years later.
The impact of the pandemic on nightclubs was greater than perhaps any other industry with such venues unable to open for almost 600 days between March 2020 and their first Covid-era reopening in October 2021.
Despite the short-lived October reopening Electric and Halo on Abbeygate Street shut its doors after over three decades in business.
The building is now on the market and hope remains with the owners seeking to ensure it will be continued to be used as a late-night venue by its new custodians.
“We hope that this house will continue as a place for dancing and find a new owner with the same enthusiasm for bringing people together,” the venue’s owners said in a statement on social media on November 25.
“Even though we may not be the ones to reap the rewards, we hope a brighter future lies ahead for Irish nightclubs.”
The optimistic message of that statement from Electric has perhaps not been reflected in the latest development with DNA’s future up in the air.
NUI Galway Students’ Union President Róisín Nic Lochlainn said the nightclub industry found itself “completely abandoned” by Government throughout the pandemic.
“A lot more could have been done to prevent nightclub closures over the pandemic.
“Give Us The Night and various voices from the sector were calling on the government to provide grants to help keep nightclubs afloat during pandemic, reduce insurance costs and get rid of the need to apply for the late license fee every night they open.”
Ms Nic Lochlainn said the current state of Galway’s nightlife was a particular indictment given the city’s reputation as a destination for students.
“It is a travesty that we not only as a student city but also as a European city are so far behind others in terms of nightlife, it is simply not good enough,” she said.
“When moving to college, it’s no secret that a factor for a lot of young people when choosing their city is the nightlife. Galway has went from having a renowned nightlife to having absolutely no nightclubs left.”
The Students’ Union President called for Galway City Council “to do better”, remarking that the issue “seems to be non existent and at the bottom of the agenda.”
Final year Geography and English student Jack Osbourne said it was “a real shame” to see Galway City’s night-time scene in its current state.
“They’re really important to some people’s social lives. With NUIG and GMIT in Galway it’s ridiculous that there really isn’t much support for [nightclubs] in general.
Mr Osbourne said he was worried that late night venues might not come back if their former spaces are repurposed into something else.
“I think nightclubs will come back eventually, the buildings are there and unless they renovate them it’s huge amounts of space that’s just sitting there.
“If those nightclub spaces get renovated into something else I think it’s very unlikely we will get some back to Galway,” he concluded.