Urban Blueways & Greenways Part 1 seminar

Organiser: Galway National Park City initiative

The Urban Blueways & Greenways Part 1 seminar/webinar will have presentations from members of local government/state agencies of four cities-Belfast, Chicago, Chattanooga and Glasgow-who will give an overview of their urban waterways and associated greenways past and present. The aim is to provide information to Galwegians and others from all walks of life on how such urban infrastructure can be improved in order to meet the needs of city dwellers and of biodiversity.

The seminar is part of the ‘This is the World Calling Galway’ series (learning from the experiences of other cities, in Ireland and worldwide) that will be normally hosted bimonthly by the Galway National Park City initiative on topics relevant to sustainable city development such as Energy, Biodiversity, Urban Food and Sustainability in large institutions.

The meeting will be chaired by Phil James co-founder of the Galway Waterways Foundation, member of Corrib BEO, National Heritage Award winner 2022 and a champion of the Galway National Park City initiative.

Special Guest of Honour will be 87 year old Míceál P O’Cionnaith (Michael Keaney), a man who has left such a positive mark on the city’s built and natural environment during his tenure as engineer with Galway Corporation (now Galway City Council) from 1964 until his retirement in 2001. 

The event can be attended either directly at Data Science Institute(DSI) or online.
See registration details below.

1 Belfast

Michele Bryans will talk about the Connswater Greenway project and the effect it has had specifically on the east side of Belfast, and generally for the city.

Michele Bryans is Chief Executive of East Side Partnership, where she has overall responsibility for management and strategic development.  Michele joined East Side Partnership in June 2015 with previous roles in the organisation including East Side Greenways Manager and Community Engagement and Volunteer Manager (Connswater Community Greenway).  She has worked in various youth and community roles in east Belfast since 2000 and sits on a variety of management committees.  Michelle is passionate about social regeneration and the positive impact of connecting people and place in order to sustain healthy and resilient communities.

2 Chattanooga

Blythe Bailey will talk about the blue/green transformation of Chattanooga in Tennessee, a city that was once known as the most polluted city in the USA.

Blythe Bailey is the Director of Design and Connectivity for the Chattanooga Department of Parks and Outdoors.  An urban designer and architect, Blythe has focused his career on the pursuit of built environments that are sensitive to natural resources and safe and comfortable for all people.  Blythe’s experience is varied, with previous work as a consulting architect and business owner emphasizing adaptive reuse and new-construction architecture and more recently the Administrator for the Chattanooga Department of Transportation where he pursued a mission of assuring streets were great public spaces that safely accommodate all users. 
In his new role in the Department of Parks and Outdoors, Blythe oversees its citywide planning process for all parks and the outdoors, which includes greenways and blueways, and manages development projects such as a new skatepark and a university Greenway. Blythe is a life-long Chattanoogan with professional experience that also includes mathematics, education (teaching and coaching), and historic preservation.  He has a reasonable suspicion that his love for the Appalachian mountains might come from his one quarter (McNeely) Northern Ireland ancestry!

3 Chicago

Michelle Woods will talk about the restoration of the Chicago River and what it has meant for Chicago.
Michelle Woods has more than twenty-eight years of experience in municipal government working for the City of Chicago. She is a Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Asset Management for the Department of Assets, Information and Services. She has been the project manager for Millennium Park and the Chicago Riverwalk and has worked on developing the Chicago Riverwalk into a viable City asset allowing uninterrupted access along the Chicago River from Lake Street to the Lake front. 

Previously, Michelle worked for the Department of Transportation’s Division of Engineering on the design and construction of $650,000,000 in infrastructure projects.

4 Glasgow and Forth & Clyde

Richard Millar will talk about the transformation of Scotland’s canal network especially in the urban context.

Richard Millar is Scottish Canals’ Chief Operating Officer. Richard is responsible for the operational management and development of Scotland’s 140 miles of canal network and the associated fundraising to maintain and enhance it. Since joining the organisation in 1999, he has led several high-profile regeneration projects, including the £83.4m Millennium Link Project, one of the largest canal restoration projects ever to take place in Britain. The Millennium Link Project saw the successful re-opening of the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals, returning them to a navigable state for the first time since the 1960’s, and the delivery of the world’s only rotating boat lift, The Falkirk Wheel which re-connects the canals and operates as a successful visitor centre attracting over 500,000 visitors each year.

Richard played a pivotal role in the creation of The Helix. The £43 million project has transformed 350 hectares of underused land between Grangemouth and Falkirk into a new visitor attraction, parkland, and marine hub with the Forth & Clyde Canal at its heart. The Helix is also home to The Kelpies – the world’s largest pair of equine sculptures. More recently he has played an important part in kickstarting the regeneration of North Glasgow with Pinkston Watersports, Scotland’s first and only artificial white-water course, acting as a catalyst for the widespread regeneration of North Glasgow which continues today with the delivery of the £14m Stockingfield Bridge, a major piece of active travel infrastructure, which will re-connect three communities for the first time in over 200 years.

Galway 1

Míceál P O’Cionnaith will be the special guest of honour at The Urban Blueways & Greenways Part 1 seminar/webinar
Throughout his career as engineer with Galway City Council(Corporation), Míceál had a passion for our city’s built and natural heritage, that included parks, old buildings, waterways and vintage machinery.
It’s hard to imagine now that only a few decades ago many of our landmark buildings which contribute hugely to the attractiveness of Galway city were once derelict and on the verge of collapse.  The attractive streetscapes of our Latin Quarter once contained roofless buildings with trees growing up through them and many of our flourishing restaurants and cafés occupy formerly derelict buildings.  Míceál took his love for Galway City and a vision of what it could look like and found a way, on very limited budgets, to bring back various buildings from near ruin. Today these buildings are living, usable spaces, serving as a reminder of the roots of our medieval city and giving us all pride in those origins.

Among his many notable achievements were:

  • Leading the team that established the city’s first municipal museum in 1976 (near to the site of the present museum).
  • Preserving the original Waterworks buildings on the Dyke Road dating from 1867 as well as in the sourcing and installation of the nearby metal footbridges over the Terryland River.
  • Opening up of Barna Woods and Merlin Woods as public amenities.

Galway 2

A special exhibit on display will be a physical three-dimensional model of the Waterways of Galway city that was made by the senior pupils of St. Patrick’s National School in 2005 under the supervision of teacher Niall Coll.

To register for the online option, Click Here 

To register and to attend in person event taking place at the Data Science Institute of the University of Galway, Click Here  


Urban Blueways & Greenways, Part 2 seminar/webinar, Dec 14th
A Blueways/Greenways Part 2 webinar/seminar with a stronger emphasis on the greenways component will take place on December 14th with presentations from a second group of cities.
These two events will be the first in a thematic series
known as This is the World Calling Galway hosted bimonthly by the Galway National Park City initiative on related topics such as Energy, Biodiversity, Urban Food and Sustainability in large institutions.






Data Science Institute, University of Galway, Dangan Business Park, Galway


90 mins


general public, schools, researchers, businesses, politicians, state agencies, government/local government staff, health professionals, environmentalists, communities, NGOs and members of sustainable city groups worldwide