It is strangely easy to forget that Ireland is an island. Part of that comes from the fact that, unlike Britain, Spain, or Japan, we have no real naval tradition.
Yet if you want to leave Ireland, there are only two means - via sea or air. There are no roads to other nations, and no Channel Tunnel. It is then that our island status comes forcibly to mind, and we remember, as the old songs goes “we’re surrounded by water”.
Helicopters and Galway have always had a strange relationship. For a decade or so, the chopper was the preferred mode of transport for the moneyed classes who made their way to and from Ballybrit - the air above the city becoming almost as congested as the traffic lanes below.
However in recent years, the sound of a helicopter has taken on a more sombre resonance for the people of the city. Locals have become attuned to the sound and sight of the Sikorsky with its distinctive nose as it hovers above the city. In an era when news becomes instant, the sound of the helicopter, its beamlights focussed down on the city makes our social media light up with comments from people assuming that 'some poor person must in the water’.
It is amazing how much positivity can come out of a happening that seems to bring nothing but sadness.
Six years ago this week, a little girl passed away after a brief bout with illness. She was a dote, with the face of an angel, as you can see from the photograph here. Her parents must have thought she would be a heartbreaker, but not in the way they imagined. On that night just 300 weeks ago, she took seriously ill and by the next day she had passed away, taken by the scourge of meningitis that has visited so many families across this country for years.