We, all of us, have a problem with keeping things in mind, with remembering what it is important to remember, while allowing other things that might have seemed important at the time to fade. We can, perhaps, be forgiven for such lapses of recollection. We are, after all, bombarded 24/7 with an unprecedented flood of information, from every corner of the globe.
On April 26, 1986 an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, at that time under the control of the Soviet Union, released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which subsequently spread over much of the western USSR and Europe. It is estimated that over 200 times the amount of radiation released at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was spewed out of the nuclear reactor. It seemed almost unimaginable at the time. There are some who can still recall gazing into the sky over Ireland in the wake of the disaster, atavistically, as if the sky might suddenly show the very form of the angel of death in the clear, blue skies of the days that followed the explosion.
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’.