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.
A few years ago, I hauled the entire hard copy archive of the Advertiser up to M6 to Dublin to get it all scanned so that it would be preserved for ever. That tonne or so of yellowing old papers containing hundreds of thousands of pages were then individually scanned so that the changing commercial and cultural life of a city could be retained for future generations to look back on. (The result is contained on a free archive for all to see and use at archive.advertiser.ie) However, the net result of that journey is that the existence of such an archive gives us all perspective on the changing face of this city and how major projects have come and gone in the last fifty years.
This week we have news of what will perhaps be the two biggest projects in the west over the next decade. Contracts will be signed soon on the Tuam to Gort motorway which will create at least 1,500 jobs over the next three years, and in the city chambers this week, we heard of the advancement of the plans to develop Galway Harbour to the standard which will see it be able to compete with others and attract the lucrative cruise liner business.