For too long we have looked away from the sea, been blind to its potential, to its possibilities. Even when JFK mentioned going to the Claddagh and seeing the O’Flahertys working on the docks in Boston on that clear day, we put it away with our misty-eyed memories and never gave it another thought.
But the sea, our sea, our ocean, laps right up to our coast here in this city. In times past, it brought many colourful and mysterious people to our shores, merchants, sailors, travellers. They brought with them ideas, and cultures and ways of living, that over the centuries went on to make Galway and its people a place and kind of its own. And to be fair, this difference has been maintained in the city and it is a difference that we try to implement.
It is because we are so open to being different that the city has the potential to be even better than it is, to be more inclusive, and understanding, and welcoming. To creating the sort of city that we would all like to live and work in.
When technology changed the way we travel, we no longer felt the need to look to the sea, so we turned inland.
Last Friday, at a ceremony in the City Museum, Failte Ireland announced that it was making their single biggest investment in a new tourism attraction by pledging the guts of €7 million for the creation of a new Atlantic Museum — one that will be constructed at Comerford House at the Spanish Arch, and which will incorporate the current city museum which will be rebranded afterwards.
It will once again make the sea a virtue, one that should be appreciated for all it has done for us. It will also show the symbolism of the sea and let us understand that it represents an openness — that there is one side of us that always feels the breeze, that is always exposed to new ideas and new cultures.
The new museum will no doubt go on to develop an appreciation of the city tribes, so that we wil know them in ways that are not just flags and roundabouts. The celebration of the tribes that make up the city is a welcome notion — and one that is most current in its topicality.
Last week in our letters page, there was a letter referring to the impact of multiculturalism. A longer version of the letter than was intended to publish was published and contained some sentiments that are not in sync with the ethos of many in the city, and indeed of this newspaper or myself. While always being willing to offer platforms for varied opinion, on this occasion, this caused some upset. For any offence caused, I apologise.