We underestimate the possibilities of our friend, the sea

For most of the time, it just sits there, the pretty backdrop to the postcard that is our city and county, calm and rocking, its gentle waves lovingly lapping at our coast like a friendly puppy. And because it has been such an acquiescent friend, we have tended to disregard all of its possibilities, the good and the bad.

This week we have seen the enormous, ferocious, animalistic power of the sea.

Because we have co-existed fairly cordially with the sea for many decades, we have tended to underestimate its enormous potential to nourish us, to entertain us, to help us earn a crust, and its ultimate power, the ability to wreck our homes, to maim us, or take our lives.

If any one person or organisation had such a range of features, we would be in awe at its ability to encompass so many aspects of human life.

On the islands and on the coasts in west Connemara, there is a greater appreciation of the potential of the sea, because it plays such a large role in their everyday lives.

Tomorrow Galway Harbour Company is to make an announcement regarding the possibilities of the sea at a morning press conference. What it will be revealing is the furtherance of its plans to develop the maritime aspect of the city so that the sea becomes a more integral part of all our lives.

For too long, Galway has looked towards the east, the rail infrastructure, the roads network, the airport connections. We look towards the east for the good reason too is that we believe there is not much west of us. Not much land perhaps, but perhaps what lies west of us offers us far greater potential than anything to the east.

The sheer possibilities of the sea as a nourisher of our economy has been borne out in recent weeks with NUI Galway research showing that the ocean economy is worth billions to this country — and probably a lot more, if its riches were tapped correctly.

Perhaps too if the sea played a far greater role in our lives, we would be better prepared in terms of flood defences to prevent the devastation that habitually befalls parts of this town. We have to be thankful though that our storm and our floods was but a raindrop to that experienced in the Philippines and that Christine left our shores without taking a life or causing any serious injury.

Finally, can I just say a thank you to all of the people who came out in such numbers to help combat the effects of the floods and the winds last week. The fire crews, the gardai, the city council and county council crews, the ESB, eircom, local volunteers who all did their best to make life easier for those whose lives were disrupted because of the storms. Together, our communities have faced the worst of these storms and with the proper help from local and national government, we will get through it and rebuild our sea walls, roads and promenades.

No neart go cur le cheile. Go raibh maith agat.


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