Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Sense at last on Valentia Station
It's rarely I blog about South Kerry, 'm'áit dúchais' but tonight is genuinely an occasion for celebration for an embattled community. As a local election candidate in the area almost ten years ago I was one of those campaigning against the closure of Valentia coastguard station and the downgrading of Valentia weather station, which is of course based in Cahersiveen and was where my Dad worked for many years.
While we didn't succeed in retaining all the services in Cahersiveen, the coastguard station survived until Minister Noel Dempsey, yes him the Minister who tried to take away Kilkenny's city status and to reintroduce college fees, tried to close the scenic but extremely effective station. Here's what he said in 2007.
"I have confirmed that locating one on the east coast and one on the west coast is the preferred option and that the east coast centre should be co-located with the HQ."
The station has provided a superb service to seafarers for generations and provides invaluable employment to a small fishing community which has been ravaged by emigration and the decline of fishing.
Radio communication has a historic place in the life of Valentia, putting it at the heart of the telecommunications history of the world. It was from just down the road in Knightstown that the first trans-atlantic cable was laid in 1866, sending the first electronic message from Europe to America.
Now the doughty fighters of 'The Island' and their allies all over the Iveragh penninsula have succeeded in defeating yet another Minister. The fact that they had to campaign nationally for ten years will give the lie to claims from both John O' Donoghue and the Healy Rae clan that they were responsible for victory. Instead the people of Oileán Dairbhre should take a bow at having stood up for themselves. Well done also to Tommy Broughan TD who as our communications spokesperson has consistently stood up for the people pf the area. Like us in Kilkenny and Carlow, the people of South Kerry badly need the return of a Labour voice to represent them in Dáil Éireann.
To appreciate the history of seafaring in the area, one only needs to recall the words of that great local poet Tomás Rua Ó Súilleabháin in his famous poem and song over 150 years ago:
'Amhrán na Leabhar'
Go Cuan Bhéil Inse casadh mé,
Cois Góilín aoibhinn Dairbhre,
Mar a seoltar flít na farraige,
Thar sáile i gcéin.
I Portmagee do stadas seal,
Faoi thuairim intinn maitheasa,
D'fhonn bheith sealad eatarthu,
Mar mháistir léinn.
Is gearr gur chuala an eachtara,
Ag cách mo léan!
Gur i mBord Eoghain Fhinn do chailleathas,
An t-árthach tréan.
Do phreab mo chroí le hatuirse,
I dtaobh loinge an taoisigh chalma,
Go mb'fhearrde an tír í 'sheasamh seal,
Do ráib an tséin.