Sea Echoes: Cork should be Ireland’s maritime capital, with the Harbour as the jewel in the crown

Sea Echoes: Cork should be Ireland’s maritime capital, with the Harbour as the jewel in the crown
Cork Harbour's shape means it's one of the safest in the world. Pic: Robert Batema

The River Lee flows magnificently through lovely cityscapes and countryside to the sea, passing villages, caressing an island town and harbour islands storied in maritime history, including the operational base of the nation’s Naval Service. 

Its branches and tributaries embrace other towns and villages along the harbour front as they join forces on their way to connect Cork to the sea. 

On the shoreline, at Ringaskiddy the National Maritime College and a number of world-respected maritime research and development organisations are based. 

The harbour houses a cruise ship base and an international port. It is one of the safest in the world, guarded by an entrance, dominated by two forts where Roche’s Point Lighthouse guides mariners safely.

Cork Harbour enshrines national history, particularly in the maritime sphere. Why then, is Cork not promoted by the City and County Councils and those who lead public opinion as the maritime capital of Ireland?


CHASE, the Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment has battled for the harbour for a very long number of years. It has described the sixth deferral of a decision about the Indaver incinerator at Ringaskiddy as showing “very little regard for the people.” 

Bord Pleanála has not treated Cork properly. The Indaver application decision was originally due on July 12 of last year. That was deferred to October 26, then moved January 24 of this year, then to March 22, August 10 and September 12. 

Now the Bord has said the date is “in the system” for October 25, but “this is not exact.” CHASE said this week: “How long can this go on.” 

When I sought comment about its contacts with Indaver in comparison to opponents, the Bord wanted to know who my contacts are.

I refused. Journalists do not disclose their sources. However, its attitude causes me to wonder what is going on behind the scenes and could it be true, as one of my sources claims, that “they are trying to cross all the T’s and dot the I’s because they fear many more years of legal challenges to their decision.” 

Cork’s Dáil Deputies should be more active in this matter if they have an interest in Cork Harbour.


The County Council’s Library Headquarters on the Carrigrohane Road is now staging the Edward Bransfield Exhibition which is open from 9am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays until September 22. It is worth going to see the story of Cork’s Antarctic explorer and the ongoing campaign to have him nationally and internationally recognised.


The United Nations maritime agency, the International Maritime Organisation, brought a key international measure for environmental protection into force last Friday but our Government isn’t supporting it. The measure attempts to stop the spread of invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water which isused for stability and structural integrity.

“A landmark step towards halting havoc for local ecosystems,” IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said. 63 nations have signed the measure. Ireland has not. The IMO told me:

“We don’t know why.”

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