Tragóidí

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Téann na milliúin turasóir ar longa cúrsála gach bliain. Ní chuireann sin iontas orm. Is féidir leat cuairt a thabhairt ar cheithre nó cúig thír taobh istigh de sheachtain. Tá achan áis ar bord loinge: bialanna le bia den scoth, caifí, beáir, amharclann, leabharlann, pictiúrlann, giomnáisiam, siopaí, linn snámha agus a lán áiseanna eile. Tá gach compord ann. Milltear na paisinéirí. Ach léiríonn an tragóid amach ó chosta na hIodála an deireadh seachtaine seo caite go mbíonn caighdeán ard sábháilteachta de dhíth i gcónaí. Tá an fharraige cairdiúil ach is féidir léi bheith míthrócaireach chomh maith. Ní thig leat bheith siúráilte di. Tubaiste uafásach a bhí ann do chlanna na ndaoine a fuair bás, nó a gortaíodh. Agus tragóid chomh maith do mhíle oibrí a chaill a bpoist agus gach rud a bhí acu. Ón Triú Domhan cuid mhaith acu. Tá a dteaghlaigh ag brath ar a bpá agus beidh sé doiligh acu obair eile a fháil anois : is dócha go mbeidh níos lú daoine ag iarraidh dul ar turas báid go ceann tamaill.

Cailleadh cúigear nuair a bhuail trálaer carraigeacha ag Bréantrá, Contae Chorcaí, Dé Domhnaigh - tragóid eile, daoine eile faoi bhrón, cé nach raibh na ceannlínte chomh mór sin.

Tá a fhios ag muintir Thír Chonaill gur namhaid millteanach í an fharraige in amanna. Léirigh TG4 scannán faisnéise iontach faoi Thubaiste Árainn Mhór ar na mallaibh: cailleadh 19 duine cúpla slat ón chósta agus iad ag filleadh ó bhaint na bprátaí in Albain 75 bliain ó shin.

D’fhulaing iascairi Inis Eoghain go mór i rith na mblianta. Tháinig feabhas ar na háiseanna sna cuanta, d’éirigh na báid níos sofaisticiúla, tá an trealamh níos fearr ach jab contúirteach atá ann go fóill: bíonn ar na báid dul amach níos faide agus níos faide fá choinne gabhálacha níos lú.

Ach ní gá barraíocht béime a chur ar an ghné seo den fharraige - tá gach foirm taistil baolach. I bhfad níos fearr smaoineamh ar an pléisiúr a thugann sí:

‘Aoibhinn taobh le mórmhuir, / A’ machnamh ar a ciall; / Fuaim is réim is luaimneacht, / Claochlú ann de shíor.’ (Úna Ní Fhaircheallaigh)

Millions of tourists go on cruise ships every year. This does not surprise me. You can visit four or five different countries in a week. You have every facility on board: restaurants with top quality food, cafes, bars, a theatre, a library, a cinema, a gym, shops, a swimming pool, and many other facilities. The passengers are spoiled. But the tragedy off the Italian coast last weekend shows that a high standard of safety is always necessary. The sea is friendly, but it can also be merciless. You can never be sure of it. This was a dreadful tragedy for the families of those who were killed or injured. But it was also a tragedy for the thousand workers who lost their jobs and everything they possessed. Many of them are from the Third World. Their families depend on their wages and it will be difficult for them to get other work now: fewer people are likely to want to go on a cruise for some time.

Five people died when a trawler hit the rocks at Unionhall, in County Cork on Sunday- another tragedy, people left grieving, although the headlines were not so big.

Donegal people know that the sea can sometimes be an enemy. TG4 showed a marvellous documentary about the Aranmore Disaster recently: 19 were killed a few yards from shore when they were returning from the potato harvest in Scotland 75 years ago.

Inis Eoghain fishermen have suffered greatly over the years. Facilities in the ports have improved, boats have become more sophisticated, equipment is better, but the job is still dangerous: the boats have to go out further and further for less and less.

But we should not put too much emphasis on this aspect of the sea- every form of transport has its dangers. Far better think of the pleasure the sea gives:

‘It is pleasant to be beside the ocean, / Thinking about what it all means; /Its sound, its vastness, its restlessness, / Its state of never ending change.’ (Úna Ní Fhaircheallaigh)