Galway needs to build an ark

Noahs Ark

Our floods are now so common some people think that Galway needs to build an ark!

Some blame global warming which is a factor. But why are our city’s flood defences still so poor?

There are two ways our flood defences are failing. The sea and streams overflowing are one and street drainage backing up is the other.

The businesses and people of Galway responded to the recent challenge. Volunteers helped council workers and the army. Businesses donated sandbags without complaint after paying taxes and rates which should cover the council having an Emergency Response Plan.

Social Democrats election candidate Niall Ó Tuathail

Social Democrats election candidate in Galway, Niall Ó Tuathail

After a night of distributing and stacking donated sandbags to Galway residents and businesses, Social Democrats election candidate in Galway, Niall Ó Tuathail, says the council were ‘simply not good enough’ and ‘need to learn from this for future floods’.

Mr Ó Tuathail went on to say:

‘An amazing group of volunteers and council workers scrambled to get enough sandbags to protect businesses and homes. For example, EMC in Westlink Commercial Park in Oranmore donated 700 bags of ‘sandless sandbags’ worth almost €8,000. They were very easy to get around to homes and businesses at short notice while the Council and Army were preparing traditional sandbags. Kazanoo hairdressers on Fairhill Road also filled the sandless bags with water for distribution around Dominick Street. The council operatives and the army were up through the night clearing drains and filling sandbags – they don’t get enough credit for the work they have to do on nights like this.’

Kevin and Michael from EMC in Westlink Industrial Estate, Oranmore. When Galway needed them, they donated over €8k of sandless flood bags (

Kevin and Michael from EMC in Westlink Industrial Estate, Oranmore. When Galway needed them, they donated over €8k of sandless flood bags (

Ó Tuathail believes that the council needs to learn from this event for the future. He added:

‘Galway City and County Councils were simply not good enough yesterday. I know everyone worked hard after the first flood, but we must be better prepared as a city for floods that are becoming all the more common with climate change. There was an orange weather warning plus a record high tide. Either of those should have rung alarm bells in the councils and both together should have kicked off a process that would have prevented damage from the first floods.’

Council management must work in tandem for the future. Empty talk of merging councils for better efficiency won’t cut the mustard.

We need a plan to:

  1. Build a sea wall to defend the city against flooding.
  2. Build flood defences where streams burst their banks.
  3. Empty the canals in advance of flooding and divert street surface drainage into them
  4. Stockpile water-filled sandbags for quicker deployment in future floods.

A lot of these ideas may seem expensive or extreme, but not doing it is causing major costs to business and more importantly, risking loss of life.

Knowing Galway City Council, I wouldn’t be surprised if they built an ark instead!

About the Author

Thomas Carty
Thomas Carty is a Renmore resident, having moved to Galway for work a couple of years ago. Both his parents were originally from Ballinalee in Co. Longford but he grew up in Banagher and maintains his Offaly connections with membership of the poetry group Tullamore Rhymers Club. An amateur genealogist and historian, he writes on a range of topics that grab his interest. He works at security to pay the bills, and travels widely around Europe to keep sane!

2 Comments on "Galway needs to build an ark"

  1. Derrick Hambleton | 7th January 2018 at 1:16 pm |

    Hi Thomas. Very impressed with your work on this blog. In commenting on the recent weather induced flooding I need to tell where I am coming from!
    As you probably know, I am involved as local chair of An Taisces Galway Association membership and like you, a Blow In to Galway. I arrived in 79, almost 40 years ago and with my Limerick born wife Mary – we lived for our first twelve years in Galway to 91 in a house at New Docks. The house had belonged to Mary Gt Grand Uncle Capt Senen Meskell who was a sea captain who became Galways first Port Pilot, guiding many of the worlds great liners to safe anchorage in Galway Bay in the years 1913 to the mid fifties when he retired.
    So we lived in a house at Galways Docks where we experienced many close calls with flooding. Though we never actually had any water come into the house it came up to the door on a few occasions. Today, it is likely because of the impacts of Global Warming that situation will change for everyone who lives or has business in or around the area!
    As you know, the OPW have been engaged on drawing up plans for countrywide coastal protection from flooding, under CFRAM – Catchment Flood Risk Assessment Management planning, and since 2014 have been engaged in drawing up plans to help prevent or to deal with flooding which they see as an “inevitable” part of life in Ireland. Having engaged consultants to draw up plans these, are now almost ready for further public consultation or so we are being told. This is as I understand the current situation. Galway City Council Planning SPC members, of which I am one of two representing Galway City Community Network were given some basic information in September 2015 and Public Consultation then took place in that month. Since that time there has been no further debate at SPC level and we all await seeing what plans the Local Authority come up with to deal with flooding in Galway City. Obviously we cannot wait for International Governments to take action on what are the causes of Climate Change and so we have to do some things locally to avoid these situations happening again. How much our local authority Galway City Council is able to do for themselves is a question that must be asked, and how much funding will be required from National Government to deal with flood prevention schemes for Galway is an issue that must be tackled. It is being said that 9.5m euro will be required to be spent in the city alone and some are questioning whether govt will be prepared to spend that amount, or whether parts of Galway should be abandoned to the will of the Insurance Industry and be left unprotected. That is an apopolyptic (spell) situation which must now be faced. Anyway, we face a lot of further debate in Galway. Whether we see some action soon is another days issue?

    Keep up the good work. Not a great user of social media on FB, but do what I can. Ring or email me if you think we might talk about issues!

  2. Thanks for the feedback Derrick, as the situation develops, or should I do a follow up on it, I will get back to you!

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