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Dear Ireland: I’m coming back for what’s mine. Signed, Water

November 30, 2009

There are so many ways to disown financial responsibility, but the government, councils, the planners – they can’t disown the effects of these floods. No, they don’t control the weather, but any idiot who has seen a contour map – or a 19th-century Ordnance Survey map, where places that flood are generally marked floods – would notice the word floods and probably know what that means. Any idiot could have seen it. Any idiot, true. But watching these people on The Frontline, it’s clear that it’s gobshites who are blind to it.

Dublin itself is basically one big flood plain. I remember finding these maps at the National Maritime Museum and, being a Ringsender by association, I was obviously curious, but then found it very difficult to get my bearings on these old maps and charts. This is mainly because where I currently live was once part of the sea. And one day the sea will come back. So the more we build on flood plains, the closer we bring that day. In fact, Ringsend was pretty much so constantly a muckscape that there was such a thing as a Ringsend Car, that helped the intrepid and sufficiently arse-padded to cross the slime that was the area around the Dodder. We’ve culverted the Steyn (which you can still see a bit of at George’s Quay) and the Poddle (that’s the one in Dublin Castle, yah?).

This is possibly the earliest chart of Dublin Bay (note the citadel that seems like it should practically abut Merrion Square), and this is another interesting chart of the city.

Areas of Cork City Centre have buildings whose steps once led down into the water, later replaced with dry land that has again been replaced with river. And not just because it’s a marsh to begin with (a lot of major cities are low-lying, especially if they began as port cities, and thus have a lot of reclaimed areas), but because when you build and expand on a marsh you can’t pretend it’s a mountain. And if a field is called “the bog”, leave it alone. If it’s called “Muckpuddle”, it’s not going to make a good housing estate. And if you can’t get your hands on an Ordnance Survey map (you can find them in local studies libraries), if an estate is called “Waterways” or “Wetspot”, don’t buy there. When you build on flood plains, it’s not only flood plains that flood. Duh.

Spending money on drainage and flood protection, as was pointed out by a member of the audience, was not previously dependent on available government resources. Some shit you just do. Because sure, we don’t have the money to bail out the banks, wouldn’t you rather bail out your neighbour’s house? I know I would. The Shannon was dredged in the 1930s, there were huge agricultural drainage projects in the 19th century, but apparently this is all a new issue that we simply can’t afford. Why does everything in this country have to get to crisis point before anyone listens?

At what point did this shit about building on flood plains become ‘forgotten knowledge’?

Anyway, this discussion is bullshit. The members of the audience know a hell of a lot more than the panel and actually seem to care about what’s happening, and know what needs to be done. I just figured this was easier than the 100 tweets this would take.

Edit: in order to get your bearings a little bit on that 1673 map, Lazy Hill is what is now Townsend Street. But again, it’s actually really difficult to figure out what you’re looking at because you can’t use landmarks, since most of them are now gone, and the physical geography has been changed so much.

(Also, I cannot be held accountable for the loss of entire working weeks looking at those beautiful hi-res maps that the NMM put online well before anyone else did it.)

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