YOU may recall that some time ago I had a piece in this column referring to fresh, clean water as ‘blue gold’ and a prediction from a top financier that such water would soon be the most valuable commodity on earth.

Bearing that in mind, it was good to learn that, as well as oil and gas, we in Ireland have large deposits of fresh water under the sea in our territorial waters.

Scientists have discovered that caves under North Clare and South Galway extend some 30 miles out under Galway Bay as far as the Aran Islands.

Researchers from University College Galway found that rain falling in the Burren is filtered through the limestone and then appears to travel in underground rivers to the coast and out under Galway Bay before emerging in springs on Inishmaan and in the bay itself.

Geologists say they have found large networks of underground rivers hidden under the seabed and further research could enable them to identify targets in the sub-surface that could be drilled out for water.

They believe the same is true of other parts of Ireland and point out that there is no reason why underground cave systems containing rivers of fresh water should stop at the coastline.