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Oil find could be just the tonic

It's been a long time coming, but yesterday's announcement from Providence Resources that oil had flowed in commercial quantities from its Barryroe well off the coast of Cork couldn't have been better timed.

At a time when the national mood is at a low ebb the possibility that we have at long last struck oil could be just the tonic we need to lift our gloom.

Drilling for hydrocarbons has been taking place off the Irish coast for more than 40 years.

Unfortunately, while natural gas has been discovered in commercial quantities we haven't been so lucky in our search for oil. Even when oil has been encountered the quantities have been insufficient to justify extraction.

Up to now anyway. While it is still too early to judge if Barryroe contains enough recoverable oil to justify bringing it ashore, the omens are good, very good.

Of course one should remember the old adage about there being many a slip twixt cup and lip. Much more work needs to be done before the first Irish oil flows.

However, a commercial oil discovery in Irish waters would provide a much-needed economic and psychological boost at a time when we most need it. After almost two generations of disappointment we can at least begin to hope.