Cork city grew up around its river, rather than its harbour. For centuries, the city docks were the focus for trade, for industry and for jobs. Gradually, however, newer industries began to locate further down in the lower harbour, taking advantage of its space, its convenience for larger ships, and its greater tidal flows.
Far from leaving the city with a problem, however, this represents a massive opportunity, and has given birth to the Cork Docklands development strategy. Now this area is about to be redeveloped - bringing new life into the city.
Tonight's programme visits Crosshaven rowing club, just one of the harbour's vibrant centres for water activity. Focusing on how leisure and industry harmonise within the harbour environment, tonight's programme also looks at the potential impact of harbour industries on wildlife. Cork Harbour continues to be rich in birdlife, with about 30,000 present each winter.
The series ends with a look at the harbour's future, and offers a few suggestions for how harbour life might be improved. More ferries might be a good place to start - there was a time when many ferries brought lower harbour residents to work in the city, and growing traffic problems on roads suggest this could work again. The harbour also needs new marinas, as sailing becomes more popular, and the proposed marina at Cobh is vital for absorbing some of this pressure for berths.
The challenge for the future of Cork Harbour is to balance industry and leisure. Too much of one, and there won't be room for the other. This is a unique waterway - from the Titanic to Viagra, it has met all the demands that have been made of it. The job of this generation is to ensure that its colour and its character are preserved into the future.