Flotsam and Jetsam

I go to Woodstown Beach here in Co. Waterford when I get a hankering for sea shells and, if I’m honest, a place that will comfort me in ways that nowhere else can.

Woodstown is different to my other beaches. It doesn’t have the wildness of Tramore or Garrarus, about which I write so often, because it lies just within the Waterford Estuary. Sometimes, we need a calm oasis and that’s exactly what Woodstown represents for me and maybe thousands more. This isn’t quite the conversation one tends to have with passing strangers!

Woodstown didn’t disappoint when I ventured there a few days ago but it threw up an image that simply won’t leave me. There among the shells was a piece of a willow-patterned plate, or maybe a cup, that I associate so much with growing up and with the intensely beautiful poetry of the late Sean Dunne who is arguably Co. Waterford’s most renowned poet.

Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford
Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford

Here is the poem that immediately sprang to mind:

Tea Room
Let it be solitary
as a cottage on a beach.
Let no sword sully
this abode of vacancy.
With linen napkin
and bamboo dipper,
let it be a shrine
for the ordinary,
for talk of tea
and the taking of tea,
best made with water
from a mountain spring. 
(from: Sean Dunne: Collected , 2005, edited by Fallon, P., Gallery Press)

It is so good to know that Sean Dunne’s genius will be lovingly remembered at the forthcoming Waterford Writers’ Weekend which runs from March 20-23rd.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

15 thoughts on “Flotsam and Jetsam”

  1. Hi Jean, you may be interested to know I worked with Sean Dunne. In fact, I was his boss in the editorial department of the Cork Examiner and got to know him well. A lovely guy who was not just a great poet but also an excellent writer. I last met him the day before I left for Canada on a family trip. I was absolutely shocked when I returned a few weeks later to learn Sean had died.

  2. Tom, I’m delighted to hear from you and it’s so good to connect with someone who knew Sean Dunne, the man, the writer and the poet so well.
    I have long admired his poetry and the more I read it, the more his humanity and way with words intrigues me.
    I’m sorry that his death had such personal implications for you but it is wonderful to know that you truly treasure his memory.

    1. Yes, David, I would love to know the story behind the shard. I was tempted to bring it home but somehow it seemed perfectly settled and at home where it was.

      1. I admire your fortitude. Not sure I would’ve acted accordingly. I think I would have had to liberate it. To feel its edges, its pattern, its surface, so I could selfishly use it for my writing.

        1. You could have no concept how many treasures I have already brought home and kept! Now, it’s a case of making sure to have the camera with me every time I set foot on a beach and that’s pretty much all the time!

  3. Now that winter seems to be retreating I must find time to get out and walk one or two of our local beaches. I’m fascinated by the bits and pieces that are washed up, each with its own untold story. A cue for future blog posts I think.

  4. You can’t help but Wonder what journey that piece has been on!
    You are soooo Lucky that you have so many beaches within your reach!

    1. Hi Dale, yes I truly appreciate all the wonderful beaches along the coast here in Co. Waterford. I never, ever take them for granted, possibly because we lived inland at various stages along the way.
      That shard could well be the opening of a film, couldn’t it?

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