The Sparing

It would be hard for most people to understand but I’ve been nearly afraid to take the main road from Tramore to Waterford in recent months because a whole army of diggers, dumpers and bright yellow demolition machines have been at work very close to a ramshackled old cottage that’s precious to me, even if no one else loves it. It’s one of six abandoned cottages on that road and the ‘works’ were happening just beside one and were heading towards the next one which is a few hundred yards away. (Here’s a post I wrote about the six cottages back in 2014).

A lot of the time, I’ve been taking the back road so that I wouldn’t have to see a ‘gap’ where the cottage has lived for a lot longer than I have. And, I haven’t had the courage to ask any of the workmen what the plans are for the cottage.

Anyway, it looks like I can breathe again as the most endangered cottage is still standing in the clearing and looks like it is secure. I thought that St. Stephen’s Day would be a nice quiet day to take some photos. It was quieter than usual but there was still lots of traffic. One car even pulled over and the man driving it asked if my car was broken down. (That’s one of the things I love about Ireland ~ there are plenty of Good Samaritans around the place.)

Anyway, here’s a few shots of  ‘my cottage’ as it looked this morning:

Approaching from Tramore
New Gate!
Front Door and Window

It’s when I get up very close to the cottage that I feel its history. Today I was thinking about all the Christmases this little house must have seen and I wondered about the openings and closings of the front door ~ family and visitors coming and going. Were there floral curtains on the window or net ones or shutters or blinds …. who looked out the window and what did they see?

I’ve been hoping that the little cottage will be spared but today when I was right up beside it, I suddenly remembered that ‘spéir’ in the Irish language (and pronounced the same as ‘spare’) means ‘sky.’ To be ‘amuigh faoin spéir’ means to be ‘out under the sky’ and this is exactly what my cottage is now. The thing is that  I’ve always thought of ‘amuigh faoin spéir’ in a really positive way ~ like being released from captivity.

And just in case you were wondering, here’s how the cottage just up the road was looking:

Cottage on Tramore-Waterford Road


Amuigh faoin spéir


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.

25 thoughts on “The Sparing”

  1. i love this post and can identify with every word. i love these little places from the past and also wonder about their stories and the life that was once within their walls. there is something so wonderful about these little places and i can understand you worrying about their fate. the irish phrase is wonderful too –

  2. It’s sad to see old relics fall before our eyes …Once a home to people now a refuge to animals and birds seeking some sort of shelter from the elements. A place filled with memories and stories that were told embracing families through good and bad times. She still stands though her walls and windows give away to time..where only one can remember what was…

  3. My sister paints. One of the first paintings she ever gave me was of an Irish cottage just like the 2nd one in your post. She too a picture of it on a trip there, and came home, painted the picture and gave it to me. It is now hanging in my Florida home. Your country is so beautiful. 😊

  4. I wonder is there any history to that cottage? I t would be great if your local heritage people had a pic of it when it was in use, or even with the family posing outside. A long shot I guess. (John of the Roaringwater blog has been checking out photos of 40’s properties along the canals and finding what remains of them today.)

    1. I suspect that it is closely tied up with the Tramore-Waterford railway line which used to pass just behind it. I’ll do a bit of scouting around local history sites and see what I can find.

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