The Memory Makers

Tramore Beach is a place where young children have been introduced to the sea for many, many years now. I was once one of those kids and I always love to see the tradition being carried on, as it was by this man with his youngster at sunset last night.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford

While moments like this make me a little nostalgic, they also remind me that my memories are not necessarily rose-tinted. I remember the sea being golden and Dad bringing me right to the edge of the waves and then lifting me high into the air as the water came in. I saw the exact same thing happening before my very eyes last night and all the while the Metal Man was watching out in the distance, just as he was back when I was tiny.

Oddly enough, it was only while I was watching this pair playing with the waves that I realised that the memories were not just being created for the child but for the man as well. I wondered if he had once been the child that I was and was remembering his father as well as living in the moment with his own child.

All the while, lines of poetry kept wandering in and out of my head.

How can we know the dancer from the dance?  (W.B. Yeats)


We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams. 

(Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy)

Yes, memory is crucial to  connectedness in the world and our sense of having a place within that:

Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilisation, no society, no future. (Elie Wiesel)


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.

14 thoughts on “The Memory Makers”

  1. “When I get to old to dream…I’ll have you to remember”….and you’ll remind me of the great times that we had…sparking a memory of long ago…This is what that poem reminded me of …I love the picture of your Dad and you…

  2. I think you just said something profoundly important here, Jean. “…memory is crucial to connectedness in the world and our sense of having a place within that”–and that perchance is one of the problems with lack of connectedness today, and people feeling a sense of “having a place within that.” We know that we are socialized by those who come before us, and that then, we carry on that process. For so many, that seems to be lacking now, and the resulting rampant narcissism seems to bear that out. If I have no sense of connection or place with others, then I can say anything I want, do anything I want, because I do not care if I hurt others. I am ever so grateful for my parents, and grandparents and those other ancestors that helped me find a sense of place and connection.

    1. Thanks Suz. Yes, I have a bit of an issue with the way in which the current emphasis on ‘living in the moment’ seems to be all about ‘me, me, me.’ Also, there seems to be a big downer on looking at the past as it is perceived as being nostalgic and a hindrance to progress. I simply can’t operate on that basis as the past is, as you highlight, fundamental in rooting us. We learn from it and each moment that goes by even in our everyday experience is part of a past that ties us in to the world in one way or another. I guess much of this post is a reflection of my interest in the fascinating overlap between individual life histories and social history as a whole.

  3. Beautiful. I so enjoy watching my adult children create memories with their children by doing some of the same things we did with them. And I know they remember….because I’ve heard them tell their children about how they did the same when they were little. Memories are precious keepsakes that often get handed down from generation to generation.

    1. Interesting isn’t it! I was just watching Country File on TV and there was a woman back at the Isle of Aran in Scotland on a beach of her childhood that was her very special place.

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