We have been restricted to 5km here in Ireland since early January but April 12 is due to bring a re-opening of travel within one’s county. So, I am gearing up to go and visit my favourite haunts in this beautiful county of mine.
Back in 2019, I undertook a project of taking a photo of A Door a Day in Co. Waterford and it’s something I treasure now as I feel I can travel around the highways and byways of the county by just looking at the photos that brought me to places I had never even known existed. The whole family was involved and there were all sorts of day trips with doors on our minds.
Obviously, there were well known historic doors but some like this one in a tiny left behind village called Millstreet fuelled my imagination.
I kept visualising all the people who must have frequented O’Brien’s and those who filled their cars, motorbikes and other vehicles at the old petrol pumps.
No worries back then about hand sanitizers and gloves; probably plenty of chat about farming, sport and local goings on.
If we ever get out of this virus, I want to do more in terms of capturing this lovely county of mine that has so much to offer the curious mind.
Today was the All-Ireland Hurling Final and Waterford were there in a closed stadium trying to win their first All-Ireland since 1959.
We lost to a very strong Limerick team and it was hard going listening to the match on the radio.
I know it’s only a game but it is about a good bit more than that. We have taken all the players to our hearts and know how much they have trained and run themselves ragged on our behalf. What a lonely journey home for them this dark December night. The Championship normally ends in September.
We have had three finals now in recent years but getting our hands on the cup is extraordinarily difficult.
The difference to the county between winning and losing is immense. No, there wouldn’t have been public celebrations and homecomings but we Waterfordians would have walked with our heads held high and has a real sense of pride.
It’s a few hours since the game ended and we are trying to console ourselves that the lads gave their all, left every ounce of energy on the field, will learn from the experience, will live to fight another day.
All these things are true but a little bit of my heart broke today as I suspect that some of my heroes may well retire now without ever getting to savour the victory they worked so tirelessly for.
I just hope the players know that we recognize how hard they tried and how beloved they are and always will be to the vast army of Waterford supporters.
Our colours are blue and white and these are colours that are part of our natural coastal county.
It’s by no means the end of the world but it is one of those communally sad days which I hope will make us even more united, determined and thankful.
You deserve a thank you letter because you have been incredibly kind to me throughout my life.
I know I left you for longish periods and had love affairs with Co. Louth and Dublin but you never left my heart.
Those first years of my life that I spent here were magical and you introduced me to the sea and the mountains as well as places full of history and antiquity. You also taught me the meaning of belonging and having a sense of identity as a person from this most stunning county that has remained relatively unspoiled.
Your allure meant that we never lost touch and came back on holidays every year to make sure our connection was never lost.
I fought hard to persuade hubby to move here when we got married because I knew that you brought me a greater level of health and happiness than anywhere else in the world.
Some people long to travel the world but my joy is in travelling your country roads, especially those high above the sea for all the miles and miles of coastline you offer. And how lovely it is to climb into the mountains and take in the vistas all around.
Your jewels, for me, include Mount Congreve Gardens, Lord Waterford’s, Curraghmore, and the picturesque villages and towns like Dunmore East, Annestown, Lismore, Stradbally and, of course, my beloved Tramore.
You are a county that has lots of pride but humility. You love your sport and sportspeople as well as musicians and creative people from all genres.
I’m glad you haven’t changed too much since I was a child as I love the continuity you bring.
Thanks again for being such a support all these years and I am really looking forward to being able to travel your length and breadth from Wednesday on after the 5km Covid restriction.
We’re in Week 4 of our Lockdown 2 here in Ireland and unfortunately there’s been a bit of a wobble in the downward trend in cases in the last few days. Hopefully, that will shock people into taking greater care.
This Lockdown got me thinking about things I truly miss and clearly took a weeny bit for granted before the Pandemic struck at all. I think it’s arguably good to have this wake up call and I hope I never get into that take for granted mode again.
Here’s my top 5:
#1. Walking in places I love that are beyond the 5km limit that are full of natural beauty. I am beyond fortunate that one of my favorites, Tramore Beach, is within my 5km.
#2. Going to live concerts
#3. Going with son to soccer matches in support of Waterford FC
#4. Browsing in bookshops and libraries
#5. Driving around Co. Waterford listening to radio commentary of Waterford Senior Hurling Championship games when hubby and son have strong enough hearts to be at them live and stopping off at a garden centre to calm my nerves at half or full time.
There’s a support centre in Waterford City for people impacted by cancer. It’s called The Solas Centre, and they have an annual fundraising Run/Walk for Life every October.
My first foray in the event was in 2009 a few months after my mother died and I walked the 13 miles slowly but got there in the end and felt extremely emotional at the finish, as my father was at home bursting to know how it had gone. He had always been my walking mentor as a kid.
Anyway, this year it is virtual and spread over the weekend. I am bet from walking but picked some of my very favourite places to take on the challenge.
Cancer came knocking on our family door a few years back and really put the frighteners on us. I must have thought of phoning or dropping in to The Solas Centre a thousand times but never did. Just knowing I could meant the world.
Knowing there is a listening ear, empathy, advice, support is so, so important and knowing that it is just a heartbeat away is wonderful, no matter how bad a situation is.
The virtual event is great because I am meeting fellow participants decked out in our orange T-shirts in the most unlikely places.
Today, it’s about waiting for the tide to ebb so I can do my last lap for one of Waterford’s greatest treasures.
Railway stations stretch my mind. They are places of comings, goings, waitings, quietude, hecticity and evokers of emotion.
I was waiting at Waterford Station last night to collect son, Harry, off the Dublin train and, as always, my eyes were drawn to the timber clad signal box which dates back to 1906.
It’s almost impossible to think of all the trains, passengers, railway staff, people waiting to collect passengers or wave them goodbye who have been watched over by this distinctive building up on its metal support frame.
Similarly, how many people, like me, have a whole mixum-gatherum of memories that seem to live in this signal box which opens up each time they have occasion to be in around the station or simply passing by for fleeting moments.
Little did I ever imagine when I was being collected by my father at the station as a teenager, that one day I would be collecting a ‘child’ of mine!
It was only when I was driving into the station last night, after shrugging off hubby’s offer to go instead, that I remembered how my mother used to stress how much Father loved collecting us because he got to hear all the news on the drive back out to Tramore.
I nearly turned back to ‘let’ hubby go but it was just a nearly!
It was one of those evenings that oozed August and the glory of Co. Waterford. I was driving out along the road towards Annestown when the sun glinting on baled hay made me do an about turn and step into the open field.
Gazing seaward across the textured gold, I thought I heard a horse’s whinny and there in the field behind was a chestnut mare with her young foal staying very close to her side:
It’s a busy enough road ~ this road along the Copper Coast. On August evenings there’s always lots of cars with surf boards and kayaks tied to the roof racks and tractors and trailers making the most of every last sunbeam:
Just across the road from the hay field is the shell of an old stone cottage. It has seen many an August evening and stands solidly adding to the sense of place and Co. Waterford history.