Walking along the seashore is my place of endless inspiration. I’ve realised over the last while that it’s all to do with the ever-changing nature of the sea and the many lines that it offers. These are lines that are full in their own right but which invite thoughts, reflections, words, sentences, paragraphs, pages …..
So many colourful stones with lines ~ not even requiring that one’s writing is straight ~ a perfect art gallery or pages begging to be filled.
And what about the horizon? That line that stretches the eyes and mind and makes one think of the breadth, width and depth of life.
And in-between are the waves ~ sometimes only the tiniest ripples, other times massive breakers carrying one along in great surges.
There are times, too, when the huge canvas of the lined sand on a beach like my precious Tramore provides the ultimate inspiration.
The certainty that that the sea with its multiplicity of lines is ever-changing brings a newness with every tide that encourages, hand-holds and sets the pen of the heart and mind free like a kite sailing in the wind.
This photograph which was taken by my late father a few decades ago has been puzzling me for ages. I suspected that it was a part of the Copper Coast here in Co. Waterford but was cocky enough to think that I knew the whole coastline backways.
Yesterday evening, I went out to Annestown Beach which is a lovely place to capture the sunset and while I was waiting I climbed up the cliff to see if I could get an even better vantage point than ever.
The vista that opened out before me seemed very familiar. Yes, I had been up there before but there was an even greater familiarity than that.
The rocks in the distance tell the whole story and I got a real sense of having found part of what I’ve long been looking for when I compared the two photos today.
The actual sunset image that I liked best out of the many I took was this one ~ just after the sun had gone for yet another day. It’s the peacefulness of the after-glow and the last lingering look.
As I write this post tonight, I can’t but think of all the other photographs of Father’s which are hauntingly familiar but haven’t revealed their identities yet. It’s a lovely feeling to know that there are still lots of unsolved mysteries and places that he and I will share in time to come.
November 15 was always a very significant day in my parent’s lives as they got married on November 15, 1948.
They both lived to see their 60th anniversary in 2008 and this is now the fourth since Father died. While there were never any major parties or the like, they always marked their Anniversary by exchanging presents and by going on some sort of outing ~ maybe lunch out or a picnic by the sea if the weather was fine.
I’ve struggled with November 15th since Mother died in 2oo9. It’s a date that’s etched in my life calendar because of the ‘ceremony’ that always surrounded it and the recalling of memories of that day that they tied the knot.
I wrote about possible plans for the day last year but in the end I didn’t do much more than write ~ I simply wasn’t able. I just wasn’t emotionally ready.
This year I felt different and I spent some lovely time today in celebrating a marriage that was fundamentally important to giving me life itself.
I was rather surprised to find that November 15th in 1948 fell on a Monday. I don’t know if Monday weddings were more common back then than they are now. I don’t know of any other couple who got married on a Monday!
So, I made my way to Annestown Beach this morning; had the obligatory cup of coffee, a paddle and carved a little memorial in the sand. It all felt so right and the gorse was in full bloom out around there ~ when the gorse is out of bloom, kissing’s out of season.
Today seemed just the right day to buy my snowdrop and hyacinth bulbs ~ always such symbols of hope and inextricably linked to this time of year, especially for Mother.
On the way home, I decided to call into The Majestic Hotel here in Tramore. That’s where Mother and Father had their wedding reception. The hotel has been rebuilt since those days as you can see from the following photos:
Even though the buildings are different, I half expected to see the wedding party arrive into the hotel as I was sitting there sipping my latte.
Tramore Beach that was so special to both Mother and Father and where we shared so, so many precious hours, days and moments was my last stop.
There is was, just as it was back in November 1948, being watched over by the Metal Man and whispering its everlasting words of love.
In conclusion, I would say from my experience, that the grieving process is very different for each individual and for each death in an individual’s life. Perhaps a good rule of thumb is only to do things when they feel right ~ not when you or someone else thinks the time should be right.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
(William Shakespeare ~ Hamlet Act 1)
There are times when you feel ‘out of time’ and I had one of those lovely experiences this evening in the after glow of sunset at Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford. These are the special moments when nature invites you in to her gaze and lingers for a tiny bit longer than she should.
So, last night I set out for the Graduation for the Postgraduate Certificate in Heritage Tourism: A Sense of Place about which I wrote with wild anticipation yesterday.
As I drove out along the road from Tramore towards the Copper Coast European Geopark where the ceremony was being held, it was as if every conceivable aspect of ‘sense of place’ came alive. Even though I was in my finery, I just had to capture the magnificence of the Copper Coastline as it opened up in front of me.
This is a part of Ireland that means the world to me, and I say that with absolute pride and passion. It felt more than fitting that the tide was high as this place holds so many memories for both me, at personal and professional levels, and for those, both local and tourist, whose lives are inextricably interwoven with it across time.
I think, here too, of the thousands of miners who worked the copper mines near Bonmahon in the 1800s and whose ancestors are scattered around the world, with many concentrated in Butte, Montana.
I hope you enjoy these photographs which are very different to what I had anticipated as those depicting the great Graduation evening that we all enjoyed so much and which will live long in our memories as a group of fellow students or travellers.
There’s something extra-special about Ireland early on St. Patrick’s morning. Today was no exception and here’s a glimpse of what greeted me when I set out to have my annual glimpse at Irishness here in Tramore , Co. Waterford and round about.
It’s not one of those notable days, like Valentine’s Day, but it sure felt special when I was out and about early this morning. I began to wonder if any day is ‘ordinary’ and remembered conversations with my late mother about how it is the little things that one tends to remember most.
I had an hour or two to spare so just headed off, with my beloved King Charles, and decided to soak up Spring. Here’s a few photos that will remind me forever of the intense beauty that was everywhere on this ‘ordinary’ February Friday!
So much has been written about ‘the Irish Mammy’ and I became more and more aware of this in recent months as I sorted through family photographs which included our late parents to share with my brother and sister.
Nothing that I read about ‘Irish mammies’ or indeed ‘mammies ‘ of any nationality resonated with me until I came across a poem this morning by Guyanese poet, Grace Nichols. It is very much about the nurturing, warm spirit of a mother and it captures so much of how I feel about my Irish mother. It came as no great surprise to find that Grace Nichols spent her early childhood at the coast, just as I did, and hence the many references to the sea.
While Grace Nichols’ mother said, ‘Go to your wild futures,’ lifelong sayings and quotes of mine included ‘ You’re only young once’ and ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.’
Praise Song for My Mother
You were water to me deep and bold and fathoming
You were moon’s eye to me pull and grained and mantling
You were sunrise to me rise and warm and streaming
You were the fishes gill to me the flame tree’s spread to me the crab’s leg/the fried plantain smell replenishing, replenishing
I an a gatherer of stones from beaches and coves ~ just one stone that presents itself. This morning I was out at Annestown Beach here in Co. Waterford and the stone that begged to be brought home was this one:
So many thoughts spring to mind when I look at it: lines waiting to be filled; the road of life and Uncle Harry.
Uncle Harry was a great uncle in every sense of the word. Each Christmas he sent us kids gift tokens for a guinea for Switzers in Grafton Street, Dublin. A guinea was serious money back in the 1960s and every year I spent that guinea on about a hundred and one things in my imaginings. Those gift tokens gave days, and sometimes weeks, of anticipation of the trip to Dublin and being let loose in Switzers’ colourful, warm toy department.
There were six great nieces and nephews who received this gift and all Uncle Harry wanted in return was a ‘thank you letter.’ I was the youngest of the gang and, in spite of endless hours practising on those red covered lined copybooks that used to exist especially for learner writers, I had terrible trouble writing in a straight line. The lines in the ‘Dear Uncle Harry letters’ would get more and more slanted the more news I brought him and I always ended up writing about ten drafts before my letter was finally passed by my mother as being fit to send.
I never really thanked Uncle Harry properly for the gift tokens as I just couldn’t express what joy they brought. He died many years before my son was born and I think he would be very pleased to know that I just had to call him Harry.
I’d love to hear what thoughts or memories the stone evokes in you!