It all started as a walk on the beach at sunset with Puppy Stan. The horizon was pencilled out and had me looking foward:
Puppy Stan was in pensive mood and was basking in the here and now:
We couldn’t resist driving out along the Copper Coast just to see how it looked in the gloaming.
Driving along, I was very conscious of the word ‘year’ and how the Irish language seems to capture ‘last year’ and ‘next year’ so much more deeply than English does.
‘Last year’ is ‘An bhliain seo caite,’ literally,’the/this year spent/used up,’ and ‘Next year’ is ‘An bhliain seo chugainn,’ literally, ‘the/this year toward us.’ I love the way the Irish is so much more dynamic and, indeed questioning, than English.
Pondering on all this, I nearly missed the fact that the door of the Catholic Churchv in Bonmahon was ajar. I couldn’t resist stopping and seizing the opportunity to go in and see how it was looking.
The building that is now the church has served a host of different functions as a little notice on the gate post outlines.
It was originally built as a Temperance Hall as drunkenness had been a major problem for the mining company that was operating in the 1800s. A locally based temperance movement led by priests managed to wipe out drinking in 1839 through exhortation by the usecof “Temperance Police.” From 1840, the miners could come tobthe Hall, join the Temperance Band and drink non-intoxicating beverages.
The building was used as a famine-relief centre in 1846-7 and then became a fever hospital before being converted into a church.
The church was empty when I was there and I could feel its past enveloping me. My instinct was to light candles in memory of those who had spent time there in so many different capacities:
Another part of me longed to ring the big bell outside the church to summon all the members of the local community for a celebration of the very last Friday of 2016.
But I didn’t have the guts. Maybe when I am older and grayer and decked out in purple, I will!
For now, it’s time for bed as The Wishing Stones Ritual for New Year’s Eve is almost upon us.
There’s talk of a storm looming on the horizon so I thought I would dive into today’s calm and seize my chance to have a lovely dip at one of our beaches or coves along the Copper Coast.
So everything was abandoned and I took off into the blue. Just crossing the little bridge at Annestown, I was enraptured by the deep hue of the River Anne and the gleam of the white-washed cottage that I love so much:
There was a softness about the day that had me melting into the very heart of my Co. Waterford.
One of the key parts of that Waterford is the sweep of the road in the village of Bonmahon and the way the shadows fall on the wall near the now closed Kennedy’s shop:
Ballydwane Cove was where I thought I would swim with its tall cliffs and cosy shelter. But, a local man walking his dog greeted me with: ‘It’s rough; it’s rough today.’ The tide was high and the waves were big and fluffy. The thing about Ballydwane, though, is that the high cliffs always make the waves look a lot smaller than they are so if it hadn’t been for the mind-reading ‘old salt,’ I would have thrown caution to the gentle breeze and run in:
It was time for a snack as lunch time had come and gone so I made for stunning Stradbally village with its beautiful brightly painted houses:
The bar that epitomises Co. Waterford for me is the Cove Bar in Stradbally. The fact that it has a painting of one of Waterford’s greatest hurlers, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, who is a Stradbally man, painted on its front wall makes it all the more precious:
Kilfarrasy was where I eventually decided to swim. It has been like a magnet of late, probably because it was the place where Dad and I used to go and sit in the car, watching the waves on that last December we shared in 2009:
Puppy Stan was waiting impatiently for me when I got home all energised from the sea. We decided to go and watch the sunset together ~ a little journey that has become one of our bonds in life:
At day’s end, the horizon was pencilled out and the dying sun placed her own little punctuation mark to identify this special in-between day.
Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Ireland but I’ve had my own little ritual for the day over the last five or six years. Weather permitting, it involves a swim, a picnic and a whole day by the sea.
Today was a splendiferous day here so I got my every wish.
Early morning with Puppy Stan at Kilfarrasy Beach:
Back home to gather up swimming gear and the feast which included Sushi from a Co. Waterford, award-winning company, Glorious Sushi.
My choice of beach for the swim was Benvoy, which is lovely and sheltered. When I arrived, a big golden heart was shimmering out in the water:
Onwards to have look at Faugheen Church which is tiny and divinely picturesque:
On the day that was in it, it seemed very fitting that one of the tombstones that I saw bore the inscription that the railing around the grave had been erected by a man in Butte, Montana, U.S.A. in memory of his parents. As I have highlighted before, many of the miners from the copper mines in Co. Waterford emigrated to America, and especially to Butte, when the mines closed down in the late 1870s.
As evening was closing in, I headed to Tankardstown, just across from the ruins of the engine houses from the copper mining era, and soaked in the sunset:
What more could anyone want? Now that my secret is out, maybe I’ll get start a Thanksgiving Movement here in Co. Waterford as we have so, so much to be thankful for.
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.
There’s something about stolen long evenings in Co. Waterford that wraps me up in sweet tranquillity.
Last Saturday, I felt the need to feast my eyes after too much screenery and found myself chasing the last of the light out along the Copper Coast. It was a dullish evening but I knew that there would be beauty if I let it find me.
Bonmahon Beach was deserted save for one young man making his way into the sea for one last swim:
The Yeatsian sky ~ ‘Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths…’ mirrored on the sand like a painting laid out to dry:
Bonmahon, like so many other cities, towns and villages across Europe, was engrossed in the EURO 2016 quarter final game between Italy and Germany and I met just one walker when I stopped to savour the setting sun. We said our ‘hellos’ and and agreed that it was a great evening to be out:
The bleating of sheep rang through the salt air and I thought of those days in Spring when I was out searching for the first lambs of the year:
It was very heaven to see the curtains of the day closing over the Comeragh Mountains:
Back home the screen was flickering and tensions were high as the penalty shoot-out saw the Italian dream fade and German joy rise.
No one noticed that I’d not been there for the whole match and that’s how I wanted it to be!