Copper Mining was a major industry in Co. Waterford here in Ireland in the 19th century. It was based in the very scenic area around Bonmahon which is at the heart of what is now called the Copper Coast.
Every time I pass the main evidence of the mining works, which are located overlooking the sea at Tankardstown, my mind crosses the ocean to Butte, Montana. We know that many of the miners emigrated to Butte when the mines closed in Bonmahon. I often wonder how it was for those who settled in Butte and if many of their descendants have any real sense of the incredible beauty of the landscape in the area around Bonmahon.
Maybe, just maybe, someone from Butte whose ancestors came from Bonmahon will read this post and let me know how life turned out for their family thousands of miles from their home here in Co. Waterford.
Edith Collier (1885 -1964 ) was an artist from Wanganui in New Zealand who spent time in the beautiful village of Bunmahon, Co. Waterford in 1914 and 1915. This was all I knew about this woman until last night whenI had the good fortune to be among the audience at the Irish Premiere of a documentary, Village by theSea, at the Copper Coast Geopark Centre in Bunmahon. The event was organised by Sean and Miranda Corcoran of the Art Hand, which is a dynamic Art School near Bummahon the art hand . art school . waterford . ireland.
Village by theSea, which was made in March 2012, tells of Edith Collier’s time in Bunmahon and shows her paintings of people and places in the area. There is wonderful camera work in the documentary which sets the portrayals of this magnificent artist against images of Bunmahon almost 1oo years on.
The intense atmosphere at the showing last night was one of warmly embracing Edith Collier back to the village of Bummahon which she clearly loved. There was a real sense that she was back among us and I, for one, am starving to learn more and more about the life and times of this fascinating woman who serves as a major link between Co. Waterford and New Zealand.
Co. Waterford ABC is a feature here on Social Bridge where I am identifying my highlights of this diverse county in Ireland where I was born and which has been ‘home’ for the last 26 years. There will be just 26 posts ~ one for each letter of the alphabet and I hope you will join me in discussing your views about the places, people, events, things that I select. Would you have chosen differently? In a county with such natural beauty and diversity in terms of history and heritage, one could quite easily identify 26+ highlights for each letter! ( See All Posts in this Series https://socialbridge.wordpress.com/?s=Co.+Waterford+ABC )
TheCopper Coastis a stretch of stunning coastline in Co. Waterford that runs for some 25 kilometres between Fenor and Kilfarrasy in the east to Stradbally in the west. It is an area steeped in geological features, history and heritage and takes its name from the 19th century copper mines that lie at its heart. The history of mining on the Copper Coast is very well documented by Des Cowman (2006) in his fascinating book: The Making and Breaking of a Mining Community: The Copper Coast, County Waterford 1825-1875+
The Copper Coast was awarded European Geopark Designation in 2001 and became a Global Geopark under the auspices of UNESCO in 2004. The Copper Coast Geopark Centre in the recently restored church in Bunmahon is a wonderful stopping point where one can learn about the many features of the Copper Coast and enjoy a snack and a chat in a hauntingly beautiful setting. http://www.coppercoastgeopark.com/GeoparkCentre.htm
Going for drives along the Copper Coast has been a fundamental part of my life since I was born and it is thestretch of coastline in the whole world that brings me the greatest sense of peace.
I love its rugged, unspoilt nature and the fact that it offers such a variety of beaches, coves, dramatic views of the sea and the Comeragh mountains, quaint villages, the working harbour at Boatstrand and a year round display of seasonal flowers and foliage. Major highlights are the daffodils which line the road between Fenor and Annestown in Spring; the sea pinks that flourish in Summer, especially beween Kilmurrin and Bunmahon; and the magnificent Autumn tints that are found in Stradbally Cove. Of course, all year round, we have the gleaming yellow of wild gorse.
There is a whole world to be explored in the Copper Coast area. Not surprisingly, it is a place that inspires creativity. The Wood Craft Shop at Boatstrand, which closed a few years back, was very special for me and I’m so glad to have lamps and clocks from there to keep the memories alive.
Remembrance Day, November 11, has become very precious to me over the last few years. It is a day which evokes memories of special people in my life who have died. Two years ago, I presented a lecture on Remembrance Day in Alexandria, Virginia, on the subject of Losing Elderly Parents. It was entitled: On Lives Well Spent: Coping with Losing Elderly Parents. I look back now and wonder how I ever managed to give the lecture as it was only two months after my father had died.
The main thrust of the lecture was about the extent to which Cicero’s book, On a Life Well Spent,written in 50BC, had helped me enormously in coping with losing both my parents within a period of sixteen months. I found great comfort in Cicero’s seasonal approach to life and his view of old age as winter. I also loved the way he wrote about death in terms of finding safe harbour after the tossings of life.
Cicero was a person who found huge solace in writing as a way of coping with the death of his daughter and I can identify totally with this as writing has been extremely therapeutic for me in grappling with the flood of emotions which are associated with losing loved ones.
This year, I decided to run a workshop, here in Co. Waterford, called Write toRemember. Over the last two years, I have become more and more convinced that celebrating the lives of loved ones who have died, through various forms of creativity, such as writing, painting, gardening, photography ….. can be very therapeutic. There is no easy way to lose someone you love but feeling his/her presence in everyday life and embracing that can be so comforting and inspiring.
Finding the ‘right’ venue for the Write to Remember Workshop on Sunday, which runs from 3pm-5pm, was crucially important to me. It takes place in the Copper Coast Geopark Centre in Bunmahon, Co. Waterford. This is a restored church along a stretch of the most beautiful coastline in the world and, yes, I will be stopping en route to look at the waves on Annestown Beach and the arms of the harbour at Boatstrand, places where I spent so many happy times with my parents over their long lives.
‘Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad.’ (Christina Rossetti)