Relief Rain

It was dark, dank and rainy here today but my heart was light as I got a letter this morning telling me that my two-yearly routine mammogram with BreastCheck which I only had on Monday afternoon was clear. Nothing can ever, ever be taken for granted, especially health, so that, on top of a good report  from my eye specialist yesterday, had me in a heightened sense of appreciation.

I have to admit that I was kinda glad to see plenty of rain over the last day or so because I was a bit concerned about my self-raising flour exploits up at the old graveyard beside Dunhill Castle in recent times. (In case you didn’t read about them and want to they are detailed here.)  I was back a few days ago and was slightly worried that there was still some evidence of the flour but the guy on YouTube had said that rain was required to clear the flour.

Anyway, I thought I’d have a walk along the Anne Valley and make my way up to the graveyard just to see if the rain had done the job.

In case you’re interested, the second grave that I read the other day had this inscription on it:

Erected by Peter Phelan in memory

of his Father John Phelan who died

Jan 6th 1792 aged 75 years also his 

son Mark who died Dec 12th 1779

aged 27 years

It was interesting to find that this grave, like the first one, bore the name Phelan. I am assuming that there is probably a family connection between the two and suspect that at least some of the other sixteen graves will be Phelan graves as well. It’s not clear from the inscription if the son, Mark, was Peter or John’s son but I originally saw him as being John’s son. Twenty-seven is a very young age to die and I suspect there was great sadness for those who were left behind.

The good news is that the rain has removed the flour ~ almost every bit of it ~ but I think that from now on, I will only use it when the days are very dry and I will bring a soft brush (like Mr YouTube) to dust any excess away.

The whole scene today was very different from my last expedition on November 27th. It seemed like the rain had beaten down much of the undergrowth so it was easier to see the whole shape of the ruined church and to pick out the tombstones.

Old Church and Graveyard, Dunhill, Co. Waterford

This is the entrance to the ruined church. I love the solid stonework:

Entrance to Old Dunhill Church

I counted a total of eighteen tombstones today and I think that’s all there are:

Four Unexplored Tombstones

The swan family were very much in evidence down on the Anne River. The cygnets have got very grown up and the walk was punctuated with them as they made their way through the very still waters. To me, the cygnets symbolise new life and the cycle of life, especially after time spent up in the old graveyard.

Those who are buried in the graveyard were once young people, a fact which is almost hard to take in given how much time has passed since the 1700s. But, the cycle of life continues …..

New Life




Yesterday was one of those days that overwhelmed me. It was overwhelming in a positive sense but I suppose any kind of ‘overwhelm’ takes a bit of processing.

There were all sorts of juxtapositions involved that were to do with time. The whole thing developed out of a visit to the ruins of a church and an old grave site close to Dunhill Castle here in Co. Waterford a while back. I wanted to learn more about the people who were buried there but couldn’t read the inscriptions on the tombstones.

It felt a bit weird to be going to the Internet to find out how I might get the inscriptions to reveal themselves to me. Maybe I should just leave them alone and let the ravages of time take their natural course. But, there on YouTube, I watched a short clip in which a man showed how rubbing plain, ordinary flour on the tombstones worked like magic in enabling one to read the engravings.

It was a bit on the foggy side by the sea in Tramore yesterday so I thought I would head up to the grave yard with my bag of flour and slink into the mists of time.

The Old Church and Grave Yard, Dunhill, Co. Waterford

The only flour that I had was self-raising flour and as I approached the graves I chuckled irreverently about the possible effects of using this as opposed to plain flour. Secretly, I was pleased that I seemed to have risen above the fog on the elevated site.

I only had enough flour to work on one tombstone. It’s the one in the foreground and as you can see I’d already done the deed by the time I took this shot. The flour does work like magic. I was able to read the full inscription apart from one date on the last line:

Erected by Matthias Phelan

in memory of his Father

David Phelan who Departed

this Life August 16 1781

Aged 63 Years.   Also his 

Mother Monica Phelan  who

Departed this Life February 

… 1795  Aged 72

As the words revealed themselves to me, I found myself thinking about all the times I spent as a child with my father in his chemical smelling photographic dark room watching images appear and emerge as clear black and white pictures.

And what of the Phelans?  David was born in 1718 and his wife in 1723. What kind of lives must they have led? The fact of having such an ornate tombstone led me to believe that they probably had more money than most. At a time of large families, was Matthias an only child and how did he cope with with deaths of his parents ~ 14 years apart. Losing parents has been going on forever and will continue as long as the world goes on. Matthias’ parents were elderly by the standards of the 1700s.

Even though I had no intention of climbing up the rocky path to the ruin of Dunhill Castle, I found myself being drawn there by the force of history.

Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford

For the first time in my life, I climbed up to the top and was peering out through the U that looks towards the church and what I now knew was the Phelan grave. Turning  on the small grassy space up there towards the Anne Valley, I was stunned at the reflection that looked back at me:



The castle appeared whole again, perhaps as it looked way back in the 15th Century. The holes that are so glaringly obvious when one is standing on the ruin were rebuilt for those fleeting moments that I stood watching as the sun went down.

What revealed itself to me more than anything yesterday is the extent to which life is made up of moments. David, Monica and Matthias Phelan had their moments in the sun and the setting sun; I am in the process of having mine. These are moments to savour, to use wisely, to share with love. They are fleeting and fragile but they have layers of colour that we can have a part in defining.

Dunhill Castle and the Bridge over the River Anne





Magic Things in Co. Waterford

I’m still keeping a close eye on the swans and their cygnets out around the River Anne and I simply had to check on them as evening was closing in today.

There were all sorts of surprises awaiting me:

An Old Friend on Golden Waters
Folded Note
Fairy Correspondence
Burnished Dunhill Castle
Watchful Eye
New Lovers

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. 

(W.B. Yeats)

Counting Swans

I went in search of my Anne River swan family and heard one cygnet calling long before I saw him all alone and looking lost.

My heart fluttered with delight at seeing him but broke a little too, lest he had somehow become permanently separated from his parents and six siblings.

Dunhill Castle, Co.Waterford

Running towards Dunhill Castle, I spied the rest of the family, gathered together and then watched as the prodigal son returned to his ever watchful parents.

The little reunion made me think of that special bond between parents and their offspring. The nest will soon be emptying but I suspect there will be insecurities and lonelinesses after the moments I was fortunate enough to witness.

These times, its swans not sheep that I count as I lull myself to sleep.


A Gentle Jaunt

What a relief to be able to walk again and with the blessing of my physiotherapist who was caring as could be about my back issues.

Where else would I go for a lovely flat surface than my old haunt, The Anne Valley trail with its cindery path.

The sun was setting and I’d no idea
how far I would be going – just relieved to be out of captivity.

It was pure Summer and seeng the ripples in the river as fish played,I found myself hummng: ‘Summertime and the livin’ is easy. ..’

Thoughts, too, of The Impressionists as reflections painted their deliousness, luring me deeper and deeper into the enveloping light.

Reflections and Reflecting
Dunhill Castle
Magical Moments
Magical Moments

I hope health is being kind to you too and that you are not in pain – physical or emotional.








Mood Swings

It has been a day of many moods in and around Tramore today as Storm Frank passed through after a night of torrential rain and howling winds.

Morning brought high tide and mountainous waves:

The Promenade, Tramore, Co. Waterford
The Promenade, Tramore, Co. Waterford

The Pier was barely recognisable:

The Pier, Tramore, Co. Waterford
The Pier, Tramore, Co. Waterford

Blue appeared and I had to chase it out the road to foamy Annestown Beach:

Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford
Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford

Roads and fields were flooded and my running place, The Anne Valley Trail, was out of bounds:

The Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford
The Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford

Dunhill Castle, high up on its hill, was probably the driest place in Co. Waterford. It has seen centuries of storms and floods and looked truly noble today:

Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford
Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford

This was the view from the window on the left on the wall facing us:

View from Dunhill Castle towards Annestown, Co. Waterford
View from Dunhill Castle towards Annestown, Co. Waterford

Garrarus Beach was pretty tossed up but had lots of new colourful rocks that had been unearthed by the storm.

New Rock at Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford
New Rock at Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

And, as evening was falling, the sea was still wild and stirred up but it felt like everything was okay with the our little part of the world again:

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford
Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

All the while thoughts of the the old year and the new year were on my mind and this gate seemed to symbolise so much about closings and openings; endings and beginnings …..

Time's Gate
Time’s Gate

My Breakthrough!

I find it hard to believe that I invented the word Phunning back on August 14th ~ just over three months ago now.

Lest you’ve forgotten or didn’t see the post, this was the day I made a commitment to myself to get back to running before it was too late in my life. However, because of a whole wadge of past injuries and illnesses (one of which banjaxed my back for an agonising four years and made walking up the stairs seem like climbing Mount Everest), I decided that I’d have to take it nice and   s  l  o  w  l  y  and have plenty of  fun and photography along the way.

My big ambition was to get to be able to run the Anne Valley Trail that links Dunhill Village here  in Co. Waterford to the stunning ruins of Dunhill Castle that is said to predate even Waterford City itself (and it’s the oldest city in Ireland).

Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford.
Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford.

The trail is 2.2km each way so the aim was to do up and back ~ 4.4km. It started with far more walking than running; walk 30 paces, run 10 paces; walk 20 paces, run 20 paces. In the early days, the counting was key!

I’ve been hammering away at this on a fairly consistent basis and have seen the Anne Valley Trail in all weathers, at all hours and move from Summer into Winter.

About two weeks ago now, I went out there on a damp, misty day and started from the castle end. I didn’t even have the camera with me as the vision was dire. I ended up running the whole way to the bottom of Dunhill Village. I was so delighted with myself, I headed up to Harney’s Pub for a snack and found myself in the middle of a pre-wedding gathering at 12.45pm. The wedding was due to take place in the nearby church at 1.30pm.

Dunhill Church, Co. Waterford.
Dunhill Church, Co. Waterford.

Sustained with good coffee and the perfect ham sandwich, I made my way back down to the trail and with thoughts of weddings and romance bobbing around in my head, found myself jogging all the way back.

As you can imagine, I was was pretty stunned and nearly afraid to go out there again in case it had all been a figment of my vivid imagination.

Dunhill Castle of my Mind
Dunhill Castle of my Mind

The great news is that I’ve now run the 4.4km on two separate occasions (without making the detour to the pub.) It feels like a huge thing to me (and it is!) but I realise that it’s a far cry from the marathon I’d really love to run one day.

The wonder of it all was sealed for me the other day when I found that the swans I have long associated with the Anne Valley had come back up-river to where I feel they belong.


So, now it’s all about keeping it up and making sure to keep the fun and relaxation built into this personal endeavour.

Little wonders will never cease!


Let There Be Light

We’ve had very little pure light here in the South-East of Ireland in recent weeks. It’s been as if the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ has been seeking to have it all her own way.

The country woke in a state of dejection this morning trying to shake off the effects of the horrible defeat by the the flowing Argentinians in the Rugby World Cup. (I knew nothing whatsoever about Argentina before this week except the  overwhelming natural  brilliance of Gabriella Sabatini and Diego Maradona ~ magical duo that should have been enough to forewarn me.)

So it started as a ‘one foot in front of the other’ kind of day:


But, as the new day unfolded, there were signs that nature was striving to lighten our spirits. I simply had to follow the opening sky and it brought me to the Anne Valley in Dunhill for my morning run. As I got out of the car, I was greeted by the clatter of horses hooves on the road beneath Dunhill Castle. Instinctive thoughts of The Highwayman, The Listeners …..

Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford
Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford

The light danced on the cinder path of the Anne Valley Walk and there was a softness that made running seem like the most natural thing in the world.

The Anne Valley Trail
The Anne Valley Trail

Dunhill Village called at noon where the Church bells rang out and the local dogs sang along:

Dunhill Church, Co. Waterford.
Dunhill Church, Co. Waterford.

No possibility of resisting a call to Harney’s Shop

Harney's, Dunhill, Co. Waterford
Harney’s, Dunhill, Co. Waterford

for a blaa (Co. Waterford bread roll) and some of  their home-cooked ham:

Ham Blaa
Ham Blaa

Perfect day for a swim at Annestown Beach in the heat of the midday sun:

Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford.
Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford.

‘One foot in front of the other’ took on a whole new meaning on the golden sands of the Co. Waterford Coast.

Happiness is ...
Happiness is …

The clarity and magnificence of the day lasted right up to sunset and beyond.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford

Come Phunning!

Sign on the Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford
Sign on the Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford

You’ll have to understand that cinder paths put a spring in my step and you’ll also have to understand a few other things too.

I used to run a lot to build stamina for tennis and have a fiercely competitive streak within myself about times and distances. There’s the little issues, though, of having broken my ankle twice and banjaxed my back in the years since I was running pretty much daily.

My main running started on a wonderful cinder track at the Lourdes Stadium in Drogheda, Co. Louth, which had been built for either the European or World Student Games back in the 1960s. It was way ahead of its time and made one glide along like a true athlete.

I’ve reached a stage in my life when I feel that if I don’t get running NOW, I never will again and that thought is horrific.

Sooooooooooo, I’ve come up with the idea of ‘Phunning’ ~ that’s gentle running+walking with absolutely no emphasis on times/distances combined with taking a few photographs along the way.

The Anne Valley Trail in Dunhill here in Co. Waterford is the perfect place for this pursuit. It’s a 2.2km (each way) linear path that brings one from Dunhill Village to the magnificent elevated ruin of Dunhill Castle.

Dunhill Castle from the Anne Valley Trail
Dunhill Castle from the Anne Valley Trail

The path is the nearest thing to cinder that one could find and it twists and turns around the Anne River.

The Anne River
The Anne River

I’m setting myself the grand goal of trying to run at least one way by Christmas and have been out twice already this week, interspersing walking and running. So far, so good in terms of the creaking bones.

The Audience
The Audience

I hope that by writing about it here and declaring my intentions to the world, that I will manage to keep going.

I’d love to have some company on this little adventure so maybe some of you former runners would dust down your shoes and find a trail near you and share in my de-stressing!

De-Stressing on the Anne Valley Trail
De-Stressing on the Anne Valley Trail

and yes, my hand does fit!

Worry Tree on The Anne Valley Trail

A Textured Morning in Co. Waterford

There was a lot of jack-hammering by our house this morning and I just had to flee the nerve-jangling noise.

So many places to choose from but I made my way to Annestown Beach and onward to Dunhill Castle and old church which look down over the Anne Valley and back towards the beach.

It was one of those gentle Irish mornings that quieten the mind and warm the soul: