Co. Waterford is my native heath and I am immensely proud of the depth of its history, heritage and natural beauty.
Today has been one of those special days in my relationship with this county in the south-east of Ireland. After an early morning swim in Tramore and a walk on the beach, I decided to go to Mahon Falls high up in the Comeragh Mountains. The last time I had been there was on an orienteering trip in the depths of winter and I had vowed that day to go back on a sunny summery day.
The views were magnificent. Sheep and lambs were grazing on the mountainside, the waterfall was gushing down and all the while I could see the blue sea beneath.
On the way back to Tramore, I stopped at a shop tucked away at a little crossroads just down from Mahon Falls. It was called J. Power and Son, an old-fashioned shop that reminded me of the shops my late father used to drop into for ice creams sandwiched between wafers when he would take us kids on mystery tours around Co. Waterford years ago.
The man behind the counter, who was probably in his seventies, greeted me with a warm smile that lit up his kind eyes. He was tall and wearing a grey-green hand-knitted Aran jumper that looked like it totally belonged and had seen a lot of life. Sheer instinct drew me to the ice-cream freezer where I pulled out the first choc-ice that I’ve eaten in about 30 years. We exchanged a few pleasanteries about the weather and then the man looked at me and just said: ‘ It’s hard to beat Co. Waterford on a day like this, isn’t it?’ I agreed and told him I was from Tramore and had just come from visiting Mahon Falls. ‘Ah, so you know the county well, then. Tramore is a fine town. I used to go dancing in the Atlantic Ballroom there years back. Many a good night we had when the showbands would come. Mick Del and …..’
We chatted for quite a few minutes and as I left the shop, I felt like I had glimpsed the very heart of Co. Waterford in those kind eyes at a crossroads between the moutains and the sea. A special moment when past and future met in a what felt like an eternal present.