A Gratitude Thanksgiving in Co. Waterford

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:

Kilfarrasy Beach

Back home to gather up swimming gear and the feast which included Sushi from a Co. Waterford, award-winning company, Glorious Sushi.

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:

Heartwarming Benvoy

Onwards to have look at Faugheen Church which is tiny and divinely picturesque:

Faugheen Church near Kill, Co. Waterford

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.



Return to the House on the Hill

I simply had to go back to the derelict Mine Manager’s House in Bonmahon ~ what I think of as The House on the Hill ~ as there were so many unanswered questions after my last posting. The interaction associated with blogging is certainly one way to keep one’s mind moving!

It’s the back of the house that one sees from the road:

Mine Manager's House, Bonmahon, Co. Waterford ~ the view from the road.
Mine Manager’s House, Bonmahon, Co. Waterford ~ the view from the road.

I was determined to get to the front and see how it looked from there. I still can’t figure out where the main gate to the house is/was but I crawled through a load of thorny overgrowth and came to the front which rather took my breath away:

The Front Door
The Front Door

There is a lot of ground in front of the house and it felt like no one had been there since the front door was finally boarded up years ago.

The Front 'Garden'
The Front ‘Garden’

As for the ‘fire place’ round the back, there is definitely a space that could have housed a chimney – albeit a rather narrow one.

The Fire Place in the Back Yard
The Fire Place in the Back Yard

As the little plaque notes, the Mine Manager’s house had a good view of the works going on in the area below it:


This is a view of how the area looks these days:

Where Miners once Worked
Where Mining Families once Worked

Many thanks for asking all the questions that you did about the original post and generating my curiosity to go back and take another look at a house with a history.


America on my Mind

Today has been a  day when I’ve felt like I have one foot in Ireland and the other in America. I feel a bit like that everyday as over half the visitors to Social Bridge are from the United States and  my email, which is deliberately set with AOL, brings me all the latest US news, temperatures …..

While I don’t have American friends here in Ireland, I am very close to a number of people in America and, of course, Ireland is a country which has so many connections with America over history and many, many Irish people have emigrated to the States over the generations with lots of American companies setting up here in Ireland.

I must say, though, I was a little surprised to be greeted by  July 4th window art down at our local SuperValu supermarket here in Tramore this morning. It really added to the sense of connection between our two countries.

It’s always hard for Irish people to estimate how much American people think about Ireland but there is no doubt whatever that Irish people are very tuned in to America across all spheres of life.

Today, I was thinking a lot about the many, many people who emigrated to America, especially to Butte, Montana, from Co. Waterford when the Copper Mines went into decline here in the late 19th century.

Old Mining Works at Tankardstown, Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
Old Mining Works at Tankardstown, Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

I looked across the Atlantic Ocean this evening and felt like American hands were reaching out to touch mine.

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

I also feel eternally grateful for the great literature, poetry, music and film that America has brought to my world.  It’s been a long journey of immersion and this song from Kris Kristofferson was one which captured my imagination as a young teenager. I listened to it over and over and over ….. longing to be travelling across America:

And, of course, there have been so many great sporting heroes from America who have touched my soul, especially wonderful tennis stars like Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and the amazing Venus and Serena Williams ….

Serena Williams of the U.S. confers with her sister, Venus Williams (L), in the women's doubles tennis gold medal match against Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka at the London Olympic Games, August 5, 2012.   REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN  - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT TENNIS)
Venus and Serena Williams

It’s still July 4th in America as I write this post and I wish you all a very, very happy day and thank you for being so inspirational, open and warm-hearted:

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings

Calling the Mining Folk in Montana ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 327

I’m hearing that Butte, Montana, the place to which so many of the miners of the Copper Coast here in Co. Waterford emigrated  in the late nineteenth century, is freezing and snow-bound.

This very recent photograph of the the cliffs across from the mine-works at Tankardstown is especially for you:

Tankardstown, Co. Waterford.
Tankardstown, Co. Waterford.

And I would also like to bring you a poem from Leanne O’Sullivan’s wonderful collection The Mining Road (2013) which was inspired by the disused copper mines near Allihies in Co. Cork ~ mines to which some of the Bonmahon miners went before heading for Butte.


Perhaps this is why

I keep returning –

the dark

always ascending

and the light

retreating softly

beyond the shaft.

At nightfall

the engine hauls

you back

in ones and twos,

up past

the darkened galleries,

the sunk


and wet quartz


and glittering among

the constellations –


your own name

called out,

your hands entering

the world again.

( from: Leanne O’Sullivan(2013) The Mining Works, Bloodaxe Books)

Pride of Place ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 203

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.

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Meeting Montana in Co.Waterford ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 96

Yesterday this blog literally came alive. A few months back,  I posted a piece about the stunning Copper Coast in Co. Waterford from where many miners emigrated in the 19th Century to Butte, Montana in America when the Copper mines in Bonmahon closed down.


I sent it to the Montana Standard and received a number of emails from people with a passionate interest in the whole subject as they are descendants of Bonmahon miners.

Well, yesterday, I had the amazing experience of  meeting with a 70-year-old man, his daughter and two of his grandchildren and escorting them along the Copper Coast. We drove in convoy but the 70-year-old man whose great grandfather had worked in the mines was sitting beside me in my car. We chatted away and then there was a haunting silence as the mine works at Tankardstown came into view. Mining was nothing new to this man as he had worked in the mining industry in Butte but Ireland, Co. Waterford and the Copper Coast were totally new to him.  I wondered what was running through his heart and soul in those quiet minutes. Maybe one day he will tell me or maybe it will remain indescribable.

We drove to the little village of Kill, which was central to his great-grandfather’s story and as we waited for a delicious meal at Kirwan’s pub, he slipped out to soak in the sense of the place where his great-grandfather had been baptised and probably lived. I bade them farewell back in Bonmahon at the heart of where the miners had lived and a few hours later I went to a sreening of  a series of  splendid short films,   The Copper Coast Miners, made by Art Hand Productions.  Sitting in the Copper Coast Geopark at the showing, I realised that I had come thousands of miles yesterday in terms of gaining insight into the significance of the mining community of Bonmahon and how it has touched so many people in a host of different ways.

Moments before screening of 'The Copper Coast Miners'
Moments before screening of ‘The Copper Coast Miners’

Copper Coast, Co. Waterford connections to Butte, Montana ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 40

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.

Restored Copper Mines at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford
Restored Copper Mines at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford

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.