Railwaying

Everything to do with railways penetrates my very being ~ trains, tracks, signals, railway crossings, railway bridges, railway sleepers, train drivers, ticket collectors …..

Here in Co. Waterford, we have a just the job for people like me, Waterford and Suir Valley Railwaywhich runs along 8.5 kilometres of the abandoned Waterford-Cork Railway route from Kilmeaden to the outskirts of Waterford City.

The train travels beside The River Suir and always reminds me of Thomas the Tank Engine which was such a part of son, Harry’s, growing up.

As August drew to a close, I picked a day when the tide was high and the skies blue as blue and treated myself to yet another trip on the little train that has been part of my life since it opened in 2002.

It was one of those perfect days …..

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The Waiting Train
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Old Stone Railway Bridge
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Up River towards Waterford
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Railway ‘Children’
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Homeward Bound
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Bridging Time
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Friendly Welcome Back at Kilmeaden

 

 

 

Water Flowing Under the Bridge

The River Suir is one of the longest rivers in Ireland. It has been a part of my life in various different parts of the country.

Here’s how it was as I stood on Fiddown Bridge one evening recently.

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Back towards Clonmel, Co.Tipperary

Clonmel was ‘home’ in my student years and the place where I met up with hubby.

The Suir enters the sea a few miles from Waterford city. I see it almost every day and feel it is part of my stream of consciouness as Co. Waterford is my birthplace and home now for over 25 years.

I love the bends in this wonderful body of water. They say so much about the unexpected; and the hidden beauty that lies in wait.

But that evening on Fiddown Bridge, I wasn’t thinking about past or future. It was more a deep appreciation of the flow of life and being able to take in the fullness of the river at high tide as it brought a calmness with that gentle glow of pink as night fell.

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The Suir heading towards Waterford City and onwards to the sea.

Is there a river that wends through your life?

 

 

 

Old Red Iron

“Old Red Iron” is an abandoned railway bridge in Waterford City. It was built in 1906 and was part of the route that once linked Cork and Kerry to Rosslare via Waterford.

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Old Red Iron, Waterford City, Ireland

The bridge, at 1,205ft,  which was once one of the longest in Ireland and is just down river from what is now the longest bridge, River Suir Bridge, which was opened in 2009.

River Suir Bridge from Old Red Iron
River Suir Bridge from Old Red Iron

Old Red Iron oozes character and is just down the road from Waterford’s Dog Pound. Climbing up onto the bridge, one can hear the barking and whining of the dogs and that in itself tugs hard at the heartstrings.

Old Red Iron looking towards Waterford City
Old Red Iron looking towards Waterford City

The bridge has nine spans and the central part could open for shipping.

Old Red Iron
Old Red Iron

The central part has now been removed and can be seen leaning against the river side a little way downstream.

The  railway line was originally used as a faster route for mail between the transatlantic port of Cobh and London via Rosslare however it closed in 1967 only to reopen again 1970 to service the mineral processing plant near Dungarvan. The Waterford to Dungarvan line was used until 1987 when it was closed to the public. It was abandoned in 1995 and by 2003, the central section and the track was removed.

Old Red Iron has a melancholy feel it it but somehow its rusty glow has great allure.

Old Red Iron ~ Abandoned
Old Red Iron ~ Abandoned

 

 

 

A Waterford City Sunday

Walking along the Quay in Waterford City ~ the oldest city in Ireland ~ is one of my favourite things to do early on a Sunday morning.

The River Suir is nearing its long  journey to the sea by the time it reaches Waterford and today I started further down the Estuary on my way to Waterford. The sun was just about getting up and all was still:

Sleepy Waters
Sleepy Waters

The Suir was all agleam when I got to Waterford and, as always, my eyes were drawn to Rice Bridge which holds such significance for me in terms of ‘coming home’ to Tramore, especially from Dublin.

Rice Bridge, Waterford City
Rice Bridge, Waterford City

The skyline of the City, taken in the morning light, evokes a real sense of the immensity of the  history of Waterford, spanning back the centuries.

Historical Waterford City
Historical Waterford City

When Waterford blood runs through your veins, it’s always glorious to see this blue and white banner!

Waterford Colours
Waterford Colours

The names of the boats moored along the Quay are one of my fascinations. Today, it was Agile that got me reflecting.

Agile
Agile

Clearly, boats need agility to cope with the vagaries of the sea. But, humans need an immense amount of both physical and mental agility to navigate their way through life.

 

 

 

Waterford to Newfoundland

Plaque on The Quay, Waterford City, Ireland
Plaque on The Quay, Waterford City, Ireland

This plaque which is on a wall opposite the River Suir on The Quay in Waterford City always stops me in my tracks and makes me wonder how it must have been for the thousands of people who made their way to Newfoundland from Waterford during the period from 1670-1810.

Standing on the Quay this morning, I was thinking of how the River Suir, which was at high tide,  was so important in terms of transportation back then.

River Suir, Waterford City
River Suir, Waterford City

And, it’s intriguing to think that the migrants  way back then would also have seen Reginald’s Tower which is just a stone’s throw from where they departed.

Reginald's Tower, Waterford City
Reginald’s Tower, Waterford City

 

Festival of Bridges #17 ~ Spanning Lives

This final contribution to The Festival of Bridges brings me back home to Waterford, courtesy of  Clare Scott, who blogs with such talent at The Mermaid’s Purse.

This is what Clare sent:

I was racking my brain for bridges but out of thousands of photos none stood out ….. Then yesterday I was asked to drive some of my fellow art students out to the Red Iron Bridge on the Suir in Co. Waterford. The Red Iron Bridge is north of the City of Waterford and just south of the new bridge which takes traffic around the city. The bridge has been closed for years now, the tracks rotten and rusted.

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The Red Iron Bridge, Waterford City, Ireland Photo: Clare Scott
 It is a bridge that has drawn the young people of Waterford (not a few art students among them) for more than a few generations and its position near the city but spanning the river at an unbuilt-up spot probably makes it one of the few ‘wilderness’ spots familiar to otherwise urban youth.
To get there you take a tiny, muddy path up from a narrow road, near where the old railway track crossed it on a small ivy covered bridge. A couple of minutes of twisting through bushes and trees and past low grey walls tagged with graffiti brings you onto the tracks. You are immediately aware of the swirling brown water below and the places where the tracks are rusty. It makes me very nervous. 
The last time I was here, ten years ago, I climbed out over the railings to by pass the fence blocking the track to make my way to sit atop one of the pillars legs dangling and nerves slightly jangled. This time I left the stunts to the the younger people. 
This bridge along with the city bridge is iconic to Waterford people I think for the river in Waterford has taken more more than a few lives, some accidental, many not, and more than one soul has ended up at the feet of the Red Iron.
Looking at these photos it makes me smile that no matter where  you photograph young people it always seems to look like an album cover.
The Red Iron Bridge, Waterford City, Ireland
The Red Iron Bridge, Waterford City, Ireland Photo: Clare Scott
 *****

I would like to thank all those who have taken part in The Festival of Bridges over the last two weeks or so. I truly appreciate your contributions and the time and effort which you devoted to them. 

Festival of Bridges #10 ~ Sir Thomas

I was delighted to receive a contribution to The Festival of Bridges from Jamie Ryan, a Clonmel-based photographer whose website is here.

This is the photograph that Jamie sent:

Sir Thomas's Bridge, Ferryhouse, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Photo: Jamie Ryan
Sir Thomas’s Bridge, Ferryhouse, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Photo: Jamie Ryan

Jamie describes Sir Thomas’s Bridge as:

My favourite bridge in town. Beautiful walkway in that area and you are always guaranteed peace and quiet. 

Sir Thomas’s Bridge has a long history. It is one of the oldest bridges over the River Suir, having been erected in 1690 by Sir Thomas Osborne to connect his estates on either side of the river.

Clonmel was ‘home’ to me for almost a decade from 1976-1985. Sir Thomas’s Bridge was the mid- point of many a walk or jog and I spent hours standing on the bridge watching the River Suir make its way towards Waterford City. Back then, I never imagined that I would end up marrying a man from Clonmel and that we would move down-river to Waterford and onwards to Tramore.

I just wonder, as I write this, how many people have stood on Sir Thomas’s Bridge since 1690 ( the year of the famous Battle of the Boyne) at key points in their lives ~ knowing what’s gone before but never for a moment foreseeing what it to come.

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The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st. If you would like to take part, please email your contribution to me at: jeantubridy@aol.com.

 

 

 

Mount Congreve: A Garden beyond Words

There is no doubt that places one knows and loves deeply have their own special way of conversing. Mount Congreve Gardens certainly fall into that category for me and I can best describe the feeling through this short poem:

Words

I don’t take your words
Merely as words.
Far from it.
I listen
 
To what makes you talk –
Whatever that is –
And me listen.
 
Shinkichi Takahashi
(Translated from the Japanese by Lucien Stryk and Takahashi Ikemoto) 

 

At present, Mount Congreve is full of colour and the Astilibes, especially, are blooming in glory:

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However, what spoke loudest to me when I was there were hearts of all descriptions. I think seeing a painting ( I don’t know by whom yet!) of  the late Ambrose Congreve in the delightful little coffee shop set the tone for me.

Here was the man who had devoted so much love into developing Mount Congreve into the gardens that we enjoy today:

Ambrose Congreve
Ambrose Congreve

So, it was a walk defined by thoughts of heart, hearts, and heartfulness and one during which it seemed that Mount Congreve was speaking and listening by turn.

 

Sunday Sense

There are certain scenes that spell ‘home’ for me and one of them is crossing Rice Bridge in Waterford City and looking along the full length of the Quay. I especially like it when the River Suir is at high tide, as it was very early  this morning.

Waterford City
Waterford City

Where are your I’m home places?