Sense of Place

Tramore has a new lingerie shop and I simply love the name:

Queen Street, Tramore, Co. Waterford

The Ladies’ Slip has been part of Tramore’s history for years and years and is one of the swimming places for changing and sunbathing.

It is part of the lore of the town at this point as men and women mix.

Here is how the Ladies’Slip was looking yesterday:

Ladies’ Slip, Tramore

I’m hoping that the new lingerie shop attracts lots of customers when our non-essential retail opens next Monday as Ireland takes yet another step out of the Lockdown that has been in place since the beginning of the year.

My Place

Out along the Cliff Road, Tramore

This is a tiny piece of coastline that is extremely precious to me and never, ever disappoints. It is to the right of Tramore Bay and has threaded through my life since babyhood.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t make my way out there just to see how it’s looking. It has never yet looked the same so offers a new vista each time I see it.

My Tramore

Sense of Place

I was fortunate enough to be able to walk the 8km around Tramore Beach early this morning and on my way back I came to the row of old railway sleepers that are on the Back Strand – that is behind the sand dunes away from the sea.

I stopped, as I often do, to feel them and just admire the worn wood. I realised as I stood there that these bits of wood symbolise my precious Tramore to me more than practically anything else. I have loved them since I was a tiny kid and I think I would recognise them anywhere no matter what context they were presented in.

So often, it is little incidental things that burn their way into our hearts as opposed to the much more obvious. Just one glimpse at the sleepers and I can feel everything about the beach that is my darling place.

The Unexpected

Christmas cards are not really on my agenda any more whereas they used to be a huge part of Christmas.

However, the other day a big thick old fashioned card arrived for me and I didn’t recognize the handwriting.

It was from a woman I met just once in my life about 4 years ago.

I was back in West Clare on the pavement across the road from where my late father grew up. I had heard all about the house from him but had never been in it because it was gone out of the family.

A woman saw me looking across at the building and asked me if I was okay. I explained that it was my father’s home place and that I just wanted to soak it in. She insisted that the owner, who was a friend of hers would be more than happy to let me see around and went and knocked on the door before I could say a word. It was near enough to 9pm in the summer.

I was greeted like a long lost relation and the woman, who had bought the house from my relations, was incredibly generous in terms of showing me all the rooms that I had heard so much about from Dad and also the back yard where they had kept dogs and horses.

The friend left before a cuppa appeared and the lady and I chatted very late into the night.

I couldn’t believe I was sitting in the same kitchen with the same lovely tiles my father had described.

I left that night feeling like I had been given a very precious gift of connection to my father’s youth.

I wrote a thank you letter when I got home and often thought of that special evening in the intervening years.

Then the Christmas card arrived on Friday and a letter fell out full of cheer and an invitation to visit again.

It has left me with the warmest glow and hope for a trip West when Covid allows.

I found a card that I think the 91 year old lady will appreciate and I hope it brings a smile to her lovely face.

We have a huge amount left to talk about and, for now, maybe we will settle for letter-writing. Hard to beat it!

Dear Co. Waterford …

Dear Co. Waterford,

You deserve a thank you letter because you have been incredibly kind to me throughout my life.

I know I left you for longish periods and had love affairs with Co. Louth and Dublin but you never left my heart.

Those first years of my life that I spent here were magical and you introduced me to the sea and the mountains as well as places full of history and antiquity. You also taught me the meaning of belonging and having a sense of identity as a person from this most stunning county that has remained relatively unspoiled.

The Copper Coast

Your allure meant that we never lost touch and came back on holidays every year to make sure our connection was never lost.

I fought hard to persuade hubby to move here when we got married because I knew that you brought me a greater level of health and happiness than anywhere else in the world.

Garrarus, Co. Waterford

Some people long to travel the world but my joy is in travelling your country roads, especially those high above the sea for all the miles and miles of coastline you offer. And how lovely it is to climb into the mountains and take in the vistas all around.

Mahon Falls

Your jewels, for me, include Mount Congreve Gardens, Lord Waterford’s, Curraghmore, and the picturesque villages and towns like Dunmore East, Annestown, Lismore, Stradbally and, of course, my beloved Tramore.

Tramore Beach

You are a county that has lots of pride but humility. You love your sport and sportspeople as well as musicians and creative people from all genres.

I’m glad you haven’t changed too much since I was a child as I love the continuity you bring.

Viaduct, Kilmacthomas

Thanks again for being such a support all these years and I am really looking forward to being able to travel your length and breadth from Wednesday on after the 5km Covid restriction.

Love you always,

River Blackwater, Lismore


The Bypass

I have it in for bypasses – those ring roads around cities, towns and villages. I feel that they have half killed many lovely places and have knocked their hearts out with the building of out of town shopping complexes and the like.

Yes, I know they have eased traffic jams but …

Anyway, one of my walks that pretty much fits the Covid19  ‘no more than 2km from your home restriction’ is a loop that includes a chunk of Tramore’s bypass.

I never walk on it normally but we’re not talking ‘normal’ at present. I hadn’t quite worked out what exactly I had against it as a walking spot until yesterday when I went in the opposite way to usual and started with the old part of the town. That brings me passed my late parents’ house and the zillions of memories associated with them; across the top of Main Street, which always has me gazing down the steep hill to the beach; across Priests’ Road, with its looming church and houses I have known since I was tiny. It also includes a former sweet shop which makes me think of the day when I was three and waiting so excitedly to see Dad driving Mother home from hospital in our Morris Minor after a very close encounter with death.

On around the corner and there’s the entrance to Love Lane and the tennis club that was such a part of my life.

Up the steep Newtown Hill with its beautiful old walls and the place where there used to be a caravan site with terrific views of the sea.  Mother and Father rented a caravan there every Summer in the early years of their married life as they had to vacate their rented house. They adored the caravan, even though I never saw Father as a caravan type of person as he was big into organising his own space.

As I head up the hill, there’s thoughts of all the roads to my favourite beaches on out the coast but alas it’s time to turn onto the bypass. So, yesterday, I saw how the walls changed from the shapely old stone walls to concrete blocks. The bypass is straight with no twists and turns to keep you wondering.

It backs onto gardens so there’s no keeping on eye on how plants are coming along; just the odd glimpse of clothes flying high on washing lines.

About half way along is a roundabout that makes you think everyone should have at least five pairs of eyes. One of its roads heads to what seems like one of the new town centres. All modern and ‘busy, busy …’

The last lap brings me back to near our place. It includes newish houses and some that have been there for my forever.

This is the key, I think, the bypass holds no memories for me. It isn’t a road of my life as it will be for kids of today who will remember having their first cycle there or a first kiss.

I guess few of us move entirely with the times when it comes to place. Rather, we see familiar places in the guise that evokes the most for us.

If I live long enough, maybe, just maybe, the bypass, now about 20 years old, will become etched into my heart and mind’s eye.









On the Back Road

There’s all sorts of ways of getting from Tramore to Waterford – it’s just about 8 miles.

I love all the roads for different reasons and each has its own landmarks. Some are very personal to me and others are much more widely recognised.

The farm buildings on the ‘Back Road’ that you see in the photo below really stand out with the white-washed walls and high up green grain doors.

Shadows on the Wall

I make a point of taking the Back Road on sunny days just to see the shadows of the trees playing on the old well kept wall.

It’s always  lovely knowing that Tramore and the sea are waiting not far over the little hill in the distance and that you might  well catch a glimpse of a horse looking out over a stable door in the evocative farm yard.

The Slip ~ Tramore, Co. Waterford

There’s few places that feel more like home to me than The Slip down at Tramore Beach. It’s a place that’s all abuzz in Summer when there’s a bit of sun. You see relaxation personified and lots and lots of colour ~ deckchairs, windbreakers, lifeguards, ice-creams, tanning bodies; and there are the scents of coconut sun cream, fish and chips, seaweed; sounds of kiddies’ excitement and freedom, waves splashing, chatter of old-timers …..

At this time of year, The Slip tends to be quiet apart from a few tourists, regular walkers, joggers and sea-lovers.

I love the solitude you find there in Autumn as the sun is rising. There is the company of the seagulls and the familiarity of it all as this is the place where I spent hours and hours as a babe in arms, with a babe in arms, readying myself for a swim, or just whiling away the hours watching the ebb and flow of the sea.

All this was on my mind as I stood their very early last Saturday morning, having been woken at all hours by the dogs barking at I know not what.

The thing about The Slip is that you can generalise about it all you like but it is never, ever the same as it was even a moment before or after. This is how it was while I was there on Saturday for that stolen hour or so half in my pyjamas, half in in winter woollies:

Lighting Up Time

Day is Dawning

The Golden Slip

The Incoming Tide

Early Morning Paddle

Daily Constitutional

A New Day