Instinct brought me out to the Copper Coast to see the very last of this year’s Midsummer sun and, of course, it was impossible to resist the temptation of a swim at Garrarus Beach on the way home. Grand light for swimming at 10:45pm among campers, fishermen and other sun worshipers.
So, as midnight approaches here in Ireland, I bid farewell to what has been a stunning Midsummer’s Day 2014.
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.
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.
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.
Co. Waterford ABC is a feature here on Social Bridge where I am identifying my highlights of this diverse county in Ireland where I was born and which has been ‘home’ for the last 26 years. There will be just 26 posts ~ one for each letter of the alphabet and I hope you will join me in discussing your views about the places, people, events, things that I select. Would you have chosen differently? In a county with such natural beauty and diversity in terms of history and heritage, one could quite easily identify 26+ highlights for each letter! ( See All Posts in this Series https://socialbridge.wordpress.com/?s=Co.+Waterford+ABC )
TheCopper Coastis a stretch of stunning coastline in Co. Waterford that runs for some 25 kilometres between Fenor and Kilfarrasy in the east to Stradbally in the west. It is an area steeped in geological features, history and heritage and takes its name from the 19th century copper mines that lie at its heart. The history of mining on the Copper Coast is very well documented by Des Cowman (2006) in his fascinating book: The Making and Breaking of a Mining Community: The Copper Coast, County Waterford 1825-1875+
The Copper Coast was awarded European Geopark Designation in 2001 and became a Global Geopark under the auspices of UNESCO in 2004. The Copper Coast Geopark Centre in the recently restored church in Bunmahon is a wonderful stopping point where one can learn about the many features of the Copper Coast and enjoy a snack and a chat in a hauntingly beautiful setting. http://www.coppercoastgeopark.com/GeoparkCentre.htm
Going for drives along the Copper Coast has been a fundamental part of my life since I was born and it is thestretch of coastline in the whole world that brings me the greatest sense of peace.
I love its rugged, unspoilt nature and the fact that it offers such a variety of beaches, coves, dramatic views of the sea and the Comeragh mountains, quaint villages, the working harbour at Boatstrand and a year round display of seasonal flowers and foliage. Major highlights are the daffodils which line the road between Fenor and Annestown in Spring; the sea pinks that flourish in Summer, especially beween Kilmurrin and Bunmahon; and the magnificent Autumn tints that are found in Stradbally Cove. Of course, all year round, we have the gleaming yellow of wild gorse.
There is a whole world to be explored in the Copper Coast area. Not surprisingly, it is a place that inspires creativity. The Wood Craft Shop at Boatstrand, which closed a few years back, was very special for me and I’m so glad to have lamps and clocks from there to keep the memories alive.