Christmas Day is drawing to a close here in Ireland and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your kindness and support all year. Even though I have only ever met a few of my readers in person, I feel that I know many of you as ‘friends’ through our connection here in blogland.
You might wonder about the photograph I’ve chosen for today. It’s one of my anchors in my beloved Tramore and here’s a photograph that Dad took of me sitting on it when I was three or four:
I ended up pulling out these photographs as a result of reading these lines from Waterford-born poet, Sean Dunne:
Or will the key of Christmas flick
the lock free and let me sail
at last across the threshold?
The key of Christmas, as I see it, is a mingling of love, encouragement, empathy and belief. I feel that everyone needs these in their lives so that they can realise their potential and dreams.
My wish for everyone here in blogland is that the key of Christmas will flick for you and that together we can sail across thresholds that matter to us.
If I had to pick the houses that evoke sense of place for me more than any others in the whole world, it is this row of four that are at the top of the road that runs down to The Pier in Tramore.
They are on a slip road that is to my left as I drive out to Newtown Wood with Stan every day.
I don’t know who lives in the houses but it is the buildings themselves that never fail to glint over at me and cause me to pause and admire their charm and brightly painted faces.
These houses epitomise Tramore for me ~ solid, colourful, on the road to the sea; houses that have been there since I was a child drawn down to The Pier look at the boats; listen to the birds in full cry in the tall trees half way down the road, and, of course, flit with a little terror passed the ‘haunted well’ that’s down there too.
No doubt YOU have a house or houses that smile at you each day?
Tramore, Co. Waterford in the sunny south-east of Ireland is the place where I was born and the place that has been home now for the last twenty-five years.
Yesterday morning I was woken by puppy, Stan, who lured me out for a walk at dawn. It was one of those golden mornings and I felt absolutely blessed as we strolled along a route which is beyond familiar to me but which is ever-changing.
Rather than heading to the three mile long beach, from which Tramore takes its name, we stayed at the top of the town. This took us passed the two churches, which merge in my mind as the child of a mixed marriage.
The Victorian Doneraile Walk, which has such wonderful vistas of Tramore Bay, called us. It is the place where my mother walked every evening when she was pregnant with me and I just love the views it provides of Tramore Bay. From there, we went to the Pier where the boats were tugging and waiting for the tide to rise. One man, though, was up bright and early paddling in his kayak.
The Cliff Road is the place that I associate with my own pregnancy almost twenty years ago now. I walked it daily for the nine months and got to know every nook and cranny along the way.
And our final destination was Newtown Wood which has the little bridge that I consider to be my very own social bridge.
I hope you enjoy this short slideshow of the photographs which I took on Sunday. I know that Tramore will never, ever look exactly the same because its beauty is ever-changing with the time, tide, light, weather, season and, I suppose, the mood and interests of the beholder.
Last night, a quick walk with puppy Stan, turned out to be a two and a half hour stroll that brought home to me many of the things I absolutely adore about the Ireland ~ and especially the Tramore, that is both my native heath and the place where I’ve now lived permanently for 23 years.
It was a very drizzly evening and when I popped into our busy, vibrant local Centra shop, I just loved the way the cheery guy who was stacking shelves said: Sure we get all four seasons in one day in this country. I’d never thought of it that way before but he’s right and the four seasons can also, of course, mean meeting with people from all generations. Tramore is a town with a population of around 11,000 which swells, like the high tide, during the tourist season and on sunny Sundays.
I didn’t meet a soul out for the walk that took me down passed the beautifully named Glór na Mara school ( Glór na Mara translates into Voice/Sound of the Sea). It is just at this point that I catch my first glimpse of Tramore Bay. Yes, I could hear the whisper of the waves and see the lights of the more than inviting Promenade.
My Ireland abounds with glorious choices ~ drop down to the seafront or take a higher route along the Victorian Doneraile Walk, with its vistas of the Bay and views right along the cliffs to the Metal Man and beyond.
Last night, the Doneraile called, with its beautiful old walls, sweeping terraces and the feel of the salty breeze from the sea in my face. Tramore Tennis Club, that played such a huge role in my life looks down onto the Doneraile and, as I approached, I heard the last rally of a friendly game with the sounds of the echoing tennis ball and laughing players ringing out in the gloaming.
Out on the Cliff Road, it seemed as if the sea was rising up to meet me I had to stop to watch the bobbing boats in The Pier ~ not yet alseep, but wrapped up well in the arms of the harbour.
Though damp, there was a warmth in the air, as we made our way down through Newtown Wood towards Newtown Cove. Sea Pinks adorned the cliffs and I couldn’t resist casting a Wishing Stone into the gentle waters.
There’s an old saying that Faraway Hills are Greener, but I’ll let you into a secret. My wish last night was that Tramore will always be ‘home.’
There’s something extra-special about Ireland early on St. Patrick’s morning. Today was no exception and here’s a glimpse of what greeted me when I set out to have my annual glimpse at Irishness here in Tramore , Co. Waterford and round about.
I’m at the half-way stage of a Post Graduate Course run by the University of Wales on Sense of Place and would just love to hear what this term conjures up for you.
From the outset, Sense of Place had me over at the Tennis Club here in Tramore, Co, Waterford. I don’t think there’s anywhere that I feel more at home and at ease.
I started playing tennis there when I was three and it was just like an extension of our garden as we could reach it by crawling through a hole in the hedge. Over the years, I kept returning like a homing pigeon and it’s like the ultimate love affair.
There was a time when I was a madly competitive tennis-player and concentrated more on the ball than on my surroundings at the club. But now, I relish having to pick up a whole heap of tennis balls when they are at the sea-end of the courts. I can gaze out over Tramore Bay which is enfolded by the Metal Man and Brownstown Head. And just below the courts, is Tramore Pier, a magical place where the colourful boats begin congregating and clinking when the worst of winter is over.
I never cared that the courts were located in one of the windiest places in Ireland. The views made up for tennis balls swirling all over the place and on hot summer days there’s always a refreshing sea breeze to stave off any sense of being in a burning cauldron. Win or lose, one can always run down to the beach and cool off in the waves.
Really, what more could anyone want?
But, dear Readers, I know that you have places that mean to you what Tramore Tennis Club means to me. Where are they in this wide world of ours ~ your favourite armchair, the bottom of your garden, Paris, San Francisco, the middle of The Great Gatsby, your blog, a tiny restaurant high up in the Alps, your local library, in your lover’s arms …..
It’s not one of those notable days, like Valentine’s Day, but it sure felt special when I was out and about early this morning. I began to wonder if any day is ‘ordinary’ and remembered conversations with my late mother about how it is the little things that one tends to remember most.
I had an hour or two to spare so just headed off, with my beloved King Charles, and decided to soak up Spring. Here’s a few photos that will remind me forever of the intense beauty that was everywhere on this ‘ordinary’ February Friday!