Birthday Thoughts

Today is my birthday ~ not that you’d know it from hubby and son who are the most un-birthday people you could ever meet, even when it comes to their own birthdays.

Birthdays in the house of my youth were HUGE days and it came as no surprise that Big Sis and Big Bro sent lovely cards and things, as always.

I had a gorgeous day ~ just took off on an adventure.

When I was coming back to Tramore the sun had just set and I found myself drawn to the house where we lived back then. It was here in Tramore.  Our parents were renting it and I got to thinking of how Dad would have come home from work ( in those 1950s days, fathers certainly weren’t in attendance at births here in Ireland), and made sure Big Sis and Big Bro were okay.  Here’s the house as it was looking this evening.

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My First Home, Tramore, Co. Waterford

Back in the 1950s, Tramore had its own little nursing home where many of the town’s babies, including me and my two sibs were born. It was about a two minute walk from our house so Dad used to call in the mornings and evenings to see Mother and the new baby.

His evening call would have been around the time I was passing this evening and this is how the nursing home of old was looking. It’s the near one with the red door.

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Lyon Terrace, Tramore

It’s lovely that these houses are still in existence and so well maintained.

I can’t but smile as I think of Mother’s description of Big Sis’ disappointment with the baldy baby that I was. She had been madly looking forward to having a little sister and thought I would be like her doll ~ Emily-Anne. As you can see from this photo that Father took, Emily-Anne raised the bar rather high!

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Big Sis, Big Bro and Emily-Anne

The card I got from Big Sis this morning certainly indicated that she’s well over her disappointment.

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As for Big Bro, he and I have been the best of friends since Day 1. He’s a great one for tossing out crumbs of advice so this P.S. on his card  was absolutely true to form:

Make the most of 59!

I certainly intend to …..

A Tramore Landmark

The feature of Tramore that you see long before you reach the town from pretty much any direction is the steeple of the Roman Catholic Church ~ The Church of the Holy Cross.

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Holy Cross Church on Tramore Skyline at Sunset

I was Baptized in this church back in 1957 ~ and even though I’m no longer a believer, I love the building as it is such a part of the town that I proudly call ‘home.’  Speaking of ‘home,’ the church is very close to where we live and I have a full view of the steeple just standing in the kitchen.

The foundation stone for the Holy Cross Church, which was designed by Mr. J.J. McCarthy,  was laid in 1856 and the tower and spire were completed in 1871. Before that time, a thatched chapel close to the existing church served the people of Tramore.

The Holy Cross Church reminds me somewhat of the sea as its appearance changes very much depending on the light and I find myself drawn to it in all weathers and at different times of the day and year.

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The Holy Cross in Early Morning Light

The Church has a Rose Window which was supplied by Messrs. Meyer of Munich and it is quite stunning from both inside and out:

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The Rose Window at Sunset

Here’s how it looks from the inside:

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The Stained Glass Rose Window 

The colour of the brick work is ever changing and I love its warmth in the evening sun

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as well as its shapeliness when viewed from the side against a blue sky:

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Tramore has a population of around 10,500 people and it is a source of constant fascination to me that it should have a church that it so imposing.

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Soaring Spire

What sort of church building is part of ‘your’ home place? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Seahorse Tragedy and My Youngest Follower

Today marks the 200th anniversary of a terrible maritime tragedy in Tramore.

I was deeply impressed by the way in which my youngest follower, Julie Clancy, who is aged 12, wrote about this on her blog.

She is clearly a young woman with a great future in writing and I hope that you will take the time to read her story about that fateful event which has left its mark on the history of Tramore.

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Tramore Bay, Co. Waterford

 

Evening of Light

There was lovely soft light here in Co. Waterford today.

Here is how it was:

Naked Trees
Naked Trees

Naturally, I just had to see high tide:

Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford
Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford

As the sun was setting, the cloud formations were mesmerising:

Cloud Magic
Cloud Magic

As night drew in, there was such calm in the moonlight looking towards the Promenade in Tramore – that place that sings “home.”

Tramore in the Moonlight
Tramore in the Moonlight

I hope your place is bathed in soothing light that calms your soul.

 

 

 

Solsticing in Tramore

December 21st is a HUGE day on my calendar as it marks the turn of the year in terms of daylight.

The Turn of the Year
The Turn of the Year

I was down the beach in Tramore watching the sunset at around 4pm and looking forward with glorious anticipation to the lengthening days that lie ahead.

The sunset was magical and it felt just perfect to be watching it on Tramore Beach looking towards the famous Metal Man.

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My excitement was matched by the gathering and twittering of the birds on the lamps that adorn Tramore’s Promenade.

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Oh happy days!

Brightness of Peace

It’s been an evening soaking in poetry and this is the masterpiece that keeps calling me back to read and re-read:

love is a place

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

(e.e.cummings)

The place that says both love and yes  to me is my precious Tramore Bay.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford at Sunrise
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford at Sunrise

What thoughts or places does the poem evoke in you? 

Going to the Bar

My days start with a quick walk around our block with puppy Stan. It takes us about twelve minutes but they are BIG minutes as we meet the day, see lots of familiar faces and pass The Bar’

‘The Bar’ isn’t a pub, just in case you were thinking along those lines! It’s just a set of railings on a corner.

'The Bar,' Tramore, Co. Waterford
‘The Bar,’ Tramore, Co. Waterford

But these are no ordinary railings to me.  They were christened ‘The Bar’ by my late mother who loved nothing better than to say to an unsuspecting person: “Oh I’m just back from The Bar.”

The railings are a few yards down the road from the school that my sister and brother attended up to the time Father was transferred to the Midlands in 1963. Mother used to wait for them at ‘The Bar,’ with one eye on the school gate and the other on the view of the sea. The old stone wall on the right of the photograph is part of the school property.

‘The Bar’ marks my first proper view of the sea every day. That viewing tells me a huge amount about how my day is likely to pan out. I can see the state of the tide, the size of the waves, feel the direction of the wind, get a good sense of the ‘real’ temperature.

The building between the railings and the sea was the first school building that our son attended from 2000-2003, so he and I (and our King Charles, Sophie,  used to walk passed ‘The Bar’ and cross the busy road hand in hand in lead each morning.

As I walk around the block, I can’t but think of cycles of life. It’s pretty amazing that I’ve ended up settling in Tramore just a sling stone from where my father and mother, from Co. Clare and Co. Meath respectively, happened to have their first home in 1948. I guess, though that I inhaled a lifelong craving for the ‘Tramore Air,’ in those first  five and a bit years of my life.

‘The Bar’ always make me think, too, of these lines from T.S. Eliot’s, The Love Song of  J. Alfred Prufrock:

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I can hear you asking what the connection could possibly be between ‘The Bar’ and these lines. It’s multi-layered but, at its simplest, relates to times when reaching/not reaching ‘The Bar’ was a measure of physical progress/decline.

My late parents’ final house (1986-2010) was a few hundred yards from ‘The Bar’ and I have vivid recall of how it was a huge goal of mine to be able to walk to it after badly breaking my leg in 1987. I remember the first day I got there and wondering how the hell I was ever going to get back again.

Similarly, ‘Going to The Bar’ was beyond highly symbolic for my mother in her latter years when her mobility was in decline.

As I walked around the block this morning, it hit me  forcefully how very mundane structures like ‘The Bar’ can carry extraordinary significance for people. The idea that ‘The Bar’ could  be one of my highlights of stunning Tramore may seem almost beyond belief but I know that even if the railings are taken down that I will always still see them at that corner on The Old Waterford Road. In addition, ‘The Bar’ has brought it home to me how much people perceive places through spectacles made of different times.

Have you got a mundane structure or place, like ‘The Bar’ which has a special significance in your life? 

My Birthday Eve

Tomorrow, October 18th, is my birthday and it was always a day that Mother and I saw as being ‘our’ day. We celebrated it in our own little way, for example, for years and years and years she made me a walnut coffee cake with an ever-increasing number of candles but it’s a cake that I’ve certainly never been able to make to the same taste, even though I have the recipe. I think she must have had some magic touch or extra ingredient that she added!

This will be my seventh birthday since Mother died in May 2009 and it is certainly a lot easier than the first one without her. I went on a 13 mile walk for charity that day to try and make the day matter. It was a good idea but I was a bit of an emotional and physical wreck before, during and after the walk as I wasn’t very fit and was heavily involved in caring for my father who was also grief-stricken and frail but who was totally behind my decision to go on the walk ( That was the last birthday I shared with him and we had a good laugh about the walk and all it involved!)

Seven years on, I’ve learned to be prepared for a surge of memories that surround all the birthdays that I shared with Mother. Today, I bought snowdrop bulbs to plant in her honour tomorrow (as well as Dutch Master daffodil bulbs for Dad). I also booked a ticket for a musical show in Waterford’s Theatre Royal for tonight. It was the magnificent Two Brothers,  Vladimir and Anton Jablokov, playing their violins with heart, passion and brotherly instinct.

Mother was never far from my mind as I bathed in the music. It suddenly dawned on me that at that time 58 years ago, she would have been in the little nursing home in Tramore, just down the road from where we lived, waiting for my arrival.

Father was at home with my sister (6) and my brother (3) and I regret now that I never  asked Mother very much about that night. I was born at 12.20am.

As I drove home from Waterford to Tramore this evening, I stopped at the house where Father would have been minding the other two and took note of the very short distance between the house and the nursing home. The tide was well in tonight and there was a lovely whispering from the waves when I opened the car window. I hope Mother had the sound of the sea to help her through the labour pains.

I had a root through a few old photo albums when I got home and found this photo of my brother and sister which I strongly suspect was taken around the time I was born:

My Sibs
My Sibs

The photo makes me smile as Mother used to tell me how my sister was bitterly disappointed that I was totally bald and not a bit like her doll, Emily Anne. (As you can see, I had a fair bit to live up to!)

It feels right and proper that Ireland should be playing in the Rugby World Cup Quarter Final slap bang in the middle of my birthday tomorrow as Mother and I never missed an International Rugby Match on TV together. I know she’ll be with me in spirit as I hide behind a few cushions cheering on the Irish team, with hubby and son,  in its battle against Argentina.

So Happy Birthday to US, Mother, and you were right, ‘Love IS elastic.’ 

Colouring Tramore

Whenever I see a rainbow over Tramore Bay, I just drop everything and whizz down to the seafront. I glimpsed a big, bright one out of the corner of my eye as I was in the throes of getting supper ready yesterday and took off to chase my dreams.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford

What more could anyone want than the sheer beauty of rainbowed sea and sand, especially here in Tramore?

Contrasts, in all walks life, can be stunning and the sight that met me as I turned when the rainbow had finally faded was one that will linger in my mind for a long time. There was Tramore in silhouette, as if highlighting the magic of black and white.

Tramore from The Promenade.
Tramore from The Promenade.