August 15th is a highly significant date around the world in both religious and political terms. Here in Tramore, Co. Waterford, ‘the 15th’ has long been associated with the height of the tourist season and always falls on the week of the Tramore Racing Festival. Horse-racing in Tramore has been a huge attraction for over 200 years now and draws vast crowds from all round the south-east and beyond. This is a week when the population of Tramore swells, but mainly with people whose families have been coming here for generations.
In the normal course of events, the sun is shining, the beach thronged, the Merries in full swing with people of all ages taking turns in the bumper cars, the Hall of Mirrors and even the little train that runs around the Amusement Park. With the races due to start tomorrow, one would be likely to come across a farmer from the Midlands enjoying his annual dip in the sea and happy to share tips for likely winners over the week’s racing.
Today brought a different kind of 15th with a huge storm blowing and torrential downpours. All appeared to be lost but after tea there was a break in the sky and Tramore came alive with people converging out along the Cliff Road, The Guillemene and Newtown to take in the magnificence of the waves. The sense of community was palpable. This was ‘our’ place; ‘our’ Bay and we were there together standing in awe. I doubt there was a person there who didn’t wish that they could have shared that special moment with people from past generations for whom Tramore was also very special.
Even when the rain started to fall again, and the spray was cutting into our faces, there was good humour and sheer wonderment at the vista that lay before us.
I just had to see Garrarus, which is one of my little sanctuaries about three miles on along the coast. Just at the turn down to the beach, the sky took on an orange tint and there was a hint of blue trying to blend its way through the dankness. Just one car at Garrarus, a father with his two kids and their dog. A sweet, sweet calm and hope that the races will go ahead with all their excitement and colour. But I know that memories of this August 15th will linger long in the collective memory of all who felt its force in and around Tramore this evening.