Beach Personalities

Beaches are like people to me in the sense that they all have uniqueness and their own moodiness.

This always hits me when I go to Woodstown Beach which is in East Co. Waterford and at the mouth of the Estuary where there is a big meeting of rivers and open sea.

Woodstown has soft, floury sand that craves to be run through fingers, tiny and not so tiny.


I love the delicate imprints in the photo above and suspect a bird passed through not long before me.

Woodstown doesn’t have the stones of the beaches on The Copper Coast but has a carpet of shells that crackle as you walk on them while wondering if it can ever be right to break such beauty with heavy soles.


Of course, every beach has her own relationship with the sun. Woodstown, being in the east, is the place to catch the sunrise and there have been some magic moments there as the dawn breaks. However, I’d have to say that one of my favourite shots that I’ve taken in Woodstown over the years is this one, taken on Winter’s day, as it speaks of the tranquillity of the place to me and the gentle, gentle waves.

I’d love to hear about the personality of a beach that has special meaning for you.





Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford
Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford

Peace reigned at Woodstown Beach when I made my way out there very early yesterday morning. It was in stark contrast to the tossing and turning that had marked my attempts to sleep.

The end of August has always made me a bit uneasy as I feel I should be getting all organised and setting goals for the remaining months of the year.  No doubt, this is sparked by all those years of returning to school with newly sharpened pencils and blank copybooks as September loomed.

I’m now beginning to wonder how sensible it is to set goals and targets just because we are facing into Autumn and Winter. Is that a good enough reason to be doing such a thing? Or should we wait for the goals, or whatever one likes to call them, to gently ease their way into our minds and imaginations, in the undramatic, yet inspiring way, that the day opened up over Woodstown Beach before my sleepy eyes yesterday?

The very word ‘goal’ makes me think of games like hurling, hockey and soccer where the roles of both ‘strikers’ and ‘goalkeepers’ are key. We applaud the great goals but we also applaud the great saves.

As I sauntered along the beach, it dawned on me that there is a lot to be said for living in a space where both goal-making and goal-keeping can co-exist.

The nature of this space is peaceful, creative, interactive, vibrant, inspiring …..

How are you viewing the dawning of Autumn and Winter? 

I’m a Lucky Bitch

Woodstown, Co. Waterford
Woodstown, Co. Waterford

I’m in very grateful mood today just because ….. because I was able to be out and about in the sun enjoying the lovely scenery here in Co. Waterford.

Meanwhile, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are stuck in absolute awfulness, be it war zones, depression, grief, physical agony, starvation, homelessness, loneliness …..

How I wish I could wave some kind of magic wand and grant them the peace that I found watching a boat swaying on tiny waves at Woodstown Beach.

I know that the peace of today could be shattered forever at any moment but, at least, I’ll have happy, peaceful times in my life-box.

How easy it is to take ‘happiness’ for granted ~ why it took that boat to rock me to a total realisation of it, is something I’ll never know.




Flotsam and Jetsam

I go to Woodstown Beach here in Co. Waterford when I get a hankering for sea shells and, if I’m honest, a place that will comfort me in ways that nowhere else can.

Woodstown is different to my other beaches. It doesn’t have the wildness of Tramore or Garrarus, about which I write so often, because it lies just within the Waterford Estuary. Sometimes, we need a calm oasis and that’s exactly what Woodstown represents for me and maybe thousands more. This isn’t quite the conversation one tends to have with passing strangers!

Woodstown didn’t disappoint when I ventured there a few days ago but it threw up an image that simply won’t leave me. There among the shells was a piece of a willow-patterned plate, or maybe a cup, that I associate so much with growing up and with the intensely beautiful poetry of the late Sean Dunne who is arguably Co. Waterford’s most renowned poet.

Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford
Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford

Here is the poem that immediately sprang to mind:

Tea Room
Let it be solitary
as a cottage on a beach.
Let no sword sully
this abode of vacancy.
With linen napkin
and bamboo dipper,
let it be a shrine
for the ordinary,
for talk of tea
and the taking of tea,
best made with water
from a mountain spring. 
(from: Sean Dunne: Collected , 2005, edited by Fallon, P., Gallery Press)

It is so good to know that Sean Dunne’s genius will be lovingly remembered at the forthcoming Waterford Writers’ Weekend which runs from March 20-23rd.

Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford on National Poetry Day in Ireland, 2012

National Poetry Day, October 4th, dawned to perfection here in Co. Waterford. High tide was at 8.30am and Woodstown Beach sent out its whispering call. I arrived there shortly after 9.00 with my swimming gear and was greeted by the the most welcoming sea imaginable.

Tropical blue with sweet little waves embroidering the shell-strewn sand. While I had been thinking of John Masefield’s Sea Fever, on my way there, the moment I ran onto the beach John Keats’ On the Sea immediately took over:

On the Sea


John Keats

It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often ’tis in such gentle temper found,
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be moved for days from where it sometime fell.
When last the winds of Heaven were unbound.
Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody—
Sit ye near some old Cavern’s Mouth and brood,
Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired!

As I floated in the sea, it was as if I could see poetry being written by nature. The moon had decided to stay up for the occasion and was gleaming across the water at the rising sun.

A woman, who was walking her dogs, called out to me, with a smile: You’re crazy.

As I smiled back, saying,  Oh, it’s bliss, lines from Brendan Kennelly’s poem Hope came flashing into my happy and connected mind:

Our skies are brightening up today.
I love your company, dear friend,
and always will, come what may.

I dream of being the living song
everyone would love to sing.
Impossible? No. That’s me. Let’s keep walking

until both our hearts are singing.

The Power of Laughter

My father was a great believer in the power of laughter and he really knew how to laugh and see the fun side of life. He lived to the fine age of  ninety-one and was well able to laugh right up to the end.

Yesterday, I was out at Woodstown Beach which is near Waterford City and  one of the places he often brought us as kids. It was sparkling in the sunshine and reminded me very much of the days we used to go there.

Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford

I dropped into the Saratoga Bar, which is beautifully located with great views of the beach, and couldn’t but smile and think of Father when I saw this stone sign hanging on the wall just over the entrance to the kitchen area:

Father made a very conscious effort to surround himself with humour both in the form of people with whom he could share a laugh and books and clippings of humour of all descriptions.  He kept scrapbooks for many years during the 1940s and 1950s. These are huge tomes  in which he  pulled together cuttings relating to local, national and international news which were of particular interest to him. Obviously, much of the material is of a serious nature but there is hardly a page that doesn’t have piece of humour of some description. Leafing through the scrapbooks today,  the first page I opened had this cartoon which is so typical!

Father had a huge interest in sport and this is reflected in the scrapbooks.  Here is a cartoon from the mid-1950s relating to the great Roger Bannister who was the first man in history to run the mile in under 4 minutes. Only this week he was carrying the Olympic Torch ahead of the London Olympics due to start next week:

I have no doubt whatever that Father would be in full agreement with Christina Rossetti’s sentiments:

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.

In fact, I think he would use the word laugh rather than smile!

All  this has made me think that we could proabably all do well to make sure that laughter is built into our lives and given the high priority that it undoubtedly deserves.

Spade Listing in Practice on Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford

Writing about Spade Lists and the importance of adding creativity and colour into the everyday grind just recently drew me out to Woodstown Beach yesterday. I was definitely in need of a break from the sweat of  coping with computer issues and  ‘running errands.’  Yes, I bought a big yellow spade and dithered about the bucket, as I’m not entirely about Bucket Lists. But somehow, the vibrant green bucket that was latched on to the yellow spade  insisted on coming too.

Woodstown Beach is just a few miles from Waterford City and has a sheltered charm as it lies a little back from the wide open sea. To my mind, it has the best selection of shells of any beach in Co. Waterford and is delightful in the way, like Stradbally, that it combines both trees and sea.

Woodstown Beach, Co. Waterford

 Running on to the beach, swinging the bucket and spade, I felt like the miles of sand was an open canvas.  Nature was creating all round me, the tide coming in ever so gently, seagulls digging,  fluffy clouds playing like huge soft duvets.  Down on my knees in the fine warm sand just above the tide line, I started my digging thinking about Australia, and of course, the water came up to meet me with a few lines of verse swirling around from my poetry friends down there.

The bucket edged its way forward in a little gust of wind. Pile in handfuls of sand, smooth it down, quick turn to get the best of the mould.  The sheer anticipation, sense of wonderment and pure connection with the sand was even better than I had remembered when I wrote the Spade List post the other night.

Lured by the whispers of the sea, I took off shoes and socks and made my way into the soothing water where tiny waves were weaving shapes and tumbling with rippling grace all round. All sense of  daily wear and tear ground away in these stolen moments.

Now to start my Spade List!  How liberating to write in the sand – no need for pencil, pen, computer – just one finger carving letters through the heavy grains. This isn’t a writing competition; there are no lines or margins. One huge page that the incoming tide will read and remember as it absorbs the creation that is mine but which has plenty of room for people the world over to share. So  join with me and take time to pour colour, inspiration and creativity into your life.