Winter Seas

Waves come crashing to grey sullen shores.
Powerful and strong, it breathes and roars.
Cascading and caressing each grain of sand,
A warm embrace between sea and land.

High above, a seagull soars high.
Wings of purity it spreads to fly.
Battling high against darkened cloud,
In a wind that blows fiercely, flying graceful and proud.
Poem by Edel T. Copeland

Growling Sea

Down on the shore, on the stormy shore!
Beset by a growling sea,
Whose mad waves leap on the rocky steep
Like wolves up a traveller’s tree;
Where the foam flies wide, and an angry blast
Blows the curlew off, with a screech;
Where the brown sea-wrack, torn up by the roots,
Is flung out of fishes’ reach…
By William Allingham

Image from Waterford, A County Revealed

Coumshingaun Lough

A beautiful, quintessential glacial lake in County Waterford’s Comeragh Mountains, Coumshingaun Lough is a habitat of peregrine falcons, ravens and the elusive nightjar. A delightful peaceful place it wasn’t always so tranquil, especially during the life of William Crotty.

The leader of an 18th century gang of highwaymen who like Robin Hood, stole from the rich to give to the poor. Locally born, his poverty stricken Crotty family where evicted from their home, so his career choice, for which he was well suited, was hardly surprising.

Crotty had a safe retreat – a deep underground cave only accessible by means of a rope dropped down – and another cave near the lake for the stolen livestock. His observation point at nearby Crotty’s Rock commanded expansive views of the highway and no one could come close unnoticed. He knew the Comeraghs like the back of his hand, so when he was being chased by the authorities he could easily hide on the mountain range.

The authorities offered bribes to some of Crotty’s men for information on where he was hiding. Local legend suggests David Norris, Crotty’s most trusted companion, accepted a bribe. One night when he’d poured enough whiskey into Crotty to make him sleepy, he wet his gunpowder and stole his dagger. When the guards arrived to arrest him, Crotty didn’t stand a chance. He was sent for trial in Waterford City in 1742, found guilty, executed by hanging and his head spiked outside the County Jail as a warning to those tempted to follow in his footsteps.

On dark nights, as the nightjars make their eerie calls near the lough, Crotty’s ghost, known as Dark Stranger is said to “come out of the mist, tall, dark clothed, moving purposefully, his footsteps making no sound.”

More about Ireland’s “hidden” county here

Whitby

Beyond the yachts, a glimpse of the Whitby Swing Bridge over the River Esk in Whitby, North Yorkshire, England.

Apart from its links to Dracula, the town is also famous for Captain Cook who moved there from Staithes where he had been an apprentice to a draper. The young man was besotted by the sea, and his passion that grew every day as he gazed out from his lodgings on Grape Lane directly at the harbour.

When he joined the Royal Navy he advanced quickly and was promoted to command, but before he making his first voyage, he learned his trade sailing on vessels from Whitby Harbour to the Baltics. Two of the ships he sailed on and commanded were also closely linked to Whitby harbour as they were built there.

However, it’s the Endeavour that’s the most famous of Captain Cook’s ships, seen below as it returns to Whitby harbour. The ship is not the original of course, but a faithful replica built to offer a brief opportunity to experience life on the ocean wave for Captain Cook and his crew.

The “Bark Endeavour”, a replica of Captain Cook’s ship, sailing into Harbour, overlooked by Whitby Abbey on the clifftop
and the Old Boatman’s Shelter Apartments in the foreground.

Pavilion for Scandal

The magnificent Royal Pavilion, aka the Brighton Pavilion, was created for the Prince Regent during the madness of his father, George III. Building, to the design of architect John Nash, heavily influenced by Indian Mughal influenced architecture, began in 1815, and contrary to what one might assume, conceals an interior theme of Chinoiserie – the then fashionable craze for Chinese decorations.

The Prince of Wales, who later became George IV, first visited Brighton in 1783, at the age of 21. The seaside town had become fashionable as a result of the residence of George’s uncle, Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland, whose tastes for fine cuisine, gambling, the theatre, and general fast living were shared by the young prince.

The Pavilion has long been associated with scandal, serving as a discreet location for the Prince to enjoy private liaisons with his long-time companion, Maria Fitzherbert. A rumour spread that a tunnel beneath the Pavilion Gardens lead to his mistress’s house, but in truth, it only went as far as the royal stables, because the Prince Regent was so unpopular and overweight towards the end of his life that he didn’t want people to see him crossing the gardens above ground.

Prince George may have loved his Pavilion but his niece, Queen Victoria, “wasn’t amused” and didn’t like it one bit, and sold it to the Brighton Corporation in 1850, which is why it is a visitor attraction rather than a royal palace these days.

Days of Future Past

The future: Mooncoin Coin is a proof-of-work based cryptocurrency mainly used for micropayments.

The past: A little cottage dating from 1757 in the Irish village of Mooncoin (in Irish: Móin Choinn, meaning ‘Coyne’s Bogland’), made famous by the song ‘The Rose of Mooncoin’, written in the 1800s.

The composer was a local schoolteacher and poet named Watt Murphy, who fell in love with a local girl known as Molly. She was just 20 years old, and Watt was 56, but the age difference was of no consequence. Both were intellectuals and would stroll along the banks of the river Suir, composing and reciting poetry. However, Elizabeth’s father, who was the local vicar, did not approve of their relationship, and she was sent away to England. Watt was brokenhearted at the loss of his beloved lady, and wrote this song in her memory.

“How sweet ’tis to roam by the sunny Suir stream,
And hear the dove’s coo ‘neath the morning’s sunbeam.
Where the thrush and the robin their sweet notes combine
On the banks of the Suir that flows down by Mooncoin.

Flow on, lovely river, flow gently along.
By your waters so sweet sounds the lark’s merry song.
On your green banks I’ll wander where first I did join
With you, lovely Molly, the Rose of Mooncoin.

Oh Molly, dear Molly, it breaks my fond heart,
To know that we two for ever must part
I will think of you, Molly, while sun and moon shines
On the banks of the Suir that flows down by Mooncoin…”

Winding Stair

My Soul.
I summon to the winding ancient stair;
Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
Upon the breathless starlit air … WB Yeats

Named after the Yeats poem and staircase, the Winding Stair Bookshop and Café overlooking the River Liffey and Ha’penny bridge became a famous Dublin landmark in the 1970s and 1980s.

One of the oldest surviving independent bookshops in Dublin, it’s unique atmosphere makes it a popular meeting place for writers, musicians and artist, a well known hub for debate and creativity with many poems written, novels penned and movies shot within its walls.

When its closure was announced in 2005, there were mutterings about the end of an era, but in 2006, Elaine Murphy brought the much-loved bookshop back to life retaining a timeless charm with many its old bookshelves, photos and memories. And it’s still there…

Many A Tale…

can be told be told by old doors. This one, patinated and weathered, the Mediterranean Blue paint revealing its age – and enhanced by a fusion of fresh new growth – in Andalucía’s Torrox Pueblo

A thing of beauty is a joy forever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams and quiet breathing….Anon

Solitude

A solitary fisherman making for Cheekpoint’s diminutive harbour, overlooked by Great Island Power Station, in Waterford Harbour, a natural harbour fed by the River’ s Nore, Suir and Barrow.

When Cheekpoint was scheduled to be a mail packet station in the early 19th century, the progressive and enterprising local landlord, Cornelius Bolton, built a pier, followed by a textile factory, a rope factory and finally, a hotel. Then the British Government decided to build a new harbour at nearby Dunmore East instead and the mail packet transferred in 1818. The passenger business that kept Cheekpoint alive ended, the enterprises failed and Bolton went bankrupt the following year.

It became a fishery harbour in the 19th and 20th centuries, famous for a small fishing craft called the Cheekpoint Prong. Distinctive because of the lack of a keel, it was normally rowed or paddled and used for long lining and salmon fishing with drift nets, snap nets and draft nets. Few, if any survive.

Then in 1995, a series of groynes were built up to 200 metres out in the river to divert the Cheekpoint Bar – a mudbank – that impeded large vessels from travelling to the Port of Waterford, The result was Cheekpoint harbour silted up so badly only small craft could enter.

An old, neglected Cheekpoint fishing boat with an anticipatory name.

If you have a connection to County Waterford and/or would like to learn more about the delightful Déisi, there’s photography and fact aplenty in my book, ‘Waterford, A County Revealed’.

Beckett’s Reprise

“Moonlight is sculpture: seen and easily discerned in good composition like a suspension bridge, where each line adds strength and takes none away.”

The exquisite lines of the Samuel Beckett Bridge, designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava, crossing the River Liffey in Dublin under a cloud moonlit sky.

The Samuel Beckett Bridge

Under a rare cloudless blue sky, the exquisite lines of the Samuel Beckett Bridge over the River Liffey in Dublin. Designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava, it’s his second bridge over the Liffey, the first being the James Joyce Bridge that shares a literary connection in more ways than one…

Continue reading “The Samuel Beckett Bridge”

Nocturnal Balcón de Europa

On a deserted Balcon illuminated by moonlight there are just four people visible. Three are unknown, the one on the extreme left is a sculpture of the late king Alfonso XII who actually named the balcony during a visit after the big earthquake that hit Nerja in 1884, observing that “this is the Balcón de Europa”. Overlooking the Mediterranean sea, it’s known as the spot for a perfect photo of the sea or occasionally a slightly enhanced full moon.