Everybody from Tramore, and probably anyone living within an hour’s drive, loves the beach in Tramore. At Christmas time, with so many people home, you release how special it is to have on our doorstep.
I’ve been walking down the beach every day. It’s a great place to meet neighbours, friends, runners, dogs, horses, kitesurfers, fishermen or see the Coast Guard helicopter fly overhead. Always with a good dose of fresh Atlantic air to fill your lungs and clear your head.
It’s one of my favourite places in the world. When I get home, I want to go for a run in the backstrand and sandhills. I was reminded how special it is when reading a coffee table book at home that my dad got 3 years ago. Titled “The Backstrand: Tramore’s Open Secret”, I devoured the entire book last night. It’s full of photos of the birds, fish, insects, flowers, people, landmarks and landscapes that make up this unique part of the bay and give Tramore its name. Trá Mhór means big beach in Irish.
Beautifully written by poet Mark Roper and decorated with photos by Paddy Dwan, it’s a fascinating read. The pictures are surrounded by stories from locals, poetry, historical accounts and natural history.
Read this book and the next time you walk the beach, you’ll notice so much more, that staring you in the face. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes true if you hold this book. Who knew that there were houses with families living down the Sandhills in the 19th century? Did you ever see the lone tree down the backstrand just after the sandhills start? Ever wondered how a tree grows its roots in sand? Did you know the Metal Man pillars were painted black during the war? Or what Cloughernagh has a pub as it used to be a small port. Did you ever see the remains of a fulacht fiadh? Surely you knew there was a race course and golf course down there. And what about the hill, which used to be near the totem pole that everyone climbed as kids?
The focus on nature is fascinating. We all see the seagulls, waders, swans and Brent geese over winter. Yet we probably don’t realize they travel nearly 10,000 kilometres from Canada and the Arctic Circle to reach us each winter. As someone into cooking I never thought there would be so much produce down there: wild garlic & thyme, cockles, fish of all sorts, seaweed (like Nori used in sushi) and much more.
The history of the town centres around the bay. Fishing, then reclaimed land and people like Rivers and Doneraile are all leaving their mark. So many boat tragedies, the Seahorse the most famous. I can remember the foggy July night in 1999, when 4 men on the Coast Guard helicopter crashed into the dunes. I was walking home after work in Crokes remember the fire brigade lights & sirens heading down to the beach. Little did we know – it was only the next day, we realized the terrible truth.
This book might still be in print, or else try the library. It’s well worth the read.
Irish Times article: Capturing Tramore’s lagoon in a labour of love