Oh well, it has been a cold one but that being said we again were spared the worst of it down here in the South-East especially Waterford itself. We got off relatively lightly in the recent flooding as well, so things are looking up here in the Deise. But nevertheless it has been bitterly cold and for a more protracted period than we have experienced for more than fifty years. Many county councils throughout the country again like the ‘unprecedented’ flooding were caught unawares leaving people floundering and isolated in many instances. We heard the usual cries that a mere 3cm of snow grinds the country’s roads to a halt. Following such a fall of 3cm in Dublin last week all bus services were cancelled and taxis in the capital told stay off the roads. We hear the usual comments as to how well other countries cope despite weeks of heavy snow and yet the system keeps moving. Many folk have been on skiing holidays and see most cars and buses zip about the place. And this time there was a severe shortage of grit though not a particular problem locally.
Not just us
But we are not alone when it comes to cries or flurries of criticism as to our inability or at least tardiness in dealing with a few centimetres of snow. Well you would think they must surely know about snow in Canada and well used to coping with copious amounts of it. Well it’s a big country and its west coast, especially that of British Columbia around its main city of Vancouver has a mild temperate climate rather like ours here in Ireland. It’s a truly beautifully located city lying as it does between the mountains and the Pacific. While on a city bus tour a few months back another passenger enquired of the driver if they got much snow and how they coped. In response, this most congenial of gentlemen threw back his head and chuckled loudly with laughter. “Cope, you must be joking! Once or twice a winter we get a few inches of snow and the whole place grinds to a halt – God help us if we ever got a real fall of snow like other parts of Canada.” I smiled knowingly, I snow what he meant, it sounded familiar, I had heard something like this before and so we did again last week!
Ballycanavan’s Industrial History
So as we emerge out of winterland, I thought we would start with a few look-backs to one or two of my favourite pieces from last year. I begin with a reference to the story of Ballycanavan. This was covered as part of our journey of the River Suir from source to sea.
Where’s that many of you may ask, yet most people have been there as it is the townland of one of Waterford’s favourite and in many ways unique pub – Jack Meade’s/ Under-the- Bridge. This area is just further down river from the area we have just been describing. The Ballycanavan stream there forms the eastern boundary of the City. The pub being at the other side of the stream is thus in Waterford County. However the lower part of the stream here is almost in accessible but it is also rich in its industrial and natural heritage. The uppermost part of the he inlet can accessed from the car-park at Jack Meade’s pub under the bridge on the road to Cheekpoint. Great tribute must be paid to Willy and Carmel (nee Meade) Hartley who undertook the great work completed here over the past 20 years and more. Now there is a well defined and way-marked pill walk initially, which passes by a limekiln, one of a series here, among them a triple and double kiln. It is worth stopping to read the history of the kilns on the plaque there. The Kilns date from the 18th/19th centuries and were built by the local landlord Cornelius Bolton. The Boltons arrived in Ireland in 1649 with the Cromwellian army and William was awarded large tracts of land in the east of the county including Faithlegg. Indeed, Cheekpoint was known as Bolton one time and it too had a thriving industry. Lime was a very useful and thus valuable commodity in those days. The pill/small river here linked the kilns to the river Suir and as such was an important transport conduit for materials in and out from this busy industrial centre. So now you know!
The following was another favourite out-take from 2009. In many ways it’s a story of sporting Valentine romance for a couple who got married last Saturday (Feb 14th) in Limerick. Both rugby and hurling are both sports that are the very heart of the sporting impulse in Limerick for many the long time. Both the names of Mackey and Flannery came together for an appropriate bit of matchmaking celebration that Saturday at Thomand Park. A crisis loomed for couple Paul Flannery and his bride to be Eilish Mackey – the former a first cousin of Ireland’s/Munster’s Gerry Flannery and the latter being the granddaughter of the legendary Mick Mackey – when the local Castletroy Park Hotel announced immediate closure putting their wedding reception in peril. But the brand new facilities at the brand new all gleaming Thomand Park came to the couple’s rescue and so the romantic Valentine tie-up of two of Limerick’s great sporting traditions was thus celebrated in style. We brought you the story before of Mackey’s interest in and support for rugby in an era when Gaelic players dare not utter or see the ‘foreign games’ as they would risk suspension if caught. Seems like the dark ages now! So the solution was to appoint Mick as a member of the ‘vigilante committee’ so he was able to attend games to see if any body was there who should not be there!! I’m sure Mick Mackey would have relished the romantic irony of it all.
Go Seachtain Eile, Slan.