Paddy Dwan (photographer) and Mark Roper (poet) have joined together to produce a most beautiful fusion of pictures and words in The River Book – A Celebration of the Suir. The colour photography is beautiful and evocative and page after page you experience nature at first hand from Lowest Ebb to majestic tidal race.
The prose and poetry is pristine and you can sense the “Ribbon of Stillness” and that same river “No Longer Liquid” and the excitement of “Begins to Run.”
You get tall fishing tales from Fiddown in 1943 – a salmon of 9lbs weight at 3/6 old money at a time when a weekly working wage was £1. You even get a bloody lesson on how to kill a salmon with a stick.
A strong sense of history seeps out from this beautiful book like “mist rising high above the river’s body of water” and the river as “a bird whose slow wings makes light of mountains.”
The new bridge stands majestic while a black and white shot of the old dredger Port Láirge looks lost in memory. The range of Quayside images, mixes the beautiful with the tarnishing images of abandoned material and derelict buildings as Paddy Dwan’s visual narratives illustrates the almost infinitive and intimate variation of a river that is part of our being and our imagination.
Ray McGrath adds much to our understanding of the estuary of the Suir and the people who made a living from its waters. Mark Roper in River in Mind catches the almost unacknowledged presence of this river in our lives.
Breda Murphy from Cheekpoint tells a wonderful story of her father who worked away on The Great Western and the family saluting the ship as it passed the family home in Crooke. Her story about confusing her father with another visitor to her house is as poignant and powerful as Foster by Claire Keegan.
Towards the end of this beautiful book in Estuary, Mark Roper asks:
Am I river; am I sea?
I am all uncertainty.
A light-washed, wind-sprinkled quilt
Seamed with salt and seamed with silt.
Green, blue, purple, silver, grey
Never leave but never stay.
The River Book will be launched on 15th October at 7.30pm in Greyfriars Gallery and it will be a collector’s item. Go out and get your copy and treasure it.