I was thrilled to be asked onto Tom MacSweeneys Maritime Ireland Radio Show to talk about my new book and to specifically talk about the Spider Light at the Spit bank, Passage East. Tom’s show is published online, but it also goes out on 18 community radio stations around the country. You can subscribe by email so that you never miss an episode by emailing Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org
Regulars will know that Tom has long been a voice in the wilderness in focusing attention on Irelands Marine sphere, and has been a great support to me on a number of occasions. Perhaps most significantly he wrote the foreword to my first book Before the Tide Went Out.
The Long Legged Spider Light makes up Chapter 11 and I was so fortunate to get an image of it in its Victorian era splendour from John O’Connor. Tom was curious to know the origins, the build technique and the work that it did. I was also delighted to call on the help of Pete Goulding of Pete’s Irish Lighthouses fame to help inform the discussion.
In recent weeks Naomi Foley completed a Heritage audit of the harbour and acknowledged the importance of the Spider. I heard the CEO of the Port of Waterford on WLR FM this week speak about it too. In the past local individuals and groups including the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society have expressed an interest in seeing it preserved. Maybe the tide is shifting in its favour.
Decies is the Journal of the Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society and is published in November each year. This years edition, #76, is packed with the usual high quality content but for those with a maritime history interest, it’s a particularly rich edition.
The Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society organises a series of lectures from September to May and a series of outings to places of historical interest during the summer months. The Annual Subscription is €25. This fee entitles the member to admission to the lectures and outings as a copy of the annual journal.
To be honest, because Waterford was such an important sea port and has been so heavily influenced by the sea, it could be argued that almost every article is either directly, or indirectly associated with a maritime connection. Pat Deegan’s synopsis of the Russian Canons in the Peoples Park for example highlights the international connections between the city and the realm in the 19th Century, the man who secured the canon, John A Blake, went on to play a significant role in British parliament including the fishery portfolio. Denny meats owed its very existence to the export and provisioning trade based in the city and is very comprehensively captured by John M Hearne.
Others of course are very directly associated with the maritime sphere. The wonderful energy and vitality of Christina Knight O’Connor explores the Viking age around Dungarvan through an examination of placenames, while Ivan Fitzgerald gives a very comprehensive and readable account of the siting of the Metal Man at Tramore and the pillars on Newtown Head and Brownstown. My good friend and History Press stablemate, Cian Manning gives us a review of Mary Breen’s fine work: Waterford Port and Harbour 1815-42 giving a fascinating insight into the founding or the Harbour Commissioners and the early years of development.
But I suppose my favourite article must be Conor Donegan’s 1917: U Boats on the Waterford Coast. It’s not just that Conor is a young man, still studying and finding his way in the world. And not just that he is a fellow harbour native, from Dunmore East. And not that he has guest blogged for us before. All this of course and more. For his account runs for almost 20 pages and gives a detailed and fascinating insight into the life and times of the harbour in an era of immense conflict and terror. He showcases the intrigue and barbarity of that particular year, locates Waterford as a central factor in the story, and does a great service to his native county in doing so.
Waterford and our maritime heritage deserve a wider understanding and appreciation and this year’s Decies certainly does that task some service. Peigí Devlin and her team of young and enthusiastic shipmates deserve great praise. Well done to all involved.
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