Tides and Tales Heritage Week 2023 events

It’s been a hectic Heritage Week 2023, in fact, my busiest yet with three seperate events.

We kicked off on Sunday 13th August with a presentation in Byrnes of Ballyhack, Co Wexford which focused on the history of Salmon fishing here in the harbour area, the boats, nets and what the fishery meant to the communities. I was invited to provide this on behalf of the Ballyhack & Arthurstown Residents Association.

A busy Arthurstown during the Salmon fishing season, photo courtesy of Liam Ryan. While below some images of Passage and Ballyhack via Brian and Eoghan Cleare

My second event was in the county library in Dungarvan on Thursday 17th August at 6.30pm. The evening was in memory of the late John Young. John was a hero of mine, one of these passionate local history champions who did so much to promote the maritime history of Dungarvan and my 40-minute talk concentrated on the book that he wrote on the subject. This was the largest audience I ever had, estimated at over 100, with standing room only.

I knew that the audience was not there to hear me as such, but rather to support the family of Johns. However, somehow I managed to rise above the nerves that threatened to choke me and, from the feedback I received after, managed to connect with the crowd. Johns’s family had decided to donate a large number of Johns books to the library to support others’ research, and among them are many titles that are now collectibles and crucial to the maritime history of Waterford including titles by the late Bill Irish, Niall O’Brien’s book on the Blackwater, the works of Eddie Bourke etc. A terrific collection, now freely available.

Me, trying to look confident, I did warm to the task though, photo courtesy of Damien Geoghegan

My final event was on home turf – a really personal project of mine – Time and Tide wait for no one. This event focused on the role of the tides in Cheekpoint in the days of the commercial fishery. I thought this fitted nicely into Water Heritage Day. A wonderful group of very enthusiastic and questioning participants came along and it made for a terrific engagement. We explored the tides and how they work, spring and neaps and how you can read the signs of these on the strand, the various fishing practices and how these harnessed the tides, the salmon drifts and how these were governed by state laws, but also laws that were more important – rules handed down within the community. Tomás Sullivan came along with his boat and took groups of four away to experience the tides from the river, and we were fortunate to have not one, but two ships pass up. Time for a well earned break now

Explaining the workings of a fishing weir – thanks to Deena for the photo
Talking neap tides but I needed to stop and discuss the roles of shipping and pilots as the MV Eemslift Ellen came up. Something I take for granted was a real wow factor for the group. An Arklow ship came up later. Photo via Alison
Tomás provided a very popular element to the talk, we’re hoping to do more like this if the weather improves, stay tuned for more info
Fish sales and my father’s conch shell, used to signal the fish buyer to stop.

Thanks to all who came along to the events this year, looking forward to next years already