by Jean Tubridy
It seems like America is already gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day! A friend sent me a picture of a placemat of a map of Ireland and its attractions from the Greek/Italian, Primo Family Restaurant, in Alexandria, Virginia. Needless to say, I went in search of Co.Waterford and Tramore on the colourful map. Much to my disgruntlement, I found just a little dot mentioning Waterford, while various other places like The Lakes of Killarney, Newgrange and the Yeats Country were highlighted. The small print advised ‘Keep on the lookout for Leprechauns.’
Yesterday morning, I got an urge to go for a walk on Kilfarrissey beach, one of my favourite haunts since childhood. Driving out there, the Comeragh’s were looking at their best, leaning in towards Tramore, or so it seemed. ‘Yes, Co. Waterford has it all,’ I said to myself, as I thought of a glorious few days spent hiking up in the magnificent Nire Valley last week, staying in Honora’s Cottage, which I have watched blossom over the years from being a small craft shop and tearoom to become an absolute example of Irish hospitality, gourmet food and value par excellence.
Kilfarrissey was basking in sunlight. Its imposing cliffs were glinting and the waves were tumbling in, an absolute picture of Waterford’s blue and white. A trawler was busy moving along towards Garrarus, with a halo of seagulls hanging overhead.
Up on the cliff, a lone horseman was cantering along and the gentle thud of echoing hooves could be heard down on the beach. It was one of those perfect scenes and I couldn’t but think of how it epitomised so much of what defines Ireland. I wondered what Hollywood Movie Makers would give to capture what I was lucky enough to be experiencing.
I also thought that there could hardly be a better place for geography teachers to bring pupils to teach them about the features of the sea. Kilfarrissey has so much, sea stacks, sea arches, towering cliffs and, of course, magnificent views of the rugged Waterford Coastline.
Making my way back to Tramore, the leprechauns at Coolnacoppogue (Cul na gCopog translated as Ridge-Back of the Dock Leaves from Irish) were sitting out in the sun, as they have been for twenty-five years now. Theirs is a story of creativity and romance, as the late Mr. Power’s daughter told me so eloquently.
Soon after he retired, Mr Power, who was gifted with his hands, happened to come across a mould for making leprechauns. He thoroughly enjoyed his new pastime and he and his wife, Joan, built up a huge collection. He made them, while she painted them. No two ever came out of the mould the same and Joan painted each meticulously so a huge family of unique looking leprechauns emerged to live in the garden looking out on the Fenor-Tramore Road. Mr Power loved nothing better than to chat to the many, mainly American, tourists who stopped to take photographs of this amazing sight and regale them with stories and folklore about leprechauns in Ireland. Some time after Mr Power died eleven years ago, his wife, Joan, found great solace in carrying on with the work of both making and painting the collection, which is still such a feature of the area.
Back in Tramore, and looking out over the beach, I wondered if some of Mr Power’s magical leprechauns were dancing on the Irish place mats in Primo’s Family Restaurant, as breakfast was being served in Virginia, which is five hours behind us. I also wondered if sunlight was shining on the south-eastern part of the map, and beaming down on Tramore and its stunning environs.