Overcast sky from Dunmore East to Passage East

Dunmore East

This wasn’t the same day, even the same year when I took all these pictures, but the weather in Ireland hasn’t changed for years, so let’s presume we hop in the car and take a  short photo-drive from one village to the other, with one stop in the middle.

We start our trip from the Dunmore East Port  that is situated at the western end of Dunmore village.  As I walked on the pier to the lighthouse that was established in the end of 1825, the grey drizzling sky suddenly broke open and gave way to a wonderful silvery light. It lasted no longer than a minute, and the scenery quickly returned to its usual grey self.

Dunmore East

Construction works around the lighthouse obstructed the view and I turned back. Two young gulls on the rope made me smile – why did they have to stand there is such an awkward position? Maybe it was a dare? 🙂

Dunmore East port

Regardless of the weather the cliffs are always beautiful. This is an old coastguard station, the most photographed (and then over-dramatically enhanced) building in the area.  If you keep walking to the west, after half an hour you will reach the Portally Cove. It is a cliff walk, but not too close to the cliffs, actually.  This time I didn’t walk that far.

Old Coastguard

The silky grass is slippy. I like walking alone, but I believe in taking precautions.  Two years ago a cow fell from a cliff in the water, but was rescued.

Dunmore East

You can see the Hook Lighthouse on the other side.

Hook Head

This picture of Dunbrody was taken many years ago from the same cliffs.

Dunbrody

To get this picture, you have to walk to the park, cross it and walk to the cliffs. The previous picture is taken from the same place – on the left, there is the port where we just came from.

Dunmore East

I leave the park and walk down to the village centre. During the winter storms, some giant waves reach the buildings.

Dunmore East

This is where we are heading, in the direction of Waterford Harbour and Passage East village, our final destination. Waterford Harbour is formed by the estuary of three great rivers: River Suir, River Nore and River Barrow.

Dunmore East

In the Google Earth image below, I have mapped the most significant strands on our way. Geneva strand is a great place for bird watching, but this time we will only stop to visit the oyster farm you see when you enlarge the picture. I don’t know how large is this particular farm (headquarters in Dunmore East), but some farms measure many hectares.

Google Earh

This is what Waterford Harbour and Woodstown beach look like at high tide. The photograph was taken after the sunrise from The Saratoga pub, “#1 of 1 Restaurant in Woodstown”, according to TripAdvisor. Fair enough.

Woodstown

This is the same beach at low tide.

Woodstown

The oyster farm workers are waiting for the other tractor to return.

oyster farming

Here it is, coming from the middle of the harbour.

oyester farming

The higher poles of the fishing weir measure about 3-4 m in height – something like two-human height. I recon the water can reach up to 2-2.5 m at high tide, or even higher. I have never seen it myself, but I have heard that the water in the harbour is leaving and coming very rapidly, as if someone is opening and closing a gate.

The oyster farm is so fascinating that I decide to come another day and check it out. To tell that I have no doubts about this adventure would be a lie. I am terrified, but my curiosity takes over, as usual.

It is a ten-minute walk in the soft, wet sand, between the pools of water. Sometimes my feet sink in the sand, and my heart sinks too. I keep closer to the poles, but have no idea how it would help if the sand swallows me. I just hope the poles are marking a safe path.

I have a longer lens, so I don’t have to come too close, and can take my pictures from a distance. The workers are doing something with the mesh bags full of oysters – inspect them, and flip them over. They don’t pay any attention, except for an older man, who looks in my direction a few times, and then speaks something. I wave to him and try to listen to what he is saying. I would love to interview him for this blog. Then I hear “… shove that camera in your face…” and quickly realise that my time has expired. With the broadest smile, I wave to him again, take a few more shots and walk back.

oyster farming

With no interview, I had to look up the oyster farming in the internet. Here is what I have learned.

In Ireland, they cultivate Irish native flat oyster, available from September, and Pacific Gigas, available all year. The Gigas was introduced in the 1980s, and from what I have seen, this particular farm cultivates exactly the Gigas species.

The tidal waters of Waterford Harbour are flushing the oysters twice a day, providing them with natural food. Bag-cultured oysters mature more quickly than those that are beach grown, it is why the bags have to be regularly thinned and flipped over, otherwise the oysters will develop a wrong shape.

The Gigas oysters take about three years to reach market size ( about six years for the native Edulis species). Oysters are cultivated to the size of spat first, to the point at which they attach themselves to a substrate. Then they are set out to mature.

There were many empty trestles that made an interesting picture.

oyster farming

These are the oyster bags. The holes are very small, but I could say that the oysters were the size of a half-palm.

oyster farming

oyster farming

On my way to the shore, I take some pictures. The distance is quite remarkable.

woodstown beach

I am trying not to step on the coiled castings of lugworms. Nearly there!

 

oyster farming

I found a broken oyster bag in the sand after a storm last year. I didn’t know how long it was there, and were the oysters still alive or already dead, so I let them be.

oyster farming

What made me sad, was the pattern of mesh on the shells.

oyster farming

We are leaving Woodstown, and drive another 5km. Passage East is a tiny village, but it is very important to the locals because of the ferry service between Co Waterford and Co Wexford.

Passage East

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Passage East

I have already mentioned Passage East village in my blog post Goats and Monkeys. A huge herd of goats is living in the hills, and sometimes they come down and cause a traffic jam. This billy goat is the leader of the herd. His diabolic looks are quite impressive.

Passage East goat

Here is the ferry, and some day we will cross the river and go to visit places around the Waterford Harbour.

Passage East

Thank you for taking a risky hike to the middle of Waterford Harbour with me 🙂 In my next blog post, we will travel up the River Barrow, and then up the River Suir.

inese_mj_photographyHave a wonderful weekend!

128 comments

  1. Thank you ever so much, Inese, for taking us along on your brave and interesting tour of Waterford Harbour. Your photos are exquisite. When you relayed the oyster farmer’s harsh words I gasped in surprise. How surprising that must have been for you! What grand adventures you have had here.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 It was a surprise indeed. Thankfully, I was done with all the photography and only had to walk a third of a mile in the mud back to the shore, sensing bad vibes coming from behind 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Francis. The pictures were not taken in the same day, and we have a bit of sunshine now and then too 😉 Some of the pictures were taken at the early hours of the day, some at the sunset.

  2. You made me laugh right at the beginning about the weather! It doesn’t change much in Scotland either. Lovely tour, apart from the oyster bit which I wouldn’t have liked to do. Particularly liked the colourful boats near the end.

    1. Thank you so much, Anabel! I agree with you that the oyster trip wasn’t really pleasant, but it was so exciting to walk so far in the estuary and take pictures of the shore from there, not the other way round 🙂

  3. That’s some great difference between low and high tide on Woodstown Beach. Does the tide rush in really fast? I’m not sure how much I would enjoy all those grey skies. Presumably the sun shines sometimes.

    That’s fascinating about the oyster farms. No wonder they cost so much to buy if they take 3 yeas to mature!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Sarah! I had no idea about the oyster farming before. I though that someone has to dive to pick up a couple of oysters for dinner 🙂
      Sometimes the skies are blue, some 30 days a year, may be. It is very depressing, and those who consider moving to Ireland have to stay there for at least a month to see how it goes.

      One day I will go to Woodstown to see that tide. I believe it happens fast, because I walked to the farm one hour before the lowest tide, and the estuary was already empty, as you see.

  4. Thank you so much for taking us all with you on your fantastic walk, Inese!!! 🙂 What wonderful pictures you made, especially from the cliffs and the oyster farm! I´m glad they didn´t make their threat come true – how rude they were, really! Maybe they were doing something illegal and didn´t want the world to know??? 😉 And it´s really sad about the markings on the shells, makes one realise how much we interfere with nature on yet another level…
    Anyway, just read in the comments about your new grandchild!!! Many congratulations, Inese!!! 🙂 How lovely this is 😀 Wish you a beautiful sunday and an awesome week, my dear friend!!! 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxx ❤

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! Busy these days, barely getting a minute to visit other blogs. Will catch up when I can 🙂 Have a happy Sunday! xxxxxx

      1. You´re very welcome, Inese! And it´s the same over here, I´m afraid 😉 Started on a new job this week and am looking forward to the weekend to catch up with everyone here 😉 Have a lovely week! 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx ❤

  5. Such a beautiful coastline, and I can see why that lighthouse would be desperately needed. Those rocks look treacherous to shipping. Oyster farming is very interesting, too. I’ve researched historical methods of oyster ‘fishing’, where people waded out into the sea, but farming them is much more productive! Fantastic photos, as always. (I hope you didn’t ‘shove that camera in your face’! Lol.) 🙂

  6. Ireland is so beautiful. Thank you for taking me on this journey. If I could, I’d hop on a plane and go there now. You make it so enticing.

  7. Lol, anyone shoves a camera in your face Inese and they will shortly afterwards be dealing with me and it won’t be their face I will be shoving a camera. Your pictures as ever were beyond postcard beautiful. Even the simplest one of the bench just took my breath away. All the ones of the boats are unbelievable. Love your comments too. The gulls for instance. We have all heard of sod’s law, that is gull’s law. xx

    1. If you were there with me, I would probably be brave enough to talk back 🙂
      Thank you for your kind words about my pictures. It means so much to me. You can picture things with your writer’s talent much better than any photographer.
      We have got a new baby, I won’t be on computer these days 🙂 A doll #3 🙂

      1. Ah you would have talked back anyway. You handled that with skill which is better than talking back. What is more you got snaps. A new baby??? Inese!!!! I need more info here …LOL. Doll #3 sounds—well— congrats are in order. Listen, forget me, you have no idea re how your photographs touch. I kept looking again and again –just did it there just now–of the one above the bench photo…four up, it is not JUST boats, it is beautiful in the light, the water, the mirrored reflections, the whole construction. I swear I had been on boats like that. I could smell the sea creeping out from the boards. That is what your work always does x

        1. It is my third granddaughter, Shey. The wee doll :).
          I love boats and everything that floats. We kids used to tie two boards together, sit in the middle with our legs in the water, and paddle across the deep lake, some 10-15m deep.

  8. Oh dear. The words “… shove that camera in your face!” don’t sound to me like the prelude to acceptance of an interview. I think he might just have been a bit grumpy that day. 😦

  9. You’re very sweet to feel sadness towards the oysters. Well, your precious photos pay them a lovely memorial. 🙂 I worry about your curious nature — do take care on your incredible adventures! 🌸 💐

    1. Thank you so much, Rose. What I have learned is that I should be careful taking pictures of the old men 😉 It would be embarrassing if I had to run from him in that mud 🙂

      1. LOL. How thin skinned some people can be and just plain grumpy! Well, your response was lovely with a wave and a big smile. No one can burst your bubble — good for you!! ❤

  10. Beautiful pictures, Inese. I love the seaside village and cliffs and the cliff walks. We don’t have those kinds of cliffs here (that I know of). Interesting information on the oyster farming and a surprising “interview.” 🙂

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