Waterford

St. John’s River: Straightening

St. John’s river walk continues ๐Ÿ™‚ย  You will start at Poleberry, walk along the sport grounds and Tramore Road Business Park, cross the Inner Ring road and stop at the Cherrymount foot bridge. I will leave some short captions over the photographs – you can read them as you walk. But first please watch two videos.

A video courtesy of a Friend of St. John’s River Eoin Nevins brings you back to 2007 – it shows the part of the river you have visited in my previous blog posts.

 

The other video is about the old Waterford-Tramore railway. The part of the cycling/walkway you are on was constructed along the line of this railway and opened in August 2015.

 

If you want to know more about our birds, here is a helpful link.ย  When I struggle to identify a bird, I simply send a bird picture to Birdwatch Ireland and always get a prompt reply.

Starlings gather on the sports field netting after the sunset.

Wrens are common on this stretch of the river. They will wait until you walk past, and start singing right behind your back.

Female Blackbird is jerking her tail in annoyance: too many dogs, too many people.

Cormorant is getting ready for his fishing trip.

Cormorants can stay under water a whole minute.

A couple of very shy Moorhens settled at this stretch of the river. They are safe behind the high fencing.

After crossing the Inner Ring road, you are greeted with the bird songs. This is a great bird watching opportunity close to the city boundaries.

Dunnock on the other side of the river sings his head off. Generally shy birds, Dunnocks are seldom seen in the open space. You can read some interesting facts about dunnocks in this article.

A great singer, Eurasian blackcap, could be a winter guest from the Central Europe. Irish population of Blackcaps migrate to North Africa in the autumn.

More wrens in the bushy area. They are one of my favorite birds.

The song thrush is speckled with dark heart-shaped spots, and both male and female look similar. The male Song thrush has a loud and clear song.

You can listen to the Blackbird’s song here to compare. The bird in the picture is a female, you can hear a female song in this video, just wait a couple ofย  seconds. These birds are very vocal, and they have a range of warning calls.

The Collared dove and Wood pigeon are common along the river walk.

This is a male Collared dove, and he is singing ( look at his throat).

Female Collared dove.

Napping Wood pigeon.

This is our winter guest Redwing, a Thrush family bird from Iceland. More pictures in my blogpost here.

Greenfinch is also a rare guest.

Goldfinches are abundant around the Cherrymount foot bridge. When they are busy, you can come up quite close.

That is it for today. We continue our walk in two weeks. More bird sighting as you move closer to the source.

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/04/06/st-johns-river-confluence/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/04/20/st-johns-river-sneaking-through-town/

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

St. John’s River: Sneaking through town

After crossing the Hardy’s bridge we resume our walk. A few words about the Friends of St. John’s River. They are an enthusiastic community voluntary group founded in March 2014 with the mission to ‘return St. John’s River to its former glory’. Our walks along the river are pleasant thanks to them.

In the Integrated Water Quality Report 2011, St. John’s River was mentioned as the only “seriously polluted’ river in the whole county. And seriously polluted it was. It is obvious that the river has very little friends… Hope this will change thanks to the great example of the volunteers and support from the City. On my memory, St. John’s river has never looked as good as it looks now, but there is so much more to do, and first of all, people have to change their mentality, behaviour and habits.

We are approaching the Waterside. The bridge in the picture replaced the old Gasworks bridge. I don’t like the replacement because it is flat and has no character. The old bridge was a curved cast iron beauty built in the beginning of the 20th century. I also don’t like that the wall has been stripped of vegetation which was a habitat for many creatures.

The other Gasworks foot bridge built in 1870 has been beautifully restored and reinstalled.

The Gasworks were established in the 1820’s. A hundred years later, during the Irish Civil War, something extraordinary happened. I want to share this piece of history, because it seems important to me.


‘A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of Communism.’ Inspired by the example of the Russian proletariat, the Gasworks’ workers established a Soviet that lasted 6 weeks! More about the Soviets in Ireland in this article. When I came across the article, it brought back my Granddad’s stories. Both my maternal grandfather and paternal great grandfather were murdered by communists. The families had to hide; the names were changed; none of my parents spoke their mother tongues; generations were affected. But it is not only because of my family history I despise this ideology.

We will destroy this world of violence

Down to the foundations, and then

We will build our new world

He who was nothing will become everything.

Unfortunately, ‘destroying to the foundations’ was the only part of the plan that went ‘well’. Cultural vandalism that started in Russia, reached Ireland. More than 70 Big Houses were burned, many of them of historical importance. The blowing up of the Public Records office destroyed countless pages documenting Irish History. One cannot become ‘everything’ by violence, destruction and ignorance.

History repeats itself when people refuse to learn from it and admit their mistakes.ย 


We have reached the end of the Waterside. In the image below you see the oldest Waterford bridge – John’s Bridge that was originally built in the 1650’s and widened in 1765. On this side of the bridge both arches are round, but on the other side one arch is pointed.

When the water level is low, you might see unusual visitors, like this Common redshank, foraging in the mud.

St. John’s river is a home to a family of resident swans.

Swans under the pointed arch of John’s bridge.

Swans floating along the Railway Square. You can see a shopping trolley in the water.

The river flows under the Johnstown bridge, and we start a somewhat boring walk around Tesco car park – from Miller’s Marsh to Poleberry.

This is the most uneventful stretch of the river walk. Only once I have seen the ducks and swans, and the bird songs are scarce here.

Still, we can come across a mouse on the pavement ( this is the most littered part of the river walk). I spent at least half an hour watching this cute little fella who seems to be a House mouse living outdoors. He is just a little bigger than a bottle cap.

Tesco is the source of all the shopping trolleys littering the water. Friends of St. John’s River do regular clean ups in and around the river, but it is not a solution. Change in people’s attitude would be a solution.

We walk over the Wyse bridge – another flat bridge that replaced the old humpback bridge in 1980. The river makes its last bend at Poleberry before straightening. There is a group of old trees and shrubbery, a home to some birds. The trees don’t look presentable and I am afraid that some day they will be cut down. Hope not.

This cat didn’t look like hunting. He just sat there.

Crow family is well represented in this part of the river. It is still in the city boundaries, and only a handful of bird species visit this area.

Yet one day I was lucky to capture this cute Bullfinch couple feeding on nettle and butterfly bush seeds.

You will continue the walk towards the source in two weeks. I won’t be there in person, but I am sure you won’t get lost ๐Ÿ™‚

St. John’s river post #1

www.inesemjphotography.com

Happy Easter! May your mind be happy, and your heart humble โค

St. John’s River: Confluence

This and the following four posts are dedicated to the Friends of St. John’s River.


Waterford is situated along the beautiful River Suir – the river one cannot miss. Many visitors, however, might never realise that there is another river sneaking behind the Waterford Crystal House – St. John’s River, which, according to her Friends, represents the heart of the city. About a mile from the Rice bridge River Suir curves to the SE direction. Right before the curve is where two rivers meet.

Until the 18th century, St. John’s River didn’t have banks – there was a marshland and a pool of water that filled up at high tide and almost emptied at low tide. The pool was drained, the city expanded, and St. John’s River was contained within the banks reinforced with stone all the way to the River Suir. Here is some more history.

We know where the mouth of St. John’s River is, but where is the source? I don’t know it, but we will walk as far as we can and try to find it out.

Meanwhile, lets stay at the mouth of the river a little longer and enjoy the wildlife.

This heron at Marina hotel is wise enough to understand that photographers cannot fly over the fencing.

This gull is probably an adult non-breeding Herring gull.

These two look like young Great black-backed gulls. My knowledge of the juvenile gull classification is almost nonexistent.

One ‘teenager’ annoying the other ๐Ÿ™‚

The cutest group of Black-headed gulls in their winter plumage. I have no idea what is that ‘stranger’ they have adopted.

The last look at the River Suir from the Scotch Quay before we are off to follow St. John’s River through the city.

We walk to the Georges Quay. The unnamed metal pedestrian bridge connects to the Adelphi Quay.

Gigantic red buoy in the Georges Quay is a lovely bright detail among the grey surroundings.

Pigeons are heading to the William Street Bridge. So are we.

We cross to the other side of St. John’s River. William Street bridge was built between 1780-1820. It is a single arch humpback bridge.

Pigeons are foraging on the walls.

We pass the car park and enter City Courthouse grounds. Courthouse was built to the design of Terence O’Reilly on the site of the ruins of St Catherine’s Abbey in 1841. Many of the dead from the 1604 outbreak of plague were buried in these grounds. Courthouse was recently refurbished and extended. In 2016, after the epic All-Ireland hurling semi-final, Kilkenny flag was put out at the top of the Courthouse .You might remember my blog post where I mentioned the long lasting rivalry between our two counties divided by River Suir.

I am mostly interested in starlings residing in the grounds.

Charming lattice work iron bridge over St. John’s River connect Courthouse grounds with People’s Park. The bridge was opened in 1857 by then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland William Frederick Howard, 7th Earl of Carlisle, and named Carlisle Bridge for him.

In the “waste and weary swamp covered with dank and fetid water“, People’s Park was laid out in 1857, after the marshland was drained and St. John’s River diverted and contained in the banks. The “Orb” in the picture is a sculpture incorporating water continuously flowing over it. The sculpture was created by Tina O’Connell, and installed in 2002 in the place of a beautiful Victorian fountain which was vandalized beyond repair.

Look back at the Courthouse ( I just love this bridge).

Blackheaded gulls on the Carlisle bridge.

One more look back.

This is the end of today’s walk. We leave People’s Park and walk into town again. Hardy’s Bridge below was built in 1841/1842, and commemorates the captain of Admiral Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769-1839).

We resume our walk along the St. John’s River in two weeks. Thank you for joining the tour.

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Midspring

At the spring equinox this year the sky was adorned by the full Moon – the Super Worm Moon. It was so bright that I wondered if the earth worms could actually see the light and wriggle to the surface to gaze up into the sky. This little Wren would love it ๐Ÿ˜‰

If a wren is building a nest it means that the spring is in a full swing. Indeed, according to the ancient Celtic tradition, spring starts at the beginning of February, and by now, spring is half over. Here I share some pictures of what I have been up to for the first weeks of spring.

I went to the Mount Congreve Gardens to take part in the Walk For Life event hosted by Waterford Sports Partnership. The walk was well organized, and we also had a cup of tea afterwards. I joined at the table a small group of quiet ladies. There were many young and old people with disabilities, so I immediately realized what that quietness was about. I sat down and kept smiling. There was little I could do.ย  All of a sudden one of the ladies reached for jam and butter, passed them to me without making any eye contact, and sat still again. My eyes brimmed with tears and my heart flooded with compassion. A skill to serve others lingers on even when many other skills have faded.

The walk was very exciting. The first thing we saw was a red squirrel. Walnut trees in the garden attract squirrels, and this one probably had a stash made last autumn.

The squirrel climbed magnolia tree, and jumped when I pressed the shutter.

Hundreds of magnolia trees were in bloom with gorgeous flowers of different colors, sizes and shapes.

This ‘rope’ is wisteria.

Many other trees began to flower, including rhododendrons.

Hundreds, or may be thousands of different camellias with their evergreen dark and glossy leaves were abundantly covered with the most exquisite flowers.

I went to the gardens once more, and walked there alone for five hours taking pictures of birds and flowers. Storm Gareth that came through a week later must have ruined all the beauty.

Another event I went to was the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. There was no Patrick though, which was confusing and somewhat disappointing.

The parade was led by Grand Marshalls Des and Mona Manahan riding in the back of a vintage car.

A few brass and pipe bands marched, and they did a great job as always.

Our Marines, as well as River Rescue volunteers and firefighters are the most loved and respected heroes.

I also looked forward to seeing the bikers roll through town again. That young girl riding the bike with her father every year is so grown up and beautiful. Time flies, yet the ginger beard and the hat have never changed ๐Ÿ™‚

They said that this particular parade would celebrate ‘color, culture and community’. Well, I didn’t notice any difference from the previous parades, except for the absence of St. Patrick, and presence of some characters that hardly belonged to this day at all ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, there were different schools, clubs, societies, commercial and community groups presented, and it was great to see familiar faces.

Ukrainian community is one of my favorites. I love the colors of their flag. There were many flags in the parade, including an Anarchist black&red…

Spraoi band didn’t come alone. They brought a bug with them ๐Ÿ™‚

John Hayes, the artist who has carved the Dragon Slayer sword, brought a beautiful carved dragon.

There are always vintage cars driving in the parade.

Now, things are getting a little tricky. There were several zombies in the parade, some very cute, but I had my doubts about posting their pictures, so I went through the pictures posted by the official photographer and found out that he also had his doubts ๐Ÿ˜‰ So, this is the only zombie I dare to expose ๐Ÿ™‚

Disney characters and Mary Poppins closed the parade. They are all charming, but I would rather prefer a Leprechaun…

Thank you for visiting Waterford with me!

www.inesemjphotography Have a beautiful spring!

Viking Heritage Day at Woodstown

This “fierce viking face” is here for reference only. No photographer was harmed in the making of this picture.

In fact, the day in Woodstown was very pleasant and fun.


Waterford city was established by Vikings in 914, but a separate party of Norsemen settled 9 km upstream and built a longphoirt – Irish word for a ship harbour –ย  in the middle of the 9th century. During the testing related to the construction of the N 25 bypass in 2003, two lead weights were discovered which was the beginning of archaeological excavations at Woodstown that uncovered an early Viking settlement on the bank of River Suir. The bypass was amended and re-routed following the discovery. Woodstown Viking settlement was declared a national monument.

You can admire the archaeological discoveries from the dig on display in the Reginald Tower in Waterford city.

Take these steps to the second floor that is dedicated to the Woodstown Viking settlement finds.

Among many other finds, over 200 weights were found in Woodstown, which indicates that it was a trade centre where merchants and craftsmen could trade for goods or slaves. They used coins too, but by their weight in silver rather than their denomination. There were many centres like this established by Vikings. Some of them made new cities – Dublin, York, Novgorod. Woodstown Viking settlement didn’t continue into a bigger city and lasted not more than 100 years.

When I arrived in Woodstown, I met James Eogan, Senior archaeologist at Transport Infrastructure Ireland, executive editor of the book Woodstown: A Viking Age Settlement in County Waterford. I joined his guided walk which was a great success.

Mr. Eogan took us to the site – or rather to the part of the Greenway where the site is situated behind the fencing. The site has only been partially excavated (5%), but digging will continue if funded. From archaeological evidence it is clear that Woodstown settlement was a Viking trading centre and a home to craftsmen and their families, but its location was not practical for Viking needs. We learned about the site map, defense trenches, discovery of the stand alone burial site, and many more interesting facts and theories about this unique place.

The site is not accessible to the public yet, but hopefully some information boards will be installed along the Greenway.

The Woodstown book has a fantastic free audio guide that can be found on this page or, hopefully, accessed through this embedded link:

Today I am sharing some Viking pictures of our own very talented Vikings from Dรฉise Medieval and their friends from other countries. From my previous Vikingย  post you already know about the Vikings and their legacy. Let’s see them in action ๐Ÿ™‚

I was fascinated with the work of this beautiful weaver. We used to make a very simplified form of bookmark in Primary, and I still remember the joy ๐Ÿ™‚

A charming Viking lady has a terracotta horseman that catches my eye.

A Byzantine physician (my guess) is offering potions and spices.

Another fascinating stand – Viking cutlery and all sorts of knives (The Catfire Forge)

Endless choice of pendants and a beautiful merchant – alone and deep in thoughts.

This lovely lady has a collection of Viking weaponry for sale.

She explains the great qualities of the battleaxe to her customer, and even shows where to aim ๐Ÿ™‚ The other Vikings are hanging around, just in case. Safety first.

Day to day life in a Viking camp looks relaxing and wholesome.

And this is no doubt my favorite picture ๐Ÿ™‚

Speaking about love. John of Wallingford, a Benedictine monk, complained about the Vikings and their ways to lure the local ladies from the straight and narrow. It came out that the invaders were a big hit with the local women because ‘they combed their hair every day, bathed every Saturday and had many frivolous devices about their person’.

Walking around the camp I take a few candid pictures of the Viking warriors. There is a battle between two Viking clans scheduled today.

Let’s the fight begin.

I am rooting for the redhead Viking lady.

No luck this time.

“Call upon the dead to rise! ”

And another fight begins. Then another.

The winners cannot hide their excitement.

Finally the war is over.

Thank you for reading about Irish history and camping with Vikings. Check your DNA – you might be surprised.

Have a wonderful weekend!