The poet Edmond Spenser in his Faerie Queen described the river as the 'fishfull Shure' and while fishermen would have their own ideas on that,what with the decline in Eel numbers,Trout and Salmon - it was heartening for me to hear the occasional plop of a salmon jumping, and saw the lofty head of one that could well have been an eight to twelve pounder.
Much in evidence near the MSD Fishery were the 'black divers' - to use the description given to me by Pat Drohan,noted Cot builder and model maker - the Cormorant.From the solitary one I had seen near Clonmel now I was seeing groups of from three to ten,the latter just upstream of Carrick.
Fishermen of the Suir do not like the bird,that's my experience for what it's worth.
The Dipper,An Gabha Dubh,I saw a number of times on my ramble,standing on a rock in the fast flow,feeding as it walked through the shallows,diving underwater for tasty morsels.
The Pygmy Shrew ,Ireland's only native shrew and smallest mammal is very much at home at the Rock. The entrance to the shrews 'den' can be found by the observant in many places on the tracks or by the side of the tracks,as in image on the top left.You may also find pretty regularly the body of a shrew on a track,the result of someone standing on him inadvertently, or being snuffed out by a dog & dying of fright .The middle image shows the Irish Pygmy Shrew in all his/her glory,courtesy of Birdwatch Ireland.
The shrew on the right is the relatively new arrival & invader : the Ivory-toothed Shrew - more about the latter later.
Pygmy Shrew - Luch Fheir - Sorex Minutus cf Ireland's Mammals,Mac Coitir 2010
Although the shrew is often mistaken for a mouse,it is not a rodent but a member of the insectivora or insect eaters,and is in fact more closely related to the hedgehog.
Noted for its energetic pursuit of prey,and its high-pitched squeaking as it hurries along.Perhaps for this reason it was widely held in Ireland to be a relative of the Stoat(which it also is not).
Read Mac Coitir for more on lore and superstition,page 168.
The image is not the way things look along the Towpath from Clonmel to Carrick-on -Suir but the track could well look like this once work commences to install a Cycle Track along the former towpath.
Rose early yesterday and had left the house after eight.The morn was overcast but mild as hell as I ambled along the former quayside,heading east towards Carrick.I was solo but met with some people walking their dogs,exchanged pleasantries and after Mulcahy Park had the route to myself to just above Kilsheelin.
The sounds accompanying were of a gale like south-westerly that required a high collar to avoid a stiff neck-stiffer than usual anyway!There was lapping of water agitated by the wind,the plop of Salmon jumping,the squawk of disturbed Herons ,the flapping of Mallard wings.The Dipper was much in evidence especially at the breakwaters - an Gabha Dubh go deo! - A solitary Otter emerged from the flow to disappear and re-appear at intervals as it fished the living stream.Took the time to take some photos but have to master the transfer from android to Mac to show you the result.Never mind the images but dare I say,take to your feet now and walk as I walked and be amazed.Use all your senses and be grateful for them and see the Boatmen of old toiling with their horses,in your minds eye as you make your way.The trek took about five hours with time out as indicated above with a sit-down for a mandarin thrown in.....to be continued
As from Tuesday I expect a work party of up to seven people on site continuing the work of moving stones inside the wall above to a stacking area where at the weekend,hopefully they can be removed to Marlfield village church and graveyard,to be re-used to rebuild walls and surrounds there.
The work involved is pretty heavy work of lifting,placing carefully in wheelbarrows and barrowing along rooted wood tracks to a stacking point.
All the lads involved are used to hard manual work,some volunteers while others are part of a back to work scheme.
.......not really,just a warning to be aware of moving stock on tracks by the boundary walls over the next few weeks.
Barrow loads of stones will be gathered inside the walls,the same stones that once formed part of the high walls enclosing what was the Bagwell Estate at the Rock and reduced in height when we undertook the repair and rebuild of the walls over a year ago.
The stones will be stacked near the east gate and will be used to repair walls at Marlfield Churchyard.
I tend from time to time to cite a book and have been known to indicate where that book might be purchased at a decent price locally.
I even mention the bookseller!
Oliver manages a remaindered bookshop on the narrow street,Mitchell Street.
He has for sale in the window at the moment what I consider a marvelous book of local and no doubt,wider interest:- Michael Fewer's,Rambling down the Suir - for the tidy sum of nine euros.
Published in 2009 by Ashfield Press the book is I believe a necessary companion to anyone with an interest in the river along it's length from Devil's Bit,near the source/pot to it's outpouring into the sea beyond the Hook and Crook below Passage.
Full of history,lore,anecdote and colour photographs of superb quality,opinion and with a decent Select Bibliography no home should be without it before Christmas!Purchase while stocks last.
The Bagwells and Marlfield House are introduced in some detail, as is Clonmel and every town and village in the three counties Kilkenny,Tipperary and Waterford.
The good news is the Towpath is open for walking along it's length from Clonmel to Carrick and vice-versa.
If you want to stretch it why not continue on to Knocklofty from Clonmel via Denis Burke Park,Old Bridge,Green Lane,the Green to Greenane by the river and on to Knocklofty Bridge;cross the bridge,take the first right to Rock,Marlfield - choose your walk and then walk the river by Marlfield House and on to the village and finally to Clonmel!
What a challenge!Do be careful especially on the short road stretches - enjoy.
author artist activist