As the old former creamery wall crumbled on Friday morning last Clonmel's Acropolis emerged centre stage on Suir Island yet again.The mountain of rubble of the former Avonmore and other buildings has lain on site for well over a decade now as work commences on laying footpaths from Old Bridge to Stretches Island.
Down the years many reports have been commissioned by the local authority on Suir Island, the CAAS Report in the early years to the more recent one, see below. In fact little or nothing has come of these reports to date so it will be a relief when details of this latest report comes into the public domain.Blackwood and Assoc.Conservation Architects were,I understand retained to execute the report sometime prior to 2014.
Suircan,a voluntary community association has taken an active interest in Suir Island for many years and worked with the former Borough Council ,responding to the Masterplan arrived at by a consultant- this prior to the Blackwood one.
The WBC- Workmens'Boat Club also commissioned and paid for a computer model of the islands that make up the Suir Islands and offered same to the then Borough Council......
Now that the Council owns the islands in great part it's time to see what plans for the development of the islands are in place or are emerging.The public has a right to input to these deliberations individually or through Suircan,the WBC or other voluntary bodies.The last thing we need is piecemeal development....
Above an old slabbed, stream outlet was uncovered in the past few days to reveal the workmanship of a former time and age.Quite a few such have emerged over the course of the transforming of the former towpath to a walking and cycling route.If form is repeated this will be slabbed in concrete followed by tarmacadam on top.
I'm pretty sure this stream has a name in Irish as well as in English but I doubt the mapping of such 'trivial' matters in the haste to finish the job.No archaeologist has preceded the tracking of the men and machines on this project no ecologist either as far as I know.All is not lost however as Fred Hamill,Industrial Archaeologist,and others have reported some years back,in a detailed way on the structures, plant and animal life along these banks.Others again like William's in his 'Men,Tides and Salmon' has drawn attention to the richness of the place names in Irish,still surviving today in the talk of fishermen and cots' men.I hope a 'map' of these features will form part of the information available to the general public...
The photo, top left shows the longest stretch of bank strengthening to date using baskets of stone enmeshed in wire.
Will these be 'greened' as work proceeds - let's hope so.
A walk on the wild side it certainly is and any number of people are already walking the tracks, solo,in company and/or with dogs.
This site,Willow Island is a work site at present and is awaiting making good by the Council and Contractor,which will take some time.The good news is that when the Council,working with local community groups completes this work the island will be walkable on old pathways that both follow the line of the gurgling river and the last open tail race/canal that runs through the island from the head race above Lady Blessingto's Weir,on the town side of the old Miller's House and exits just above Burke Park.
The slideshow gives a flavour of the terrain which displays some beautiful trees, such as the old Holm Oak which stands at the northwest corner of the once garden fronting the house.
Yew trees stand sentinel nearby as do Beech and by the house a majestic, specimen Lime.
Tracks wend their way from the gateway, curving around the house and opening to what well may have been a carriageway wide enough for pony and cart.The fine stone wall provided a boundary with the river and the surging torrent below, more noticeable now as a result of the building of the Slalom course, which has rejuvenated the river at this point allowing the roar of the flow to carry almost to Dennis Burke Park.You would not know you were in the heart
of a throbbing town surrounded as you are by magical sounds of the flow and the greenery.
I have written Toberaheena as I always heard it pronounced since childhood.I understood the name to mean ' water from the well as sweet as wine',a place we hallowed on regular visits to catch brickeens and paddle the water until the cold would compel us to jump out and jump up and down to restore circulation
because of the coldness of the well water.How refreshing it was for all that.
How refreshing for both body and spirit the restoring of the area around the well thanks to the work of C-Saw.The site is still a work in progress and a credit to all involved in it's re-creation.
I have included a visit on my regular jaunts and rambles,either on my outgoing or on my return.If on my return I enter by the upper entrance and slowly meander the tracks taking in the quiet,the birdsong,the breeze blowing through the branches of the willow and ash till I come to the stone seat where I pause and reflect and remember - remember colleagues,former students of mine,fellow members of the Club,and I celebrate their lives be they long or short - Amen,Alleluia.
To Brendan and his team you have done us all a service.
author artist activist