13 April 2012

Easter hope, old friends, new life and the setting sun

Sunset behind Courtown Harbour, Co Wexford, this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012) 3241

Patrick Comerford

I was back at my desk for a few hours this morning. Despite the weather forecast warnings of rain, bright sunshine was streaming into my room, and at lunchtime I headed south to Wexford to meet some friends in the Library.

In the 1990s, I had collected and accumulated a number of books and pamphlets about the 1798 Rising. They were useful reading at the time as I prepared papers and lectures on the contribution of members of the Church of Ireland to the events of the time. But they have been in my attic for so long, unopened for almost a decade and a half, I thought they would find better homes on library shelves.

The conversation in Wexford Town Library, off Redmond Square, included health, life, literacy, families and old age, the fortunes of local historians and local history societies, old friends like Nicky Furlong and Monsignor Patrick Corish, modern architecture and the works of Pugin, Pierce and McCarthy, and the patronage of the Talbot and Redmond family that helped the blossoming of the Gothic Revival in Co Wexford in the 1830s and 1840s ... and Easter and the hope for new life.

Walking along North Main Street in Wexford this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Outside I bumped into Liam Gaul, who is enthusiastic about his plans for a lecture in Saint Michael’s Hall next week on the songwriter PJ McCaul.

It was after 4 before we slipped into La Dolce Vita below Selskar Abbey in Selskar Square for a late lunch. Outside, there is a new statue by Mark Richards to the Wexford hurling great, Nickey Rackard (1922-1976), which was unveiled late last month by the Mayor of Wexford, Davy Hynes.

Nicky Rackard led the revolution of hurling in Co Wexford in the 1950s along with his brothers Bobby and Billy, taking the county to two All-Irelands in 1955 and 1956.

The new statue of Nickey Rackard by Mark Richards in Selskar Square, unveiled last month (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Further up the Main Street, we dropped into Saint Iberius Church, where Máire Flavin, mezzo soprano, and Simon Lepper, piano were rehearsing for tonight’s concert as part of the Music for Wexford 2012 programme. The programme includes works and compositions by Henri Duparc, Hector Berlioz, Clara Schumann and Robert Schumann, with some of the works by Berlioz translated by Máire Flavin herself.

English Red Rose and Irish Green Shamrock intertwined in stucco work in Mary Street, Wexford ... 19th century arts-and-crafts radicalism in domestic architecture (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

We strolled back up through Allen Street, Saint Patrick Street, High Street, Mary Street, and School Street, into the Friary grounds, and then across to Rowe Street Church, where there was a warm welcome. However, every effort to locate the 17th century “Comerford Chalice” in the hope of photographing it failed. But then it’s another excuse for another return visit to Wexford soon – as if I need an excuse.

The conversation continued – about the Minton tiles, the East Window, Pugin’s churches in Barntown and Tagoat, the hymns of Henry Francis Lyte, the clergy of the Diocese of Ferns, prayers on Good Friday and celebrating Easter Day,

The Great East Window in Rowe Street Church, Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

It was still a bright evening as we were leaving Wexford long after 6.30. As we drove from Ferrycarrig through Oylegate and Edermine along the east bank of the River Slaney, towards Enniscorthy, with pink and purple clouds to the over Killurin and Bree to the West, we realised there was a beautiful opportunity for a walk on the beach. The only question was whether we should we turn off for Curracloe, Kilmuckridge or Courtown.

Eventually at Gorey we turned east to Courtown. The village was busy with weekenders, down at their mobile homes and caravans before their children go back to school next week. The tide was in, covering the sand and lapping against the rocks, and a walk on the beach was out of question. But as we walked on towards the harbour the setting sun burst through the clouds and cast a golden shimmer on the water and the sheltering boats. One boat was called Galilean Shore.

That Easter glow continued in the western skies as we drove on up through Co Wicklow. It was dark by the time we got to Dublin.

The tide covers the sand and the shoreline in Courtown, Co Wexford, this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)


Anonymous said...

Good evening Patrick,
I was delighted to have met you in Wexford on Friday last. I have read your page with great interest and enjoyed the photographs. by the way, the photograph of the crown and shamrock over the door way is the house of a very fine italian trained singer of years past named John Kirwin. John was a much sought after singer and starred in several productions by Wexford Light Opera Society. Seemingly, a highlight of his singing was his rendition of 'O Holy Night'at Midnight Mass in Rowe Street Church at Christmas tide. Patrick, once again delighted to have had the chat and thanks for the mention in your blogg. Liam G

Anonymous said...

Patrick, a small correction - of course it's the rose and shamrock in the crest over the door of John Kirwin's house in Mary Street. L.G.