There is a place which sets the typewriter in my mind clicking like ticker tape. That place is in the Valley of the Suir.
The hills there roll and fall like smooth waves on a sea of green grass and myrtle and pine coloured forests. There is an order to them. Like all things here, they face the river. They face it gracefully, and shoulder it gently on its patient and meandering journey to the sea.
When I see the river from the top of the forested hills in the rain, I think of all the things which follow the river. The water for one. the relief for another. The roads and the train tracks and bridges weave about it like Virginia Creeper on a great tree.
It flows along a great length from the heart of the country near Templemore, southwards through Thurles, where the rules of hurling and football were written down. It bubbles down through Cahir over the big weir and under the walls of Cahir castle. She continues southeastwards until she is met by the Knockmealdown Mountains and she is reflected northwards towards Clonmel. From there, she skirts along the edge of the Comeragh mountains. They loom over Clonmel and the river. Barring a short southward run to the sea.
She heads to the east Through Kilshealan, and Carrick-on-Suir. Swelling now to a rolling silty body of water that rumbles beneath stone arch-bridges and props tree trunks up against them. It’s in Carrick that the first echos of the sea are observable. The tide is pushing in far downstream, and it causes the river to slow for a while at certain times of the day.
Her run to Waterford city is most spectacular of all. Flat calm she widens right out and slows right down. Her banks become muddy and then fields of reeds grow on them. Gently sloping, pine forested hills guide her, and the beautiful gardens of Mt. Congreve are watered by her. The valley becomes a huge half tube on which the canvas of grass and fields is stretched tightly. She is crossed by bridges only twice downstream in nearly thirty miles.
The city of Waterford faces her proudly as the source of the city’s life. The railway tracks which have followed her from Cahir, terminate here at Plunket Station. Here, the closeness of the sea is clear to sea for half of every day. The water flows in reverse.
But She continues on in search of the sea. At Cheekpoint she is warmly welcomed by her sisters, the Barrow and the Nore. Two great rivers themselves with their own vallies of peculiar character. It is only after meeting them, does she finally find the opening she has been looking for. At Dunmore-East – A fishing village with fancy holiday homes, a great chipper, Dublin accents in the summer and old naval guns – the sea and the river meet for the first time. Fresh and salt water mingle. The flow obeys the tide. The river becomes the sea.