As my regulars now know, I launched my first book last Friday 20th October. Called Before the Tide Went Out it tells my own story from my earliest memories into my childhood recollections of the village of Cheekpoint and the fisherfolk that made up my world. I bring you fishing in my teens and early adult years and share the magic and misery as I went from salmon driftnetting to eel fishing and herring driftnetting. As tough as I thought the life was, it was nothing compared to writing it all down, and that in turn was painless compared to getting it ready for publication. But of course in the run up to actually launching it, we had the most powerful storm to ever hit the country followed up by our first winter storm. Ophelia and Brian nearly up-scuppered the lot.
|Damien McLellan, myself and Tomás Sullivan, who both were crucial in the project|
Photo via Eoin Nevins
By 12 noon the trees were bending over dramatically and the river was as wild and frenzied as I can ever recall...and then it just got worse. Yet we escaped the worst of the damage as roofs blew off, tress came down and electricity and telephones went dead. The government were vindicated in their advice of shutting all schools, restricting transport and advising workplaces to close early...that of course also included my printer, Lettertec in Cork.
On the Tuesday, the clean up started and the extent of the damage was realised. Schools remained closed and many businesses were unable to re-open, being cut off by trees or starved of the essentials such as water or power to run, Lettertec being one of them! We received an email from my namesake Andrew Haworth telling us he would be in contact as soon as he knew anything.
By Wednesday we were panicking. Cheking the ESB faults map gave no reassurance. It estimated it could be Saturday 21st before the power was restored to the printers. Family friends in the Cork area were without power too...life was tough. We tried ringing but to no avail, a follow up email went unanswered. Should we cancel? Two days to go, how long does it take to print 500 books? How likely is it that the power will be restored. Wednesday night an email arrived at 8pm. Power was restored at the factory, a personal guarantee that the books would be done and ready for collection on the following afternoon, Thursday 19th.
|My daughter#1 holding the first copy|
Liam Hartley at Jack Meades had offered the use of the pub free of charge as a way of saying thanks for the many blogs I had written previously highlighting the heritage value of the place. Dylan Bible and Amanda Farady had offered their services freely too. So we had a venue and entertainment. Damien Tiernan of RTE had agreed to make the keynote, a man who knows a lot about the water and the communities that depend on it. We had our posters out, it was covered in that weeks Munster Express thanks to journalist Kieran Foley and Fintan Walsh. Jean and Paul at Waterford in your Pocket added it to the weekends event guide. And the reaction of facebook and twitter was amazing. It seemed nothing could stop us now.
At about 7pm what felt like the final nail in my coffin, was a text from Damien Tiernan. A flood was expected in Clonmel and Damien was going live to report for the 9 o'Clock RTE News. He had to cancel, sorry about that etc. He had warned me it was possible before he ever took it on. Deep down I was gutted, but I had to be fair, he has a job to do. So I dug deep and sent him an understanding text. Seconds later he replied with a "got ya!" I could have killed him, but was too relieved.
|Me with Michael Farrell Barony of Gaultier Historical Society wishing me well|
|Tommy Sullivan MC on the night|
|A very dapper Damien Tiernan entertains the crowd|
Damien brought the house down with his talk. It was everything I had imagined it would be. He spoke of our traditions, the characters, the nicknames, the inter-village rivalry and the desolation that not being able to fish creates. But he also spoke of the importance of working together, of digging deep, and of trying to rise above the naysayers, individuals who go out of their way to undermine and destroy those who try their best to achieve something positive.
|my God Mother, Elsie, my cousin Michael 'Spud' Murphy and my Mother Mary|
I'm not sure if Ophelia or Brian were sent to test my resolve or just to underline the struggles I had to overcome in being a young fisherman. Nature is something I admire, respect and am humbled by. But fishermen can't allow weather to dictate their lives. Except maybe a hurricane!
I publish a blog each Friday. If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the blog every week.
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