Tales from the River Bank

My tale of the Ahare river in North Co Wexford started as a child when I first connected with the
river while on farmhouse holidays in Castletown. The river ran past the farm and as children we
loved to explore the dell which ran down to the river and had many fun filled adventures.
I have memories as a child of seeing the farmer’s wife washing sheep’s wool on the gravelly bank of
the river. I also have fond memories of the scouting groups that every summer would camp on the
banks of the river. There were days of rope bridges over the river and where many games and water
fights took place. There were many nights of campfires and sing songs and washing the pots and
pans by lamplight by the river.
Across the other side of Castletown bridge was old Davy Hanlon’s farm. Davy’s farm was once the
local mill where corn was ground. A water race fed the water wheel that powered the mill and many
elderly locals mention that they remember their fathers bringing grain to be ground in the mill.
On Summer evenings the anglers fish along the banks of the Ahare with tales exchanged of “The One
that got away”. There have been stories of those who encountered nets across the river and also of
those who came to the aid of the migrating fish, cutting the nets away “ To give the fish a chance”.
Running through the flood plain, the river is Majestic and powerful when in full flood. Storms, High
Tides and heavy rain can combine to cause the river to flood it’s banks, the land becoming lakes in a
matter of hours with sightings of regal swans upon it.
A Local farmer tells me that the two fields that run either side of the river are the most fertile and
the best land on his farm. He attributes this fertility to the nutrients deposited on his fields when the
river floods it’s banks.
My journey with the River has also brought great joys as it shared its many treasures with eyes that
wished to see. The little White Egrets and Herons who fish and wade along your banks. Malllards
who preened and in the water with heads down seemed to say “ Bottoms up Lads”.
The blue flash of the Kingfisher and the knocking of the woodpecker along the river bank. The plop
and splash of the otter at dusk a rare and special sight and scurrying shy Moorhens busy about their
wetland business.
Jumping fish and busy pond skaters and animals tracks along your banks tell of river visitors.
Two Cormorants with wings outstretched perched high atop two dead trees like Roman Eagles
“Sentinels of the River”
Sitting on the Ahare bridge in the early morning while the world awakens and the earthy smells
arising from your river bank bring scents of earth, wild garlic and more
. The wild flowers along your river bank, the frilly light pink headed Bog Cotton, Wild Garlic and the
Sunny faces of the lesser Celandine that festoon your river banks. Birdsong so sweet and clear
resounding through the morning there is no better start to the day.
Now I talk to young and old and tell them of your glories and ask of them on your behalf,
“ Will you be my River friend ?”