Windy Wednesday: Some Windfarms

Below I have picked out four wind farms and listed their specifications. I have also added my own notes as to why they are of interest in the case of the wind farms planned for the Copper Coast, three of which I have listed below for comparison

Energia’s North Celtic Sea Project (5-10km offshore) proposes a 600-800MW(approx.600,000 homes) wind farm and suggests that between 40-60 turbines are the usual amount (many factors will determine that, geography, turbine type and height, distance from shore. For example the London Array at 600MW has 175 turbines).

ESB/Equinors’ Celtic Offshore Wind proposal (10km offshore) is also for 600MW (approx. 600,000 homes) and has no mention of the amount of turbines.

SSE Renewables floating wind farm The Celtic Sea Array(25km offshore) proposes an 800MW wind farm with no turbine estimate.

Beatrice

Beatrice. Irish Independent June 2020.

Beatrice Up to 2007, wind farms were only built in depths of 20 metres and less. Then came the experimental two turbine Beatrice wind farm off the east coast of Scotland (25km from shore and at a 40 metre depth). Beatrice has since been expanded closer to shore. What’s interesting to note is that Beatrice powers homes in southern Scotland via a 160km long subsea cable and underground cables to Blackhillock Substation in Northern Aberdeenshire via underground cables. This required the construction of two new converter stations, one at Blackhillock, which, at the size of 24 football pitches, is now the largest substation in the UK.

Of added interest re:the length of this cable to us on the Copper Coast is that the governments of the UK, Northern Ireland and Ireland commissioned a study about a decade ago which concluded that the development of an offshore interconnected grid would provide the UK with an increase of imports in the form of renewable generation from the Irish market and improve the interconnector capacity between both markets (Aoife Foley, Paraic Higgins, The evolution of offshore wind power in the United Kingdom, 2013). Could the power generated on the Copper Coast be used in the UK?

Distance from Shore: 13km

Area:131 square km

Water Depth: 56 metres.

Number of Turbines: 84

Turbine Height:188 metres (maximum pile depth to the highest point of the blade sweep up to 288)​

Turbine Type: Siemens Gamesa 7MW

Foundation: Jacket (with the jacket substructures up to 81m tall).

Operator: SSE on behalf of a joint venture partnership.

Electricity Generation: 400, 000 homes.

The London Array

London Array wind farm as viewed from the air in February 2019 Source:Bodgesoc

Once the biggest offshore wind farm in the world, the London Array is 20km off the Kent coast. Maintained and operated from the port of Ramsgate. Turbines are between 650 and 1200 metres apart. The blades have a swept area of one and a half times the size of Wembley Stadium’s football pitch. The turbines are designed to run for more than 20 years. That means basically that after two decades or so many wind farms will be decommissioned. Like our Metal Man and his pillars. Only eleven times taller. And more numerous.

Distance from Shore: 20km

Number of Turbines: 175

Turbine Height to tip of blade:147 metre

Turbine Type: Siemens 3.6MW

Water Depth: 25 metres

Foundation: Monopile (i.e. basically an extension of the turbine underwater)

Area: 100 square km

Operator: RWE, Orsted, Masdar & La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ)

Electricity Generation: 500, 000 homes.

Hornsea 1 Image Credit: Volodimir Zozulinskyi/Shutterstock.com

Hornsea 1

Located off the Yorkshire coast, Hornsea One spans a huge area over five times the size of the city of Hull. The offshore wind farm uses 7 MW wind turbines, with each one 190 metres tall – larger than the Humber Bridge concrete towers.

Distance from Shore: 120km

Number of Turbines: 174

Turbine Height to tip of blade:190 metre

Turbine Type: Siemens Gamesea 7MW

Water Depth: 25 – 30 metres

Foundation: Monopile

Area: 407 square km

Operator: Orsted

Electricity Generation: 1 million homes.

Dogger Bank

Dogger Bank. Image Windpower Monthly

Dogger Bank Wind Farm is an offshore wind farm that will be the largest in the world when it’s finished, knocking Hornsea 1 off the top spot. It’s worth noting as it is located between 130km and 190km from the North East coast of England. Turbines are GE’s Haliade X 13 and 14 MW, over two and a half times taller than the Statue of Liberty and are likely to be considered by some developers for the Waterford coast. Dogger Bank will be capable of powering up to 6 million homes on completion in 2026. The subsea export cables will make landfall in Yorkshire, where around 30km of underground cables will take the electricity to converter stations near Cottingham before passing through the adjacent Creyke Beck substation onto the National Grid.

Distance from Shore: 130-190km

Number of Turbines: 600 (up to 200 for each phase).

Turbine Height: 260 metres

Turbine Type: General Electric’s Haliade X 13/14MW

Water Depth: 18-63metre.

Foundation: Monopile

Area: 8660 square km

Operator: SSE Renewables/Equinor/Eni

Electricity Generation: 6 million homes

Block Island Wind Farm ©John Supancic

BONUS Farm: Block Island off Rhode Island. America’s first offshore wind farm was operational in 2016 and its operation has since been taken over by the Danish company Orsted. Though it is a pilot windfarm – 5 Haliade 6MW turbines less than 5km offshore – this ‘little’ windfarm deserves its own post because for most of this summer the turbines were shut down and the island’s residents did not know why. I’ll post about it on Saturday and move the planned post for creating an artist’s impression of turbines further along.

The Winds of Change: The Proposal(s)

Proposed windfarms of the Waterford and Cork coasts: Map http://www.bluehorizon.ie

The above image from Blue Horizon* is probably the simplest way to illustrate what wind farms are being proposed for the coast of Waterford and Cork. In addition to these blocks, imagine 12 x 4km strips leading to shore at various points from Cork to Ballycotton to Bonmahon to Bannow. Those are areas to be surveyed for potential cable corridors – ultimately about 1km wide – for burying cables. They are included in images below. You can stop reading now if you like but I will go in to a bit more detail on companies and cable corridors below. There is a post on calculating distances from shore here.

*Blue Horizon are a group of interested indviduals who have come together calling for all offshore wind projects to be placed at least 22km from the Waterford coast, following the approach taken across the EU. Their website is a great resource

The Companies Proposing

Energia (once Viridian) is an Independent company and ESB’s main competitor. It used to be Irish owned but in 2006 it was sold to a Bahrain based investment group Arcapita and in 2016 sold on to US private equity firm I-Squared Cap, an independent global infrastructure investment manager. Energia have just been granted a licence to carry out Site Investigation works related to the potential development of a fixed (that is with turbines built into the sea bed) wind farm with an output capacity of 600-1000MW in the Celtic Sea off County Waterford. That MW would power very roughly half a million homes. It is the biggest single area being surveyed and the one closest to the coast. They are exploring 7 options for cable corridors and landfalls. Energia have recently been saying this wind farm is to be 10km offshore but as we can see it is (or was) planned for considerably closer than the ESB/Equinor proposal which is 10km and I certainly heard of a 5km distance some time earlier in the year. Watch this space.

Potential cable corridors for Energia’s wind farm. Image take from WLRFM’s website/Blue Horizon interview.

DP Energy Ireland is a Cork-based company owned by Maureen De Pietro and Simon De Pietro. DPEI are investigating the feasibility of Inis Ealga Marine Energy Park (IEMEP). Their’s is one of the few websites with photos of their team. They seem to be particularly interested in floating rather than fixed platforms. They are exploring 3 options for cable corridors and landfalls.

Potential cable corridors for DPEI’s wind farm aka ‘Marine Park’.

ESB, sure we all know them right?The Irish Government-owned power company and Energia’s rival are working with developers Equinor – a Norwegian government-owned group – on a number of projects. In my reading so far the ESB and Energia proposals for the Waterford coast have not had any distinction made between them and it’s possible they are in competition for the same area. ESB’s Helvick Offshore Windfarm is planned for 10km off shore and will take up 140 square km. ESB/Equinor are also working on Celtic 1, a fixed wind farm planned for 8km off Ballycotton. It will take up 120 square km. Its planned to be 600MW which would power over half a million homes. After that Celtic 2 is planned which is a floating wind farm. They are also working on a project, Sea Stacks, 12km off Dublin which will be 800MW.

SSE are a Scottish registered company (they also have pictures of some of their team on their site) and they are exploring two potential cable corridors and landfalls at Bannow Bay Wexford and Bonmahon, Co.Waterford for, I assume, their proposed floating windfarm planned for 25km off shore.

I am not going to go near Shell…we’ll the Cork lads deal with that.

A note about cable corridors and surveys.

SSE Renewables from their application to survey potential cable corridors and cable landfalls.

Cables carrying power from offshore to land need to be buried in the sea bed. Above is an image from SSE’s application for permission to survey for cable corridors. The requested area to survey for the corridors is 4km wide. In actuality they say they may survey a 1km strip of sea bed and after initial surveys may possibly only survey only one corridor in detail. I imagine this framework also applies to the other ten cable corridors being investigated for this clutch of windfarms. Surveying involves both geophysical/non-invasive (e.g. acoustic soundings) and geotechnical/invasive (e.g. vibrocore, boring, sampling) methods. This seems to suggest major disturbance over a wide variety of areas from inshore to off. Sadly, no matter how far out the windfarms are, the cable corridors – and cable landfalls (which I will look at along with shore based assemblage/construction/supply bases when I know more) will likely be a major consideration.

In the cable corridors there are echoes of Shell to Sea’s campaign against the natural gas pipeline. Anyone wishing to read more on that – and perhaps brace themselves – should read Once Upon a Time in the West:The Corrib Gas Controversy by Lorna Siggins. It’s a sobering read.

Next Wednesday I’ll do a short post describing some of the biggest existing and planned wind farms. Next Saturday I’ll have a look at creating an artist’s impression of an off shore wind farm. Comments are turned off but any information, comments, corrections etc are welcome via the contact form on this blog. I will consider guest posts too.

Windy Wednesday: The distance to the horizon for Dummies

This is a mini-post ahead of Saturday’s. The distance to the horizon varies from where you are standing on land. There are any number of ways to estimate distance to horizon.

  • If you’re standing at sea level, divide your height in half. So if you’re 5’6″ (5.5 feet) tall, the distance to the horizon is only about 2.75 miles.
  • Use an online distance to horizon calculator (link below)
  • Use the AIS Marine Traffic website which will give the position of most vessels you can see out on the water.
  • Use geographical features e.g. far off headlands, a map and a piece of string

I whale watch, most often from Dunabrattin at Boatstand, from the first car park going west. This is 22 metres (72 foot) above sea level. (I can find elevation using free online elevation finders. There’s a link to one below). Helvick head is 20 km from Dunabrattin as the crow flies on a map. So I can see at roughly 20km from 22 metres above sea level at Dunabrattin.

For more accuracy we can use formulas. This is the most simple one:

Multiply your height in metres above the ground by 13**, and take the square root of that.

So for Dunabrattin…

  • Height above sea level = 22 metres
  • Add my height up to to eye level = 23.6 metres
  • Multiply by 13 metres** (1.5 foot if using imperial) = 306.8
  • Calculate the square root (a calculator or Google does this for you) = 17.5157072366

According to this the horizon from straight out from Dunabrattin is 17km distant.

From Gallwey’s Hill in Tramore the horizon is 19km distant

From the Tramore Racecourse roundabout the horizon is 23km distant

But… that’s just the horizon. At 190-260 metres above sea level, the height of the proposed turbines is no small consideration. It seems to me that even a windfarm at 22km will be well visible from much our coast. And at 5 km or 10 km distance?Yikes.

Many of you will also be aware that it’s possible to see things over the horizon due to effects of the light. That is why one far off container ship may seem tiny while the upper decks of another one even further over the horizon is five times larger.

See you on Saturday when I’ll try and describe the proposal for the Waterford coast in 500 words or less. Any corrections, – especially to my equation! – comments etc. can be sent via the contact form on this blog.

**I am not sure where the 13 comes from. I think its something to do with triangles and the radius of the earth but as I have an allergy to sums my head imploded before I could read much more.

Links

Elevation Finder https://www.freemaptools.com/elevation-finder.htm

Marine Traffic https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-12.0/centery:25.0/zoom:4

Distance to Horizon Calculator http://www.ringbell.co.uk/info/hdist.htm

The Winds of Change: Introduction to a series

The first in a series of posts on Waterford’s Copper Coast

We have all sorts of life here on the Waterford Coast, on the water and the cliffs and beaches, from the fin whales which travel east past us every autumn and winter to the the tiny sprat they chase. Dolphins, porpoise and otters frolic, seals bask and fish jump. Birds – cormorants, shags, gulls, divers, heron, kestrels, buzzards, stonechat, chough, curlew, rooks and jackdaws – are legion too. There’s fisherfolk, surfers, kite surfers, kayakers, stand-up paddlers, long and short distance swimmers, seaweed collectors and cockle pickers, bird and whale watchers, walkers and hikers. So far amenities for tourists along the coast are sparse (thankfully so some think) but a long-term, sensitive plan could bring millions to the area as Waterford is increasingly being recognised as a beautiful part of Ireland.

But now, before any sustainable tourism framework has gained a foothold, a windfarm – or a series of them – is planned for the entire 30km of our coast. Initially the closest group of turbines (said to be between 190 and 260 metres high) was to be 5km off shore, though lately Energia, the company responsible, has referred to minimum distances of 10km. This is still far closer than the recommended 22km which is roughly how far off the horizon is from much of our coast road.

My own initial and negative reaction was based on a belief that we need the wild spaces far more than we realise, but its a need that can be hard to quantify or rationalize. Later I also realised that my issues were not with wind power exactly but how it is developed and who it is developed by. For me this is a very important distinction.

But I am not yet convinced wind power on this scale is guaranteed to last. What will the cost to benefit ratio really be?Could this development make things worse in the long run?Leave us with a destroyed coastline and expensive bills?What if there is no long run?What if it is way past the time for any of us to be able to reap any benefits from such developments?Why do we have an energy crisis in the first place? Could there be more grassroots solutions?

I’ll post every Saturday for the next while as I explore these questions. I’ll try to keep an open mind but it will be a personal study and I may not reach any conclusions. Perhaps it may help others frame their own questions. I’ll keep it short, it won’t all be windfarms, there’ll be a fair amount of sea appreciation and old posts too. And hopefully guest posters. I am turning comments off on all posts on the blog because really, who has the time? But anyone can contact me privately via the contact form on this blog.

Welcome on board!

Archive – Into the Blue: Thoughts on Living and Dying

CROSSM

Going out to the cliffs last evening, I absentmindedly sat down right beside Eamonn Coady’s cross. I was thinking of Gillian Ryan. Gillian was an athlete from Tipperary who died after a fall while running in the Comeragh mountains at the weekend. Her death made international news and seems to have touched a nerve. As I sat there, I realised that it would be Eamonn’s anniversary today, April 22nd. 44 years ago the 14 year old Waterford boy died after a fall from the cliff. The subsequent, difficult retrieval saw the establishment of Tramore Sea Cliff Rescue and since then many other fantastic volunteer organisations such as SEMRA who, after 3 days searching, brought Gillian down from a gully at Coumshingaun on Tuesday in difficult conditions. Our search and rescue teams are the best of us. Here’s a post I wrote about Eamonn in 2013.

On the cliffs there is a cross. Maybe once it was painted black but now it’s the colour of raw umber. It is set into a smooth, rectangular, grey stone which is engraved with the name and age of a boy who died here over 30 years ago at the age of 14. Last week as I was sitting nearby watching for whales, the sea and the sky spreading south at my feet, my thoughts wandered to the boy again.

I imagined him to be like many 14-year-old boys as he crossed the fields on that long ago April day, full of laughter and trouble and fun and confusion and angst and possibility before that moment when he tumbled into the blue. I suppose his family will remember him as the person he was but the rest of us may be inclined to fashion the bare cross and its words into a story that makes us feel safe from the long searching finger of death, a story that is not our story because surely our story will make more sense?

When we hear someone has died young it often arouses pity in our hearts at the tragedy of the loss of years that could ‘reasonably’ have been depended on. But are we not all of us more than our deaths? Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations tells us that when we die, no matter what our span of years has been, we all lose the same thing and one thing only: the present moment. Everything else is illusion, the future, the past, they are only so much dust, mere constructs we have tried to impose on the chaos of life.

All this was in my head when I heard yesterday of the sudden death of the brother of a friend of mine (and the friend of a brother of mine) at the age of 41. I did not know him that well but there are connections between our families and the loss is deeply felt, the sudden manner of his death – slow enough for realisation perhaps but too swift for any chance of preparation- deeply saddening.

So I am feeling, saddened and sickened as I get on my bike and take off around the coast and the countryside. It is a grey day but mild for December. The south wind is raking the sea when I stop at Dunabrattin where large numbers of gulls hang and glide and turn on the currents overhead. I head inland, along country roads. There is no traffic and I feel alone in all the world but not lonely. It is not an unfriendly day. Two horses stand in a field, their dark tails fanning out in the breeze. A rook cocks its head at me from an overhead wire, a dog barks, a marmalade cat with a pale chest appears beside a red and white barn. There is a buzzard standing in the stubble of a field, ragged legs and yellow beak. It is a bird I have never seen before.

There is the human urge in me to see patterns everywhere. 41 years is 14 years backwards I think. The buzzard, the unusual stillness,  the gulls…But I dismiss them before I can even wonder what it all means.

If we start to feel sad for these ‘early’ deaths, pity separates us from them. But how are these boys that have gone different from us really?They were what we are now: people living out the span of their lives, whatever that span may be. Remove time from the equation and we are all just doing our best in the here and now: laughing, struggling, talking, fighting, loving, hating, despairing, panicking, angry, in pain and fear and occasional joy.

In an effort to relieve our sorrow we fit the dead into neat little stories and patterns. They are an anomaly we think. Our departure when it comes will be different, more graceful, more timely. But the truth is we are all of us tossed around on the sea of life navigating through whatever comes. We are all in the same big, bastardy boat. We are all in our ‘present moments’ and that is how we remember each other, those who have just walked out of the room and those who will not return.

I tear through the countryside my lungs heaving in the smokey air, flavoured with the occasional piney tang of fresh-cut logs, past the stone walls that line the undulating pale road. A dolmen, a red pump, skeletal trees scratching the grey sky. A magpie – no two!thank the gods – the cats and the dogs, horse and cows and strange birds weave in and out of my vision. I am in my moment as others have been in theirs, cycling, running, gallivanting on the cliffs or sitting, as Nick sometimes did, cat in lap, in front of a fire talking of everything under the sun. Like those moments, my moment will some day end too. Maybe today I will not make it home.

I do make it home. This time. I take off my helmet and gloves and wheel my bike inside without pausing and set to go about the business of living, intent on doing as little as possible to stir the great lake of sadness inside me this day.

“No one can lose either the past or the future – how could anyone be deprived of what he does not possess? … It is only the present moment of which either stands to be deprived: and if this is all he has, he cannot lose what he does not have.”
~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

For Nick and Eamonn and Gillian. And all of us….

Archive: The Lads

the-lads-main-inage
The Lads

Here in Ireland we use the phrase ‘the lads’ a lot. ‘The lads’ can refer to groups of males or females or a mixture of both. For many of us ‘the lads’ are our closest friends, the ones we can let our hair down with, have a bit of craic . But ‘the lads’ can be applied to other groups too. ‘The lads’ can be work mates who may or may not be such good friends (though if they are giving you a really hard time you’ll most likely refer to them as ‘the bastards’ rather than ‘the lads’). Your manager may refer to you as ‘lads’ to engender a feeling of camaraderie. Some unfortunate bosses, desperate to keep up with modern trends have been known attempt ‘lads and lassies‘ with unfortunate results.

‘The lads’ can also be people you don’t know well but whom you find yourself spending time with such as people you meet at a conference…

“Well lads, will we have a drink?”..

..creates a feeling of familiarity. And the drink helps too I suppose.

Within families it is used also. My brother refers to his kids as ‘the lads’ and when my parents are going to visit them they always say they are going to see ‘the lads’. My brother and his wife are included in this but it is understood, by me anyway, that the kids are the main ‘lads’. In fact any group, no matter how small, that comes together with a positive spirit can be called ‘the lads’.

Maybe its because of my wonky hearing, which means I don’t get out so much, my understanding of ‘the lads’ has extended itself beyond humans. There are two inseparable doggie friends up the road, a Yorkshire Terrier and his pal, a Basenji, who, when they can escape their owner, hide behind a bush ready to jump out at passing cars. Luckily for them they are very bad at hiding and I always say to myself when I see them from 200 yards off…

‘There are the lads now, up to no good.’

When I run out of bird food to feed my gang of sparrows I remind myself that I must get some seed for ‘the lads’. If I see a gang of rooks I think…

crows

‘Would you look at the lads, they’re having great craic.’

When I think of the swallows at the end of the winter, I say to myself…

‘The lads will be back soon.’

So ‘the lads’ are symbolic of good connections. They are either your own crew or another crew in whom you recognise the friendships you enjoy or have once enjoyed. Even if you think you have no ‘lads’, when you recognise ‘the lads’ anywhere that means you are, always, one of ‘the lads’.

Slightly worryingly, I have found myself thinking of inanimate objects in this way too. My old boss Ans used the direct translation from Dutch when she spoke in English to refer to objects…

‘Ya dis chair, he is broken..’

…she would say and immediately the chair would have my sympathy. I liked the idea that no matter how hostile an environment is, there will always be something that you can project feelings of camaraderie onto. Being bullied at the office? Chairy will have your back. No one talking to you? Desky’s on your side. But mad as I may be starting to sound, so far I have not referred to anything inanimate as ‘the lads’. Until this morning that is…

I was looking out the window at two pairs of socks and a pair of knickers I had left on the line over night due to sheer laziness. There they were, abandoned the previous evening in favour of the ‘big’ clothes, flapping forlornly in the rising wind, alone against the elements, only each other for comfort and the sky darkening from the west.

“I must bring the lads in before they get wet”…I said to myself.

And then I thought…

‘I need to get out more…’

socks

Archive: Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, Tramore 2013

Walking in to Tramore town to collect my car, abandoned at the start of an unplanned night out, I was feeling a little fragile. When I came across the St. Patrick’s Day parade at the top of Gallwey’s hill over looking the beach, I took the opportunity to stop and take a breath. The exuberance, colour and good humour of both the parade and the crowd was immediately captivating as well as surprising. The growing media coverage of glitzier spectacles in the 80s and 90s began to make local parades, with their ragged processions of vans and trucks, the inevitably sodden troops of scouts and Irish dancers, look dull, made it hard to work up much interest.

This parade was a lot bigger than I expected. There were the shiny vans and ambulances of our Coastguard in their smart uniforms along with the Sea Cliff Rescue. Smiling tractor drivers chugged by on their colourful tractors and classic cars, carefully polished, gleamed in the surprising sunshine.

ROCKY DRIVING THE WOMEN NUTS
Rocky Mills..

Local businesses were represented on floats and by gleaming vans. Some extra vehicular oomph was provided by TCRFM and their sexy red convertible and Tramore Tourism’s retro caravan. T-Bay Surf Club, who won best float with their big funky bus and hawaiian shirts. Even the Pope was there in his Popemobile though he was naturally outclassed by the legendary Rocky Mills, local Elvis impersonator. There were many more participants who I missed: the bands, the scouts, the taekwondo club, the dancers, the athletes and all the various groups that make up a community. 

To see these people – the exuberant leprechauns with sacks of free goodies, the crowd with their balloons and wigs and flags, Rocky rocking out, the pirates in their wee boat and my own favourite, the Metal Man – was a burst of positivity that I didn’t know I needed. Life has been tough across the board in recent years and the future is weighs heavy on most. Yet here were crowds of people, people who had dressed up, washed their cars and tractors, who had made an effort to show their achievements with pride, all smiling and laughing in the sun together. Standing there, propped against the old pebbledashed wall in the bright spring air, I had a deeper understanding of the importance of community and I felt stirrings of local pride…

…then again it could have been the hangover….

Archive: The Battle for the Metal Man 2013

The Metal Man and his pillars in 2005 before some Waterford business people sponsored their repainting. Photo:The Author.

This is a synopsis of three posts from 2013 that were moved when the site name was changed. This summary was created as a part of a new archive of The Mermaid’s Purse posts and reposted in order to provide an historical account of some events in the life of The Metal Man, a local amenity in Tramore, Co.Waterford, Ireland. 

Back in 2009, a community group, Tramore Tourism, was encouraged by the then Waterford County Council to seek ownership of the Metal Man and his pillars – including the pillars at Brownstown Head – from the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) who, having no practical reasons for maintaining their upkeep, were prepared to gift them to an appropriate organisation. Waterford County Council had already refused ownership due to lack of money. In summer 2010 CIL determined that Tramore Tourism were the best candidates to do so.

It was necessary for Tramore Tourism to set up a legal entity to receive the pillars and Tramore Heritage Ltd. (THL) was born in October 2011. THL was limited by guarantee and was a public company. A public company in this instance means not-for-profit rather than being connected to the stock market. This appears to be the only way for a group or community to create a legal framework and is used by sports clubs and amenities such as Hook Head Lighthouse. None of the directors of a public company can make profit from it in any way nor sell any assets. If THL had wound up, the pillars would have to be passed onto another community group. The board of THL consisted of various local business people and, initially, a Tramore Town Councillor. THL had also applied for charitable status which, once granted, would have provided extra safeguards for the public.

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THL’s plan for the Metal Man Heritage Trail

THL worked towards getting the transfer of the pillars from CIL locally approved as well as negotiating access with the farmers on whose land the pillars stand. THL met with various interested parties a number of times to discuss their plans in detail. A public meeting was called for and held in January 2012 in the civic offices in Tramore.

Not everyone agreed that THL was the best way forward. In 2010 the Town Councillor had parted ways with THL. In December 2012 the concerned councillor wrote to An Taisce raising concerns around THL’s public company status. The fear was that the pillars were falling into private hands. Incidentally, in September 2012, that same councillor had set up a private company called Tramore Cultural Development (TCDL) to “assist individuals and organisations working to advance the preservation of the towns heritage.”

An Taisce then wrote to the Tramore Town Manager suggesting the deal be postponed until 2014 when Tramore Town Council – who had approval of any transfer of the pillars – would be dissolved, elections would take place and the new Amalgamated Council could take on the ownership of the pillars. It was suggested that the new Amalgamated Council (with some seats still to be contested at this point) could then lease the pillars to a private company interested in preserving local heritage. Any access to the pillars would have to be renegotiated.

Due to this confusion of the definition of public versus private company, in early 2013 things got heated. To cut a long story short, enough doubt and obsfuscation were created around company status – particularly in a social media campaign in March and April of 2013 that included personal attacks on THL’s board – that Tramore Town Council ultimately decided not to approve the transfer of the Metal Man and its pillars from CIL to THL. As An Taisce had suggested, on the back of the concerned councillor’s letter, a move was put forward to get the Council, soon to be The Waterford City & County Council, to take over the pillars. THL was dissolved as it had been set up for the sole purpose of managing the pillars for the community in the first place

Eight years on, it appears nothing came of that motion and without access to the land or any necessary legal framework, it may be very difficult to restart any venture there. Even if the Council do manage to gain access, as was suggested might be on the cards in the local press in 2015, the quality of the management of the amenity in either cash-strapped council hands or left to a private company, may not be popular with locals.

The pillars still remain, undisturbed.

Photo:The Author.

A Note on Sources

Most sources were public and included articles and letters in national and local newspapers incl. The Journal, The Waterford News and Star, The Munster Express, The Tramore Tourism and Friends of the Metal Man Facebook Pages and Solocheck for company information. Other sources included directors of THL interviewed by the author at their invitation while other individuals aired their views extensively on a public Facebook page which set up in March 2013 specifically to “save” the Metal Man from THL. It was deleted soon afterwards, however screenshots were taken.

Appendix

The Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) is the General Lighthouse Authority for all of Ireland, its adjacent seas and islands. The Metal Man and his pillars are defunct and CIL no longer want the responsibility of them.

Tramore Tourism is a community group established in 1991 to promote Tramore and has many active members from various business sectors in the community.They were encouraged by the County Council back in 2009 to begin the process of obtaining the Metal Man.

Tramore Heritage Ltd. (THL) was a legal entity set up by Tramore Tourism to receive the Metal Man and his pillars. It is limited by guarantee, it is non-profit and public. It has also been negotiating access, planning a cliff walk to the Metal Man. Its accountant, solicitor and surveyor worked for them pro bono. If THL is ever wound up the pillars and all assets will go to the next appropriate community group.

Tramore Cultural Development (TCDL), established in 2012 it is still operational and has been recently designated a micro company, a category created as part of the Companies Act 2017

Tramore Town Council was dissolved in 2014 when the Waterford City and County Councils were amalgamated. Some Town Councillors already had a seat on the new County Council at the time of these events while some would have to fight for one.

Waterford County Council (now Waterford  City & County Council) will always have an element control over the development of this area due to planning processes. The County Council tried to get access to the Metal Man some decades ago and failed despite the willingness of the land owner at the time.

An Taisce, our version of The National Trust in the UK, which is a far more influential organisation, must be informed of any developments in areas where there are archeological, environmental or architectural concerns. Local authorities are required to consult with them on certain applications.

The Landowners are those who own the working farmland on which the Metal Man stands and naturally enough they control the access.

Archive: Princesses

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Car Park 4:50am

One of my friends, one of my princesses, is having a sad time at the moment and I am reminded of this post about the place we both used to work.

I always used to get annoyed at the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne singing the praises of the blue-collar worker…

‘Try working with some of these people,’…I used to think….‘Then you’d change your tune.’

I worked in a factory for nearly ten years. It was, and remained for a long time, a foreign and confusing place for me. Factories have reputations for being hot beds of bitching, gossip and dissension. Within any factory one area will view the workers in another area as the very citizens of hell. During those years I would sometimes see myself as if from afar and wonder what I had done to be landed in this fluorescent, screeching Hades.

‘Surely I am a Princess?’…I would think, as machinery clattered around me…‘Surely this cannot be happening to me?’

…and I would imagine myself waking up on a heart-shaped bed in a mansion somewhere on a temperate coast, curtains ruffling in the warm breeze from the french windows, my heart rate slightly elevated after an unpleasant, half-remembered nightmare, looking forward to a champagne breakfast served by a nice young man. It became a bit of a joke. Sometimes when my manager would ask me to do something I would say…

“Don’t you know I am a Princess?!”

When a chair appeared with a capital letter ‘P’ scrawled on it, it became my chair.’P’ for Princess. Sometimes I would be called Princess. Though perhaps that could have been sarcastic.

People everywhere can be annoying but in a factory your movements are restricted, your breaks coordinated. Being confined for 12 hours with a rag-tag selection of people, especially overnight, can really turn the screws. Some people can be combative or surly, weird or helpless, hysterical or worse – relentlessly cheerful. Some might smell bad. Others insist on playing thrash metal stations on the radio. But by far the most annoying ones are the ones who will not pull their weight, leaving you exhausted and angry after every single shift.

night shift window cr

6am Break

I once worked on a team with a woman who, had she put the amount of effort into actual work that she put into avoiding work, would now be President of the World. I tied myself in knots to make sure that work got sent her way but only succeeded in increasing my own work load. Yet she always managed to look busy when a manager turned up. An extraordinary number of people combined laziness with delusion. One of my co-workers decided she was our boss. So she stopped doing her work in favour of bustling around with pieces of paper and having loud conversations with managers. What she wanted quickly became reality not because of any actual talent or universal magic but because, as I learned, managers are always on the look out for new people to blame things on. Soon she was authorized to bustle around with pieces of paper. She eventually bustled her way out of the company leaving a large swathe of annoyed and relieved people behind her.

The night shifts, so novel initially, were hell multiplied by ten. On a night shift everything you have ever learned, every adjustment you have ever made to your behaviour, every bit of personal growth is put to the test. And fails. You find yourself back at your worst self; sulky, cranky, angry, impatient and more. Add some other people undergoing the same testing and you get something as close to unbearable as to make you insane. On top of this there was incomprehensible training literature to be read, meetings to attend and re-training exercises to complete to stay abreast of regulations. At 6am when you’re so tired you crave to lie down and die, it smacked of torture. The first time someone told me I was to be tested at this time, I cracked up laughing. I thought it was a joke…

“You want me to do a test?Now?At 6am?”

Then…

“Don’t you know I am a Princess?”

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11pm Break

But it wasn’t all bad and sometimes it was even a tiny bit magical. There was that time I crashed a pallet truck and its load all over the floor at 5am and everyone abandoned their work to get down on their knees, laughing, to  help. Or when the books from the book club were brought in. When I went to the toilet and ended up accidentally taking the door off its hinges and couldn’t get it back on for laughing. When someone came in soaked because they walked into a ‘puddle’ in the car park that turned out to be two foot deep. When cake or a tin of sweets made an appearance. When someone told me to sit down while they dealt with the 100th alarm on my machine because my legs were aching so badly I literally couldn’t stand any more. There were the conversations about philosophy, hair, sociology, war, cake, culture, the nature of inspiration and poo. And entire shifts spent laughing.

I found out the good places to get my hair done, buy clothes, make up and heating oil. One of the technicians designed and machined some brackets for me, told me more than once what was wrong with my car and advised me what to invest in. Another told me how to fix the light in my bathroom and which web host was the best. Cheap DVDs made the rounds along with the Avon catalogue. There were duck eggs for sale, a weekly lottery and take out meals organised on a bank holiday when the canteen was closed. I was once given a tomato plant in the car park.

My colleagues went to a constant cycle of concerts and weekend breaks, holidays, christenings, parties, meals, birthdays and funerals. There were the shift nights out and foreign trips which I never went on and now wonder why. The whip rounds, which so annoyed me with the constant request for money for the relatives of people I had never laid eyes on, I see now, were part of something necessary. I learned of the different burdens people carried – the sicknesses, the losses, the griefs – borne lightly in many cases. And also the achievements; the college degrees, the babies, races run, new businesses, new cars, escaping a war zone. I glimpsed other lives, other ways of being, from having a mortally sick child to growing up around lions. And when I screwed up there was always someone there to help.

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7am Break

Leaving it all behind for college came as a shock. Suddenly I was among people, good people no doubt, but people for whom life was somewhere in the future. Or somewhere else. Getting to know fellow travellers was no longer necessary. Everyone I had worked with had asked how I slept, how my week was, how my life was, over and over and over again. In college no one even asked how the weekend was. Some students didn’t even acknowledge the existence of those outside their own circle. They just didn’t have to.

I look back at the people I worked with now and see them tearing into life, determined not to miss a beat. I miss this urgency, the ‘nowness’ that hummed below the surface. I miss the way someone would always find a way to connect even though they thought you were weird, or cantankerous, or a bitch (and I was). They would find something in you, some thread and they’d pull it, this thread, and somehow, like it or not, know it or not, you found yourself, over the years, woven into the fabric of something much bigger.

Sometimes in my last years, the best years, in the wee hours, hallucinating from weariness, numb and speechless, I would find myself surrounded by a clatter of co-workers snagged at some junction of machinery, gossiping, laughing, teasing, shoulder to shoulder, nylon coats crackling with electricity. Caught in this sea of silkiness topped by the gauzy hair nets that crowned our shining heads, it would occur to me that I wasn’t the only one who had thought they might end up somewhere else. Through eyes blurred with tiredness I might imagine us in a ballroom, lit by the blaze of a thousand chandeliers, about to step out, me and my fellow Princesses, to finally dance.

Sunday Archive: The Whale Watcher by Kathleen Jamie

As there still a lot of whales off the Copper Coast I thought I would re-post this poem this week.

And when at last the road
gives out, I’ll walk –
harsh grass, sea-maws,
lichen-crusted bedrock –

and hole up the cold
summer in some battered
caravan, quartering
the brittle waves

till my eyes evaporate
and I’m willing again
to deal myself in:
having watched them

breach, breathe, and dive
far out in the glare,
like stitches sewn in a rent
almost beyond repair.

Kathleen Jamie
from The Tree House (Picador, 2004)

WHALE WATCHING. BAGINBUN, WEXFORD (oil on board) Clare Scott

Whale Watching at Baginbun, Wexford, oil on board (private collection).