About 8 miles due east of Waterford city (I still call it city despite the fact the government ripped the title from us last year) there is a little village called Passage East on the estuary of the Suir River. Passage, as it is called locally, has a lot of history for such a tiny place. It has been the site of a ferry on and off since the times of the Templar Knights who owned land in Wexford. The current Ferry has been running since 1982. It is a car ferry and takes about five minutes to cross over to Ballyhack in Wexford county saving the driver a long motor round by way of Waterford Bridge and New Ross. An elderly friend of mine who moved to the area recently said it had been a life long dream of his to travel on the Passage Ferry. Until he found it cost more than €5.
“More than €5?! I’ll go round by New Ross!”
Passage saw the landing of Cromwell’s army who had vowed that he would get troops into Ireland by Hook (The Hook Head in Wexford) or by Crooke (a tiny village a few miles down river of Passage) which is where that adage originated. I wrote about a little farm at Crooke here. More recently a spin-off from the Eastenders TV series was filmed here but don’t ask me what it’s called.
The other thing that makes Passage famous are its herd of wild goats which have been grazing on the hill overlooking Passage for over 200 years. Though the small community cherishes the herd for the most part, the goats are not popular with everyone because of their penchant for vegetables and laundry (probably). Mind you someone liked them well enough to make off with 20 of them about five years ago. The report in the newspaper said there was reward of €1000 for information. So someone else liked them even more. The same report said they had been loaded into a trailer by people using sheep dogs and driven to Co.Clare. Someone from a larger country might wonder why the Gardai need more information than that but around here no one will give anyone up in case they are somehow related to their Mammy. Unless there’s money involved. So the Gardai need all the help they can get. I don’t think the goats were ever returned. It is rumoured that the unfortunate creatures were made into bodhráns* by black marketeers. I kid you not (pun intended). Apparently it’s a thing. And Co.Clare is a well know hub of traditional music…
I was lucky enough that I had my camera in the car when I passed through Passage last May and spotted them sitting by the sign outside the village brazen as you like. Their numbers seem to have recovered too.
*Bodhráns are those round, narrow hand-held drums made with goat skin that are used by traditional musicians. Pronounce it Bow (as in bowwow) Rawn.
For more information check out the links below the photos. Julian Walton is our local historian and its well worth Googling him for more information. He also has two excellent books out based on his radio spot On This Day. I got the information on the goat theft from the Irish Times and on the goats mixed reviews from an article by Kieran Foley in the Munster Express of March 2nd this year.