Most people have heard of Waterford crystal. The imagination, skill and ability of its craftsmen to turn liquid glass into amazing objects have helped make the town famous all over the world.
Drinking glasses, decanters, vases, chandeliers, ornaments, clocks, trophies, the list goes on and on. If you can imagine it and want it, the company has or will make it.
I have a one-off carved piece of crystal given to my parents by an apprentice who made it as one of his pieces for qualifying as a craftsman. The design is unique, the piece is a marvel and the craftsmanship is superb.
The city of Waterford is like that - unique, a marvel and superb in every way.
I must own up to partisanship. I was born there.
Family roots make me proud to claim the city as my home town. My pride goes beyond family connections.
There is something special about Waterford’s links with the sea - a very long tradition established by the arrival of the Vikings in the 9th century. The city’s sea links with countries all over the world go some way to explaining the urge to wander that has driven so many of its citizens to travel widely.
I doubt there is a country anywhere in the world bordering a sea or ocean that has not been inhabited by a Waterford man or woman. From what is a tiny port by modern standards, its sea links spread all around the world.
In my first book, Rowing Down the World to Auckland I had a Waterford man setting off from Dunmore East to row in a dinghy to New Zealand. Impossible? Why? To a Waterford man anything is possible. They grow hardy men in that city.
Another book, The Devil to Pay deals with the growth of evil under the guise of religion. I based it in Waterford with a group of young lads running through streets and lanes that were familiar to me as a child.
My next book, Snuff O’Brien’s Private War is about a volunteer fighter returning home at the end of the Spanish Civil War. Those familiar with the town will recognise the landmarks, the streets and the places featured in the book.
Why would I invent a fictional town as my backdrop when I can draw on so much richness in what is a remarkable historical town, the oldest city in Ireland?
Are there more books based in Waterford to come? Bet on it. I have only scratched the surface of a rich seam of imagination and history.
Read my books to gather some flavour of the people and of the place. Better still go and visit Waterford for yourself. Be prepared to be delighted and showered with hospitality that is generous and warm hearted.