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Ireland will be ringing in the New Year with high hopes that the economy will start to pick up again in 2011. We have our public holiday here on monday and from January 4th, the collective mind will turn to the new season ahead.
One of the big events which will be taking place in Co. Waterford is the Festival of the Tall Ships at the beginning of July and it is expected that approximately 500,000 people will be coming to see this amazing sight in the lovely crystal city, with its very long history.
Before that, though, we have spring to look forward to and it tends to be a lovely time to visit Ireland. The trees are already in bud but over the next two months, we will have our green, green leaves back and the hedgerows will come alive with primroses and daffodils that grow in wild profusion in the fields. One of the most wonderful sights in spring in Ireland is to see the newborn lambs playing in green fields where the wild flowers are dancing in the sunlight.
For those of us, like myself, who live by the sea, it is great to see visitors arriving. Tramore, my town, is arguably the main seaside resort in the country and was established as a 'spa' from around 1750. Normally, we see the first influx of tourists from St. Patrick's Day on March 17th.
There are all sorts of rituals associated with 'ringing in the New Year' and most families have their own special traditions. For example, the extended family of our neighbours all congregate and on the stroke of midnight they emerge, all 3 generations, banging saucepans with metal spoons. Soon the whole community joins in and there is a little procession, like that of an ancient tribe. Soon all is quiet and we wait for the New Dawn.
In our family, we have a tradition of going to a little cove, called Newtown Cove, shortly before midnight and picking stones, which we call our 'wishing stones' and throwing them into the sea whilst making a secret wish for the New Year.
Newtown Cove, Tramore, Co. Waterford
I wonder if many of the Irish traditions around ringing in the New Year have been taken up in America by people with connections to this country.
I would like to wish everyone a Very Happy and Peaceful New Year from my base here in Tramore, in the South-East of Ireland.