WexBUG committe member, Hazel Reid tells us how a simple piece of infrastructure (in this case, a footpath) has meant so much to the local community of Kilmuckridge.
This pavement piece may seem out of place on a cycling website, but it is all about infrastructure and vision, this path for many was just about a safe way to walk to the beach, yet it has positively changed the culture of the area.Hazel Reid.
In general in the Kilmuckridge area we all knew it was coming, we had known this for a long time, at least since the new houses (no longer new) went up half way down the Morriscastle road.
Prior to the houses, it had been a general hope, but that is going back to the 1980s/90s when you didn’t really hope for such things. Anyway it finally came. The trucks and genius team of people arrived in various stages, and then within three or four months it came, the footpath came and linked Kilmuckridge village to Morriscastle Beach. It actually came in stages and it crosses the road at one point but it’s there and it is used, it is really used.
Kilmuckridge Village, is just over 3km from Morriscastle Beach, it is downhill one way, you are heading to sea level, and uphill the other.
During the first lock-down, the one with the 2km from home limit, it was to be expected that the village dwellers wouldn’t be seen on the beach.
Sadly, it was also a time when many of the long-time walkers didn’t even walk down the road to the beach, justly age and fear kept many at home.
Morriscastle may be home to me, but I don’t live there anymore.
Mum and Dad do, and from the edge of their field you can see the beach.
During Spring 2020 when I delivered groceries etc. to their door Mum and I would occasionally walk to the edge of the field to peep at the beach, invariably the long stretch of shore was empty.
The move on the 5th May 2020 brought the village into 5km from the beach. Even with the lovely weather, it was still relatively quiet at the strand. The Summer eventually brought the ‘bathers’ and many more than normal as all Ireland was home. The footpath got finished and was a very welcome safe addition to the area.
Wexford in Summer is “teeming with jackeens, and you’re as likely to see a blue football jersey strolling along the promenades as a purple and gold one” * and Morriscastle and Kilmuckridge welcome this each year and Summer 2020 was a busy festive one even within pandemic limits.
However, Autumn/Winter has really brought this new link to life.
This winter several early morning appointments saw me on the Morriscastle road before sunrise and people would already be out walking along the footpath. What has really surprised me has been that since the footpath went in I have yet to go down the road without seeing someone walking it. In the fog of various restrictions I have driven it when we could go places and when we were restricted in various ways, but this path delights me and fascinates me as I see people out all the time. I bumped into old school friends from the village who had walked to the beach, I have never bumped into them before on the beach, the beach in Winter was usually ours alone. I expect much of this vitality has to do with the restrictions, but regardless it is a good change.
Even our family have walked to the village for an ice-cream from Bella Napoli, also new and a another highlight. I haven’t walked that road much since my brother and I swung our school bags at each other on the way home from school, yet now it’s pretty much the perfect walk with pizz, should you want it, (Lawlers and Bella Napoli) at both ends, and coffee and cake in the middle (Castle Delights) and plenty of trees and glimpses of the sea on the way. This pavement piece may seem out of place on a cycling website, but it is all about infrastructure and vision, this path for many was just about a safe way to walk to the beach, yet it has positively changed the culture of the area. The change the pavement has brought is reminiscent of the tone of an old song ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter From Camp)’ where after complaining and asking to come home the child writes “gee that’s bettah, Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter” after the sun comes out and the kids all start to have a great time.
Before, when I didn’t know that the Waterford Greenway hadn’t officially opened, I cycled a section of it with my kids and while beautiful it was quiet as were the businesses along its route. A year later, when it had officially opened the whole area was transformed this experience reminds me of what I see with the addition of this new footpath, when the infrastructure it’s there it attracts people, lots of people often happily drinking coffee and eating pizza and ice-cream, and chatting.
Moves are being made to put pedestrians safely back on the roads and cycling may continue to decrease without safe ways to do it which can be done via investment.
Cars have gotten bigger and paths proliferate meaning there is no room for everyday cycling.
As a girl my Nanny lived on the Morriscatle road and she and her family walked and cycled everywhere and it was safe for them and now a few generations later walking is safe for walking again and that’s great!
When they built it, people came, maybe I’ll see you there.