The Meeting of the Waters

Deep in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, just outside of Manaus, two rivers join to create the mighty Amazon River. One, the Rio Solimões, is a light, sandy colour; the other, the Rio Negro, is predictably darker.  What makes this confluence interesting is that for the best part of four miles, the waters refuse to mix, flowing resolutely onwards before the inevitable mingling of their liquids as they finally dissolve into one unified Amazon River. The Portuguese name for this area is Encontro das Águas, sometimes translated as the Meeting of the Rivers but more often than not, as The Meeting of the Waters.

Far, far away, across oceans and hemispheres, on the lush green island of Ireland, you will find another place known as The Meeting of the Waters, or more casually as The Meetings.  Two rivers, inventively named Avonmore (from the Irish “Abhainn Mhór” meaning Big River) and Avonbeg (from the Irish “Abhainn Bheag” meaning, you guessed it, Little River) join forces here to create the Avoca River.

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Avonmore

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Avonbeg

The river gives this part of County Wicklow its name, the Vale of Avoca. It was a beloved place of Irish poet, singer and balladeer Thomas Moore, the chap who penned The Minstrel Boy, The Last Rose of Summer and many more. He also wrote a little piece entitled ‘The Meeting of the Waters’ extolling the natural beauty of this little patch of the planet. He wrote it seated under a tree overlooking the confluence of these two rivers; a tree that became known as The Moore Tree.

Growing up, the only thing I remember about The Meetings was a nearby hotel where you could stop for a coffee on your way to somewhere else. Nowadays, there is a lovely little park on the banks of the rivers, a park dedicated to the man who memorialized this spot with his poetry. Thomas Moore Memorial Park is nature corralled with the lightest of touches. Drifts of wildflowers line the riverbanks…

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

…the stone bridge over Avonbeg is dotted with foxgloves growing precariously out of chinks in the stonework…

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

…and rhododendrons and flag iris soften the edges of a painted wooden bridge spanning marshy lands to allow easy access to the riverbanks.

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

At the bottom of the gently-sloped entryway, near where the old Moore Tree used to stand, there is a memorial to the man himself.

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The Moore Tree didn’t have an easy time over the years. It fell over and lay on its side for a few years until locals got together in 1911 and shifted it upright once more. In 1938 a storm toppled it again, and once more the locals hoisted it back into place. In 1964, over she went again. This time, some prudent pruning was undertaken, great pieces were lopped off before resurrecting the Moore Tree one more time with feeling. All went well until 2008 when it fell one last time and most of it was washed away by the rushing waters.

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

In 2012 the local community got together and planted a new tree on the spot of the old Moore Tree and dedicated it to their favourite minstrel boy. The remains of the original tree lie in ceremony at the foot of the new tree.

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

From here, it’s just a short wander past an old bullaun stone…

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

… to the riverbanks, where you can have lunch at a picnic table, or just sit on a bench facing the rivers and let the rushing waters chase your worries away.

vale of avoca, meeting of the waters, wicklow, ireland, thomas moore, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Here, then, are the words Thomas Moore wrote as he sat under his tree surrounded by the natural beauty of this gorgeous vale.

The Meeting of the Waters (Thomas Moore 1779-1852)

There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet
Oh the last rays of feeling and life must depart
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart

Yet it was not that nature had shed o’er the scene
Her purest of crystal and brightest of green
‘Twas not her soft magic of streamlet or hill
Oh No ’twas something more exquisite still
Oh No ’twas something more exquisite still

‘Twas that friends, the belov’d of my bosom were near
Who made every scene of enchantment more dear
And who felt how the best charms of nature improve
When we see them reflected from looks that we love
When we see them reflected from looks that we love

Sweet vale of Avoca! How calm could I rest
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace

Advertisements

About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
This entry was posted in Europe, Ireland, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Meeting of the Waters

  1. lexklein says:

    Maybe I have a lack of unity on the mind these days as the world seems to want to divide itself up more and more each day, but maybe we can all take a lesson from the rivers!

  2. Beautiful narrative, lovely flow of cohesion and of course the pics ! Love this

  3. Pickleope says:

    That’s so cool. I love that they left the remains of the old Moore Tree by the new sapling. As usual, your stories really bring to life the striking images you post. Love the foxgloves. Amazing.

    • ailsapm says:

      It was pretty cool to imagine old Thomas Moore scribbling away under that very tree. A lovely place to stop and catch your breath before continuing on your travels. 🙂

  4. What a beautiful spot for reflection! I can see why it was (and is, I’m sure) inspiring.

    janet

  5. Pam says:

    A very informative, well written post. Lovely pictures.

  6. aj vosse says:

    I think a wee cottage somewhere in The Vale will be for me! Pity I wasn’t one of the bus drivers! 😉

  7. Jill says:

    Beautiful photos and a lovely story. I loved the poem. I enjoyed this post very much.

  8. Fine post and a lovely poem! Thanks for the story and the pics.

Comments are closed.