The “Copper Coast” is the name given to the coastal portion of Waterford County stretching from Tramore in the east to Dungarvan in the west. This region has a remarkable geological interest that has earned it its classification as a geopark. It takes its name from copper, which was mined in the 19th century and of which some remains can still be seen today along the coast. In addition to its geological interest, it offers a succession of cliffs, coves and beaches that will delight lovers of coastal landscapes.
A few kilometres south of Waterford, Tramore is a former fishing village that became one of Ireland’s major seaside resorts after the creation of a railway line linking the village to Waterford in 1853. This colourful and lively village offers many accommodation options (especially B&Bs) and a wide choice of pubs and restaurants, a good base for those who want to stay a few days and visit the region. To book a B&B or a hotel in the city, visit FindHotel, you’ll find the best deals and compare the accomodation easily.
To see in Tramore:
- On the waterfront you will find the most unpleasant ingredients of a “British-style” seaside resort: arcade games, carnival, ice cream parlours, pubs, fish & chips (although for good pubs and restaurants we prefer to go up to the city centre),… Fortunately the walk built in 1914 along the beach (blue flag) is much more pleasant. It is extended by Back Strand, a long dune ridge with a wide fine sandy beach on the sea side and a lagoon on the land side, and is highly recommended for walks in the middle of the dunes in a surprising landscape of sand mountains!
- To the west of the city, Guillamene Cove has a ramp and stairs that provide access to water for swimming without slipping on the rocks. A sign at the top of the ramp indicates that swimming was once reserved for men, with women having to swim in Newtown Cove right next door! But fortunately today women are allowed to swim in Guillamene Cove!
- At the western tip of Tramore Bay, a statue at the top of a pillar dominates the cliffs. It represents a character pointing to the sea: Metal Man. This statue was erected in 1823 by an insurance company, Lloyd’s of London, following the tragic sinking of the Sea Horse in 1816, which killed 363 people. The statue actually indicates the shoals that caused the sinking. Two pillars complete the one supporting the statue, while two other pillars stand on Brownstown Head, on the other side of Tramore Bay, and the foot of Metal Man can be reached by taking a coastal path starting near the small cove of Guillamene, enjoying beautiful views of Tramore Bay.
The Copper Coast Geopark
Between Tramore and Dungarvan, on both sides of Bunmahon, Copper Coast Geopark is an area of outstanding geological interest that earned it its inclusion on the UNESCO Geoparks List in 2004. The rocks of the geopark retrace a 460 million year old geological history, volcanoes, glaciers, oceans, deserts,… An open-air museum on the geological history of the Earth that will delight enthusiasts of this science! Thanks to its geological past, the region is rich in minerals: lead, silver but above all copper, which was exploited in the 19th century and gave its name to the coast (“copper” means “copper” in English). Remains of this exploitation are still visible today. The best known are those of the former Tankardstown mine, which employed up to 1,200 people between 1850 and 1880. These ruins cannot be missed along the R765 one kilometre east of Bunmahon. Panels explain the history and operation of the mines. Located in a former church in Bunmahon, the main city of the geopark, the Copper Coast Geopark Centre is dedicated to the geology of the region and its mining history.
But the Copper Coast is mainly wild landscapes, a succession of coves and sandy beaches or pebbles framed by cliffs. Beaches that can be discovered by taking the small roads that go down to the sea from the R765 that crosses the region. You can also walk on the hiking trails that allow you to discover hidden coves. Among the most beautiful beaches, from east to west: Graigue Little, Kilfarrasy, Annestwon, Bunmhaon (protected by dunes and famous for surfing) or Ballydowan Cove. Near the tip of Dunabrattin, the small port of Ballylane East, nestled at the foot of the cliffs, is not lacking in charm.
Dungarvan, Dún Garbháin in Gaelic, is a small seaside resort of 9,000 inhabitants that developed west of the mouth of the Colligan River. At the end of Davitts Quay remain the ruins of King John’s Castle, a fortified castle built in 1185 when the city was founded by the Anglo-Normans, and you can continue on to Quay Street from where you can enjoy beautiful views of Dungarvan Bay. The city is not lacking in charm with its colourful houses and is home to restaurants and musical pubs that enjoy a good reputation. On the other side of the Colligan, the Abbeyside church has a 13th century tower, a remnant of an Augustinian monastery. South-east of Dungarvan, the Ring (“An Rinn”) is a peninsula that closes off Dungarvan Bay. It is the only Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) on the south coast of Ireland. Nearly 50% of the population speaks Gaelic daily! At the tip of the peninsula, Helvick Head offers a beautiful view of the bay. A 7-kilometre trail allows you to discover the tip while walking.