The Metal Man
As you drive out towards Newtown in Tramore, you can not help noticing the three high concrete pillars standing in a field. Standing on the centre one of them there is a figure known as the "Metal Man".These were erected as a warning to boats and ships coming into Tramore's shallow waters, warning them to keep out from the dangerous rocks. The rhyme that is known to come from the man who stands on one of the pillars goes as follows- "Keep out, keep out, good ships from me, for I am the rock of misery."
He is said to chant this on stormy nights. But of course, this is but a legend. "The Metal Man" was built in 1823 and is still standing strong today. The first owners were "Lloyds of London" an insurance company, who held it for over a hundred years and then when the wars raged in Europe, the Irish Lights in Dublin took over ownership. The "Metal Man" was erected after the dreadful tragedy of the Seahorse which with over 360 people on board went down in Tramore Bay. This tragedy happened in 1816.
On the opposite side of the bay, two pillars were erected on the headland called "Brownstown Head". The Metal Man is said to be fourteen feet high but some say is between eight and nine feet high. He is thought to be the work of Thomas Kirk who is also believed to have carved the statue of Lord Nelson, which used to stand in O'Connell Street in Dublin. Thomas Kirk was born in Cork in 1781 and carved the statue of Nelson in 1808. He died in 1845. The pillars are said to be sixty feet in height and sixty feet in diameter.
Every three years the County Council sends out men to paint the figure that wears a blue jacket, white trousers and red T-shirt. I would not like to have to climb up such a height in case I fell off. At the moment the columns stand on private land but the local authorities are talking about opening up the site as a tourist attraction to reap the benefit of this unique attraction in our town. There is also a cousin of his in Strand hill, County Sligo. In the olden days, horses were used to hoist up the ladders, but nowadays, revolving ladders are used.
Under the headland there are two caves, "The Cathaoir" or "The Metal Man's Chair" is one and the other is "The Cave of Birds', which holds many interesting birds.
If you live or have been on the Coast Road you will notice at neap tide the rock at the foot of "Brownstown Head" can be seen clearly, but at high tide the water will cover them. This is the way the young of the area can tell when it is safe to go swimming in the 'Cove' nearby. At another entrance to the "Metal Man at Newtown Cove," on the top of the cliff opposite the car park, there is a sign which says- "Keep to path." This is sensible advice, as to stray from that path means to wander down by the cliff which is extremely dangerous. When you follow this path you come up to the pillars quite easily and safely. But if you have a fear of heights it is better to admire the view from the road, for it is rather dangerous walking along by the cliff.
Another entrance to the "Metal Man" is by a path from the road. But the owner of the field has had to put up a sing warning that "Trespassers will be prosecuted" and so he has barred up the gate with "sceachs" and "barbed wire," to prevent casual trippers from trespassing his land, upsetting his cattle and littering his land which can cause injuries to the cattle from broken glass bottles. There is a saying that if a woman hop bare-footed all around the centre pillar three times, she will be married within the year (that is, of course if one is marriageable age and nifty on the feet!)
The people of Tramore cherish the "Metal Man" as a historical monument and the business people cherish it because it is one of the main attractions of the resort, which every Summer echoes to the merry making sounds of fun loving tourists. It would be a good move if they opened up the site so everybody could enjoy this special tourist atraction.
Long may he reign over our rocky coast!
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