248 pages, colour photos, colour maps
This book describes a relatively small part (approximately 19 square kilometres) of the coastal features of southeast Ireland, namely the coastal cliffs, the Bay, dunes and the Backstrand at Tramore, in county Waterford.
Tramore Bay is an almost rectangular basin with around 1,000 hectares of water between the cliffs on either side. On its landward side, the five kilometre beach runs almost the length of the inner Bay. This superb beach, for which the resort is deservedly well known, has around 100 hectares of sand available for recreation at low tide, and is up to 300 metres wide in places at this time of tide. The beach is backed by high clay cliffs on its northwestern side and eastwards from here there are three distinct seawalls, a shingle embankment almost 1,700 metres long, and nationally important dunes form a bulbous spit at the eastern end of the embankment. These dunes reach a maximum height of 26 metres and are up to 550 metres wide in places but are only around 60 metres at the narrowest part (the 'neck'), where the dunes join the embankment; from the 'neck' eastwards the dunes encompass an area of around 56 hectares. Rinnashark channel drains an extensive lagoon formed inside the embankment and dunes (known locally as the Backstrand) and a smaller dune system at Saleen frames the eastern side of the Bay. The Backstrand completely fills at high water through Rinnashark channel but is almost completely drained at low tide exposing some 500 hectares of sand and mud. Three small rivers drain into the Backstrand: the Keiloge flows into Clohernagh inlet; the Glendudda into Kilmacleague; and the smallest, unnamed, enters at the northwestern corner at Ballinattin.
The primary aim of A Guide to Tramore Bay, Dunes and Backstrand is to facilitate those with an interest in the natural features and the wildlife of Tramore Bay, beach, dunes and Backstrand. The origins and geomorphology of the area is described and factors like wind and waves that have shaped the varied natural features are presented. Man has had a profound influence since he first arrived 7,000 years ago and while only a little is known of what effects early man had on the area, the human impacts of more recent centuries are well documented and these are outlined as they relate to the natural features. There is a comprehensive description of the flora and the fauna, and while A Guide to Tramore Bay, Dunes and Backstrand is not a natural history, many of the more obvious elements are referred to. Where the land and the sea meet there are always conflicts and these are compounded or even exacerbated by human presence; threats to the Tramore area are detailed, while the importance of the natural features and wildlife interest in a national and international context are discussed. Finally, some pertinent issues are raised in relation to the likely response of the natural systems at Tramore to future and inevitable environmental change.
In some respects A Guide to Tramore Bay, Dunes and Backstrand describes the present state of the Tramore environment against which future changes can be assessed and compared. Consequently future generations will judge how well we have cared for their inheritance. An understanding of the natural features of the Tramore area is fundamental to the enjoyment of the many attractions that are present and this enjoyment and understanding may help in the long-term preservation of what is, uniquely, a special environment worthy of care and attention.
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