Saturday, 2 September 2017

Oysters and Guinness

An Irish delicacy - well recommended.

I grew up about 100 metres from the Broadmeadow estuary in Malahide, and I can still remember the remnants of a fishing village before the town expanded in the 80's and became the wealthy coastal village it is today with bustling marina, upgraded international cricket ground and other new additions.

Be not sparing, leave off swearing,
Buy my herring, buy my herring, buy my herring,
Fresh from Malahide, better ne'er was try'd.
Come eat 'em with pure fresh butter and mustard,
Their bellies are soft and white as custard,
Come, sixpence a dozen to get me some bread,
Or like my own herrings I too shall be dead.

Supposedly by Dean Swift, 1746

The estuary is a beautiful feature, with a number of wildlife sanctuaries around it. I never set foot in it until I was in my 20's when I rented a small sailboat for an hour. No-one in Malahide does, it is just for watersports - if you want to swim, you go to the beach on the far side of town or else a bit further afield to Portmarnock. I never understood why and still don't, even on the hottest of days.

But I was looking at an old map recently and I see that the estuary was once used for far more than watersports - there were a number of Oyster beds. I couldn't find the map last night - I was almost sure it was the 6" or 25" mapping on OSi map viewer but it does not have the map I am looking for. I did find an interesting page from the historical society discussing the effect the railway had on the oyster fisheries - the owner "was very favourably circumstanced till the railway was made, but the mud is since increasing." This page helped me track down the map in question - it was the Rocque map of 1760 which I cannot find in digital form online.

What had reminded me of this map was an interesting usecase of Landsat 8 imagery for identifying optimum sites for oyster beds in Maine - using Landsat 8 to calculate thermal properties of an area, turbidity and chlorophyll a, they could deduce where they could grow rapidly.

It would be an interesting study to see how the Broadmeadow estuary fares now - almost 200 hundred years since the railway was built - because the Guinness in Malahide is still great.

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About Me

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My name is Conor. I am a Lecturer at the Department of Geography at Maynooth University. These few lines will (hopefully) chart my progress through academia and the world of research.