On The Fringe

Listen back: A Blue Plaque will be unveiled on International Women's Day, for the Cockle Women of Waterford

Listen back: A Blue Plaque will be unveiled on International Women's Day, for the Cockle Women of Waterford
Cockle Women of Waterford remembered on International Women's Day

The Cockle Women will be remembered in the unveiling a plaque on Arundel Lane, in the presence of the Mayor and musicians


The event is happening on Arundel Lane at 11am on Friday March 8th. It's being organised by the National Collective of Community Based Women's Networks, in assocation with Waterford Civic Trust.

Exhibition at Central Library

In addition, an exhibition about the Cockle Women, containing rare photographs, will run at Central Library on Lady Lane until the end of March.  Organisers say this is not to be missed, as these pictures were very hard to source, and many have never been seen before. You'll find more details here.

When did cockle picking take place?

There's evidence that cockles were picked and sold in Waterford from at least as early as the 1870s, which is when records began. The tradition died out in the 1970s. It was done almost entirely by women, and those who took part in this trade were known as 'Women of Steel' because of the extremely strenuous work involved, often in terrible and dangerous conditions. The cockles were picked, boiled, then prepared for sale. They were sourced on many beaches around the County, and sold in the City. Cockle picking was often done out of necessity, as a lot of the women were widowed, and trying to rear large families at the same time.

Descendants of the Cockle Women

Breda Murphy's grandmother and aunt, Ellie Murphy and Mollie Murphy respectively, picked cockles in Passage East and sold them on the streets of Waterford in the 1970s. Tony Robinson and Maura Power, brother and sister, fondly recall "Nana," their grandmother, who sold pickles in Waterford City.
Breda (one of the organisers) joined Tony and Maura in studio, where they spoke to me "On the Fringe" about the old tradition of cockle picking, as well as about the unveiling of the Blue Plaque on Arundel Lane.
If  you like the human stories we cover on WLR, have a listen here to Damien's interview on Deise Today with breast cancer survivor Angela Dobbs.
And below is the story of the Cockle Women..