Swim On, Maisie

Swim On, Maisie; in your wake we follow.


Access the Swim On, Maisie soundscape here:


Maisie’s Story

Swim On, Maisie is inspired by the story of Maisie Bishop, the first known woman to swim from Brownstown Head to The Metal Man, on 7th September 1931. It also celebrates the female experience of swimming in Tramore Bay, marking how women like Maisie paved the way for others to move with more freedom in these waters.

Maisie grew up in Tramore, living on Strand Street. Her family owned a confectioner’s beside what is now O’Shea’s Hotel. A newspaper article from 1931 states that Maisie always wanted to swim the bay as she loved swimming and took every opportunity of improving since she was seven years old. When asked if anyone had succeeded in swimming the bay before, Maisie replied ‘I don’t think so, but there are plenty of other girls in Tramore who are very good swimmers and who would doubtless succeed if they tried’.

A great picture of Maisie Bishop on the day she swam from Brownstown Head to The Metal Man. This picture was taken at Tramore beach. You can see her handwriting beside it, outlining the details of her swim.

See the 1931 article from The News and Star written about Maisie’s swim here:



In 2023 Maisie’s granddaughter and arts producer Elizabeth Howard secured a Creative Waterford Open Call Grant to work with composer Joe Harney to create a soundscape that interprets Maisie’s story. As plans for the project progressed, it became clear that Maisie’s story reflected the collective experience women have had of swimming in Tramore Bay. The team worked towards developing this aspect within the final creative outcome. A plaque dedicated to Maisie and this project can be found on the cliff top at the Guillamene, Tramore.

Learning Resources

Elizabeth and Joe will create some learning resources for primary school children based on based on sound design and storytelling. Illustrated by Maisie’s great-grandson Oliver Harries, these resources will be distributed to local primary schools and available to download from this site in October 2023.

Focus Groups

With the funding from Creative Waterford, Elizabeth also held some focus groups with the Tramore community. These focus groups aimed to uncover other untold experiences and stories of Tramore, and investigate what a possible art trail for the town would look like if it were to tell these stories in a creative way.

Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth Howard was brought up in Tramore where she enjoyed singing and acting as a child and teenager. In recent years Elizabeth has developed work as a community arts producer, drawing out aspects of identity through genres such as film, sound, visual art, pantomime, site-specific performance, and performance art. Growing up, the story of Maisie swimming Tramore Bay was always told as family folklore, and Elizabeth was delighted to receive a grant from Creative Waterford to celebrate the story with the wider Tramore community. Elizabeth has found it extremely enjoyable and rewarding working with and getting to know new people on this venture, and looks forward to the future of public art in the town.

Joe Harney

Joe Harney is a Waterford native currently living in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has released folk and electronic music under the name Deaf Joe for many years, collaborated with various Irish musical acts, and previously worked producing music for various South East theatre and dance productions. At present, he is also completing training to be a psychotherapist. A big interest in music and sound for Joe is the emotional weight of people’s memories and old family stories, so this project documenting some of Tramore’s female history has been a good fit. Joe himself has spent many happy years swimming in the bay, under the soft shadow of his grandparents who themselves courted on the Doneraile when young.

“The opportunity to work on this composition honouring Maisie Bishop and the current Tramore community of female swimmers has been a total joy, and I hope the music and the energy captures some of the glorious spirit of the bay and the people that swim there.”

Thanks to

  • The Howard Family for giving your time, taking on all the duties and getting behind the project with such gusto!
  • The Berry Family for being amazingly supportive and travelling from England to celebrate the launch, and to Ollie (Harris) for illustrating the learning resources;
  • The Vetty Power Family for a ‘no problem’ attitude;
  • Newtown and Guillamene Swimming Club for ongoing support and enthusiasm for the project;
  • Cast It (Conor, Brendan and Seanie) for making the gorgeous plaque and installing it with great skill;
  • Agata Surgot for designing clever and attractive graphics;
  • Loretta Kinsella at Tramore Library for saying yes to everything!;
  • The Coastguard Cultural Centre for its interest and zeal;
  • Claire Musgrave for her kindness and generosity, and sharing her sweet singing voice at the launch;
  • Damien Keogh for accompanying Claire at the launch with masterful expertise;
  • Paul Brent for being an amazing fountain of knowledge and going the extra mile to source some difficult-to-find information;
  • Charlie at the GAA for his help and assistance with the focus group;
  • Joan Crowley and all at the Protestant Church Hall for providing and maintaining such an inspiring community space;
  • Jean Rush, Caroline Condon and all at Glor Na Mara Primary School for enabling a focus group with 5th class pupils;
  • Emily Campbell at Ard Scoil na Mara for making it easy to hold a focus group with Transition Year students;
  • All attendees of the community focus groups for sharing such valuable opinions;
  • All interviewees for giving your time so thoughtfully: Eilin Barrett; Catriona Bent; Maura Coady; Marie Cullen; Mairead Collins; Abigail Deegan; Moira Grace; Molly Hennessy; Stella Hennessy; Susan Jacob; Mary Murray; Rose Murphy; Claire Musgrave; Mairead Nugent; Margaret O’Brien-Moran; Lesley O’Connor; Fionuala O’Shea; Angela Prunty; Collette Quinlan; Dolores Swift.
  • The Tramore community.

For more on Elizabeth’s projects, please follow The Fresh Producer on Instagram.

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