In the new EastEnders spin-off Redwater, Kat and Alfie Moon pitch up in a seaside village in Ireland where Jessie Wallace’s Kat hopes to track down the son she gave up for adoption 33 years earlier. But this close-knit community has secrets of its own and events soon take a sinister turn.
The six-part drama was filmed in Dunmore East, a fishing village in County Waterford with a lovely beach, a little harbour and sheltered coves. Ireland’s south-east coast is beloved by Dubliners looking for some sea air, but it’s often overlooked by Brits, who tend to make a beeline for the rugged west coast. That’s a shame, because there’s plenty to do in the “sunny South East” – as it’s called by the Irish – and there’s something rather magical about Dunmore East in particular.
Within ten minutes of arriving in the village, I’m tucking into fresh hake and potatoes dauphinoise at the Strand Inn, drinking in the view of sand, sea and endless sky. Renamed “Peter Dolan’s” in Redwater, the Strand is a friendly, unfussy hotel with a popular pub and restaurant overlooking a sandy beach framed by red cliffs. The owner, who is in her 60s, swims every day.
The Strand Inn and Lawlor's Beach
Across the bay is County Wexford and the 13th-century Hook Head Lighthouse, the oldest operational lighthouse in the world (you can take a guided tour). Locals believe the phrase “by hook or by crook” dates back to 1649, when Oliver Cromwell resolved to invade Ireland by Hook Head or the nearby village of Crooke (although some historians dispute it). The lush headland opposite belongs to Dunmore East Golf Club, which boasts spectacular sea views.
Mary and Martin Tritschler volunteer to show me round the village. Mary is an artist and Martin an architect and they have holidayed here all their lives. They moved to Dunmore East five years ago, but even so they’re still considered “blow-ins”.
“Everyone who comes on holiday here always comes back. It’s addictive,” Mary explains, as we walk to Ladies Cove, named for the nuns who used to bathe and enjoy a spot of shrimping here. Crystal-clear water laps the pebbles. It’s only spring, but I’m regretting not packing a swimming costume. Our next stop is the harbour, which is noisy with the cries of kittiwakes nesting on the cliffs. Before EU quotas were introduced in the 70s, it’s said you could walk from one end of the harbour to the other on boats piled high with herring. Nowadays there’s a sailing school and an adventure sports centre where you do kayaking, windsurfing and caving.
Shane Richie and his onscreen son wish they'd taken the path in Redwater
It takes only ten minutes to walk across the village, but the Tritschlers’ tour takes two hours by the time we’ve said hello to everyone we meet and stopped for a pint at Power’s Bar, a cosy pub stuffed with seafaring artefacts, which everyone calls “Bill the Butcher’s” – a throwback to the war years when the owner also sold groceries and Guinness to fishermen.
The next day I walk west along the cliff path and have the panoramic views all to myself. After filming here for two months, Shane Richie, who plays Alfie, was so taken with Dunmore East he plans to buy a house here, and it’s easy to see why.
Afterwards I dine on John Dory and risotto at the village’s family-run Italian restaurant Azzurro, and ask a fellow diner if he’ll be tuning in to Redwater. “As long as it’s not diddly-diddly, or they should never show their faces in this village again,” he says, eyes twinkling. “It’s not like Broadchurch round here… We just push people off cliffs.” He is, of course, joking.
Where to go in Waterford
The House of Waterford Crystal and the Viking Triangle
At the Waterford Crystal factory you can see the famous crystal blown and cut, while the treasures in the Medieval Museum include a whalebone hat belonging to Henry VIII. For a wonderfully wry take on the Viking history of Waterford – Ireland's oldest city – try Jack Burtchaell's twice-daily walking tours. jackswalkingtours.com
This new 46km off-road walking and cycling route follows an old railway line from Waterford to Dungarvan, a pretty fishing town, via lush scenery, three viaducts and a spookily lit 400m tunnel.
This range is only a short drive from the coast and has plenty of well-marked trails taking in dramatic valleys, waterfalls and corries.
For more information, go to visitwaterford.com and discoverdunmore.com
Radio Times Travel holidays
Waterford, Wexford and the Garden of Ireland tour, 5 nights from £549pp. Based in the charming riverside town of Enniscorthy, this six-day break offers a fascinating insight into this lovely and varied part of Ireland. See the dramatic landscapes of the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough, watch skilled craftsmen at work at the Waterford Crystal factory and discover the stories of the Great Famine and the American Migration. Click here for the full itinerary and to book
Visit radiotimes.com/ireland for our collection of short breaks