This week I was rushing around the country again, first to a weekend workshop in Clare, which was a great experience, but it was a few miles from the sea and we spent the whole weekend tucked away in the countryside, working. When I left I decided to hit the coast. But once again, I found myself as unimpressed by Clare’s coast as I am by the rest of the county. It quite bemuses me that people rate it as a destination. I suppose there are some good views from the Cliffs of Moher though there’s too much tourist, car park and interpretative centre for me – and if you’re a surfer, Aileens and other places are quite beautiful to surf, at least judging from Mickey Smith’s filmwork. But for land based stuff…meh. So I got as far as Spanish Point – so exotic sounding I actually thought I hadn’t been there before. I imagined standing like a lady pirate, windswept, on a high headland, weeping for my lover, a dashing survivor of the Armada, whom I had to kill as he was drawing attention to my piratey behaviour…but its just another scrubby beach that had slipped my mind. Sorry Clare – the only good thing about you is your name.
I headed north to Connemara then, because really, once you navigate the trauma of the N24 as far as Limerick, its best to get as many visits in as possible. Connemara beaches are my favourite , though the much vaunted Roundstone leaves me cold – alright, I’m picky, sue me – so I travelled through it in order to visit a coral beach I am fond of. The tide was in and the weather grey and blustery so the white sand and turquoise sea was not much in evidence but I went for a brief walk on it anyway and the magic struck again. I don’t know if its the tiny pieces of coral, washed in from far tropical places on the north atlantic current, the shells, or the pink, red and black rock, scored by time’s passing, all vibrant even in dull light but even the little bit of rubbish – two oranges lying in the sea weed some distance apart and further up two cartons of Tropicana orange juice – seemed to tell a story. What story it was I still haven’t imagined. I looked for signs of life or death, but the only other creature I saw was an unfortunate Portuguese man o’ war tangled in the seaweed. These beautifully blue/pink, gas filled, bladder like creatures are siphonophores – often mistakenly identified as jellyfish – travel at the mercy of the sea and wind, trailing their deadly, prussian blue tentacles. They can be lethal even to humans and better not touched even in death.
Later, I travelled on, deeper into Galway, towards other favourite beaches which will remain nameless. At the end of the line my artist friend, not seen for a number of years, had set up a bakery. Heaven is here.