BEACH

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Has anyone been watching Wild Ireland? Colin Stafford-Johnson’s trip up the west coast of Ireland in a currach was an enthralling masterpiece- and it resonated particularly closely as I was still going through pictures from our brief trip to Connemara at the beginning of March. Like him, we wandered from forest to mountain to coast, and while it may not have been the season for basking sharks or the dawn chorus at its peak, it was still a landscape that nourished the soul.

If you catch them on a clear day, Connemara’s beaches are utterly mesmerising. Clear turquoise waters lap gently upon white sands, in a scene fitting a Caribbean idyll before you look up, see the sheep and rocky outcrops surrounding the beach, and remember that this is Europe; albeit the very edge of it. On our last morning, we made our way round the coast; stopping at Dog’s Bay, Aillebrack Beach and the maerl sands of Mannin Bay. The previous day’s weather had caused a small wreck of by-the-wind-sailors- a delicate sort of hydrozoan with clear ‘sail’ on a deep blue base. They were much smaller than I expected them to be- really cute- and I liked the thought that there were thousands more casually drifting around on the surface of the sea. Perhaps the most surprising find of all, however, was a whale carcass- now mostly just bone, though if the wind blew in the right direction there was still a distinct whiff about it. Each rib was as long as one of my legs, and the vertebrae were thick-set and heavy. It turns out seeing whale skeletons hanging high up from the ceilings of museums was diminishing my appreciation of how big they really are; it was quite amazing to be able to see the bones up close.

Two and a half hours later, back in the hustle and bustle of Dublin, it all felt like a million miles away.

I cannot wait to go back.

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