The Sea And The Shore

  By Patrick O`Sullivan

A GLORIOUSLY autumnal day as we headed westwards to Camp According to King’s history of Kerry the name Camp means fortress in English, Kilgobban being the name of the parish. 

In summer, the orange of montbretia ripples in waves by the wayside, the sun ever and always tossing showers of light among them, so that seem more and more beautiful still. Then too the purple of loosestrife is seen, the purple spires making great shows of their own at the verge.

Summer had long since gone, but the sun was still in a jubilant mood as we took the high road to Camp, the gradient of the road growing ever steeper. The fires of the fuchsia were still blazing in the hedges that seemed to run on for miles and miles. 

It was almost as if someone had painted their waxy red brilliance there, painted it in the broadest, the boldest of strokes, the vividness, the intensity of it more and more wonderful still. At any rate, it would be hard to imagine the place without it. 

The peaks of Caherconree and Maumnahaltora added to the grandeur of the setting, the heathery glens beneath them sweeping gracefully down and down again. In some of these glens, the long ravines were dry, completely dry, their steep sides flanking the deep narrow channels. 

I don’t know why, but it made me think the sun might have been disappointed for it would surely have loved to be winking and flashing in the streams on such a glorious day.

We caught sight of not one but two kestrels sweeping over the heathery glens, their sheer magnificence then filling us with delight It was lovely to be watching them, their slender wings outspread, their flight unhurried soaring. Still it was their gliding that intrigued us most of all, everything about it easy and graceful and wild. 

They had a kind of elemental feel to them, as if they were at home, so at home in the air as if every little part of the glen were intimately known to them too. They looked so majestic then, it was easy to imagine that they might have been part of the myths and legends of long ago. 

It was no great wonder then that I began to think of the mythical king. Cu Roi MacCaire who had his home on Cahercom’ee, A fabled traveller Cu Roi was sometimes described as ‘the King of the world’. His fortress, Teamhair Luachra, was no ordinary fortress because no mater where he was in the world Cu Roi chanted a spell over it every evening. Then the fort revolved as swiftly as a millstone. The  entrance was never to be found after sunset’. 

Cu Roi played many different roles in Irish myth. Sometimes Cuchulainu’s helper in battle, he was also his rival and ultimately his victim, It was Cu RoEs wife, Blathnat who poured milk into the stream which ran through the fortress, thus signalling to Cuchulainn that the time was ripe for attack.

As we drove along, we saw old stone walls flanking the wayside, relics of more recent history vivid reminders as they were of the great estates that were such a feature of Irish life in the Victorian era and before. 

We came to the beach at Camp, the sea wild and the blue glittering before us. It was not a uniform blue, however revelling as it did in tints of azure and cobalt and corn-flower too, still heaving and glittering in every part. 

A small white sailboat went by its sail blue and white, the very image of delight, if ever there was one. We took off our shoes for the sand was

wonderfully warm and soft under-foot, every ripple in the tide catching the light so that it seemed more beautiful still. Shells, iridescent, glistened here and there. 

A young American asked about the dogs. Were they Labradors, he wanted to know The dogs themselves running and racing into the tide, bringing back sticks like trophies and dripping with brine. Their zest, their energy their delight, limitless boundless then. 

It was as if they were invigorated in the moment, as if they were determined to make the most of it for as is always the case with them, now was all that mattered. Yesterday gone, tomorrow uncharted, they were glad so glad of the sun and the sea and the shimmering light. 

The handsome Church of Ireland chapel that serves the parish of Kilgobban can be seen from the strand, its elegant tower rising high above the hedges as if reaching for the sky It is a beautiful setting for a church, the music of the sea ever and always close at hand, a music that still has the power of delight on bright autumnal days.

It was lovely, so lovely to walk on the strand for a while, rediscovering as we did the magic of the sea and the shore..


The Magic of Irish Nature

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