Saturday, 21 November 2009

A winter’s afternoon on Skerries beach

November afternoon on Skerries beach (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2009)

Patrick Comerford

Last night was a tough one with my sarcoidosis … cramps in legs and feet, my knees complaining all night, and my chest-cough playing up once again.

With the merciless weather we’ve been having in Ireland for most of this week, I wondered this morning whether I would ever be able manage my weekly walk on a beach. Certainly, I was happy that I had decided to go to Galway at the end of last week, instead of this week. With all the floods in East Galway, I would never have got there … or back.

I had enjoyed my walk on the beach in Spiddal last Saturday. But it was raining heavily this morning, and there were high winds.

And then, early in the afternoon, a break came in the clouds, and it was possible to see the sky and to get a glimpse of sunlight.

The M50 means I live only 40 minutes from Skerries, and so in the early afternoon I headed off to north Co Dublin and to one of my favourite coastal towns.

The winds and waves were rough on the Skerries Rocks and the sea was swelling (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2009)

The winds and waves were rough on the Skerries Rocks and the sea was swelling. But I had a good walk along the rocks, up around the Martello Tower and down onto the beach.

It is amazing how, even in the winter, so many appreciate the beauty of our coastline. As darkness closed in on the beach, I skipped into Gerry’s on Strand Street for The Guardian and to pick from their delightful – and slightly eccentric – selection of wines … a bottle of Masi Campofiorin Doppia Ferementazione Ripasso (double fermentation Ripasso) and a bottle of Pirovano Montepulciano d’Abruzzio … as well as some Goats’ Cheese and Greek salad, and a copy of Skerries News.

Skerries News is an interesting and innovative monthly newspaper. The November issue includes ‘Backbreak and bleeding fingers,’ a heart-breaking two-page report on Bégumes (Tide), the award-winning documentary film about Latvian periwinkle pickers working on the shores around Skerries.

A few years ago, 13 stranded periwinkle pickers had to be rescued from Colt Island in Skerries by the lifeboats late at night after being abandoned by a shellfish wholesaler who had dropped them off earlier.

There is also a charming, illustrated report by Margaret Davidson on the refurbishment of Saint Patrick’s Church in Holmpatrcik. The Church of Ireland parish church in Skerries had a makeover and transformation that was complete just in time for last month’s Harvest Festival.

Outside Gerry’s on Strand Street I bumped into local TD Dr James Reilly, the Fine Gael spokesman on health, who was three years behind me at school in Gormanston. What a good job he would make of being Health Minister … although, given the track record and decision-making of present minister, it wouldn’t be hard to do better.

Across the street I dallied for a while in the Olive – one of my favourite coffee shops, with a shared antipasto plate and a double espresso, before heading back up along the harbour.

It was dark by now, and the rain was beginning to fall. But it had been a refreshing afternoon. I may have sarcoidosis, but the beach at Skerries reminded me once again that sarcoidosis does not have me.

Skerries News is at: www.skerriesnews.ie