01 January 2011

The first beach walk of the New Year

Fading lights on the beach at Bettystown, Co Meath, this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

I started the year as I mean to continue it ... I had my first walk on a beach for 2011 this afternoon, with a long walk on the beach that stretches from Mornington to Laytown in Co Meath.

The tide was out, and I’m almost tempted to say you could notice the “grand stretch in the evening.”

I walked out on the road towards Mornington first to take some photographs of a pair of thatched cottages on the edges of Bettystown ... the last two in a terrace of houses that appear to have been built in the 19th century for local fishermen.

Thatched cottages on the edges of Bettystown and Mornington, seen from the sand dunes behind the golf-links (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

I crossed the sand-dunes behind the golf links down to the beach. It was late afternoon, but it was still bright for this time of the year, and the tide was out.

As I gazed in delight at the flat sand stretching out east towards the Irish Sea for the east for a vast distance, I remembered how I enjoyed this beach so much as a child during long summer holidays in the early 1960s.

I was surprised the see so many people walking the beach ... obviously a lot of people have made New Year resolutions about losing wet, getting fitter and reducing cholesterol levels. There was a good number of dogs on the beach too, and one lone kite flyer.

The day was dry, the remaining sunlight was picking out patches of water the full length of the beach, and I knew this walk was going to make me feel better about living iwth sarcoidosis – even if it did nothing to alleviate the symptoms, it would make me feel better mentally and spiritually.

Looking out at the beach at Laytown at the Irish Sea from the grounds of the Church of the Sacred Heart (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

From the golf links, I walked south on the beach as far as the Catholic parish church in Laytown, the Church of the Sacred Heart. This is an attractive work of modern ecclesiastical architecture, a 1970s circular church that has one of the most enchanting locations, looking east out over the sandbanks to the Irish Sea, and view that is punctuated only by a 20-ft cross crowning the dunes.

What a delight it is to find a church that is open for prayer throughout the day.

As I walked back towards Bettystown, the lights were fading, but families were still walking the beach. It was a pity that Relish was closed for New Year’s Day. This restaurant and cafĂ© at Bayview, a few steps south of the Neptune Hotel, is Bettystown’s best-kept secret.

As I headed home, through Julianstown, Gormanston and Balbriggan, there were some strips of light refusing to fade from the sky. It was as if winter really wants to come to an end, and it was a reminder that there are brighter days ahead. And I am determined that for the length of this coming year, even though I have sarcoidosis, sarcoidosis will never have me.

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