19 May 2013

The enticing promises of Summer

A long stretch of sand in the sunshine in Laytown, Co Meath, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

The Day of Pentecost brought in the warm glow of the fire of the Holy Spirit, and it brought with it warm sunshine too.

After a full morning, with a teaching Eucharist for the Day of Pentecost, and a service of healing and anointing, two of us headed through the city centre and north through Gormanston and Julianstown to Laytown, where we parked the car looking out onto the beach and the sea.

A thatched cottage at the southern end of the beach in Laytown (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

The tide was out, the clouds were blue, and although we ought to have had warmer weather for the past few weeks, this is the first day I remember in this year that temperatures in this part of Ireland rose into the high teens and almost reached 20.

Church and cross on the sandbanks above the beach at Laytown (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

We walked north along the beach, past the church and cross that are dramatically perched on the sandbanks above the coast, as far as Bettystown, where outflows of effluent and waste are doing untold damage to the beach. Here and there, there are seething and smelly bubbling spots. It leaves you wondering what is rising to the surface, what is brought out into the water, and wondering what remains in the sand.

Along some parts of the beach at Bettystown, the sand is polluted and discoloured (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

In one stretch of beach, the sand is discoloured by stains of green and orange left behind by the receding tide.

Meath County Council needs to move quickly before this attractive, sandy beach becomes not just an eyesore but a health hazard. Meath has a very short coastline, and boasts that this stretch of fine sand from Laytown through Bettystown to Mornington is the Gold Coast of Ireland. But the gold is burnished, and by the time summer arrives one wonders what colours are going to drift across the sands.

And while Meath County Council is at it, it could do something more to conserve and enhance this beautiful resource by banning cars from driving onto the beach. That alone would remove some of the oil and waste, andreduce the hazards to children too, making this a safer, quieter and more pleasant place.

A bicycle made for two ... on the beach below Relish in Bettystown, Co Meath, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

None of this, however, could take away from the pleasure of a late lunch in Relish, looking out across the sand-dunes and sand-banks to the beach and to the sea as we enjoyed the food and the friendly service.

Looking down to the beach at Bettystown from the terrace behind Relish (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

The sun was still shining when we finished our delightful lunch, and we stepped down onto the beach once again, walking back closer the shoreline to Laytown.

Reflecting on life and reflections on the beach at Laytown this afternoon (Photograph: Barbara Comerford, 2013)

From Julianstown and Gormanston, we drove along the coast road to Balbriggan and further south to Skerries. Sadly a few more restaurants and shops have closed in Skerries in recent months, but the warm sunshine filled the harbour area with an overflow of people enjoying the bars and the joys of this summer-like afternoon.

The harbour at Skerries in this afternoon’s warm sunshine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

As we headed south through Rush, in the late evening, they were still playing cricket at Kenure.

Sunshine on the sand, Sunday cricket, beach walks, lunch in Relish, the harbour at Skerries ... the promises of Summer are enticing. And the weather forecasts say this warm spell of sunshine is to continue well into the week ahead.

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