Saturday, 19 December 2015

Dusk turns to dark on
the beach at Bettystown

Walking on the beach after dusk has turned to dark in Bettystown, Co Meath (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

Despite the heavy rains and strong winds, the temperatures each day seem to be defying all expectations at winter. But the days are still closing in early and darkness seems to fall soon after lunchtime.

In the midst of all the bustle and the rush surrounding the preparations for Christmas, two of us abandoned all this flurry early this afternoon and went for walks by the the banks of the River Nanny in Laytown, and walks on the beaches in Laytown and Bettystown on the east Meath coast, about 50 km north of Dublin.

An afternoon walk by the banks of the River Nanny in Laytown (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The River Nanny flows from Julianstown into the sea at Laytown, where the mouth of the river forms a tidal estuary. The fish in the river at the estuary include mullet, trout, eels, gobies and flounder, but no salmon – according to local folklore, Saint Patrick banished all the salmon from the river.

I have been told that close to the river there is a spring known as Saint Patrick’s Well, but the path to it is overgrown and I did not find the well this afternoon. Indeed, the river bank where I found my way down to the estuary was scattered sadly with builder’s rubble and rubbish.

On the beach in Laytown in the dimming lights of mid-afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Further east, I had a short walk on the beach at Laytown in the dimming lights at mid-afternoon. There were few walkers on the beach, and it was a short moment of calm as I watched the tide coming in.

At one stage, the temperature outside reached 16, although the high winds and clouds overhead made it difficult to feel that this was anything other than deep winter. When he was managing the Hedgehog in Lichfield, Ron Brazier used to say he knew when the Spring temperatures had reached 16 because people would then take their drinks and sit outdoors.

Later, after a short walk on the beach further north at Bettystown, two of us were given a table at one of the two bay windows in Relish, looking out over the sandbanks out to the sea, and down onto the high waves of the high tide.

As daylight turned to dusk and then to dark, and the lights went on in Relish, there was a cosy, comfortable Christmas feeling in the restaurant, safe against the dark and the sea.

Back down on the beach in Bettystown later, the tide was almost completely in, but there were still two people walking with their dogs along the shore where the sea met the sand.

From Monday on, the evenings begin to lengthen again. Hopefully, the short break at Christmas and the New Year will allow time for more walks by river banks and by the sea.

Late afternoon on the beach in Bettystown (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

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