Thursday, 12 July 2018

An afternoon walk through
the moonscape created by
the tides on Laytown beach

Reflections on the beach at Laytown, Co Meath, on Wednesday afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

I was in Dublin from early yesterday [11 July 2018] for meetings with politicians and government officials in Leinster House, Kildare Street and Buswell’s Hotel to discuss some matters of concern in Rathkeale.

As I have another hospital procedure this morning, I stayed overnight rather than returning to Co Limerick, and watched the England v Croatia match at home.

But in between those meetings and that match, two of us spent the afternoon in Laytown and Bettystown on the coast of Co Meath, walking the long stretch of sandy beach, and meeting another long-standing friend now living in Julainmstown for a late lunch in Relish Café in Bettystown.

It must be about three months since I was last in Bettystown and Laytown. So, it was wonderful to have an afternoon walk on this beach, despite the fact that the long stretch of summer weather we have been enjoying since returning from Crete last month seems to have been interrupted – at least for the next few days.

We had decided to park the car at Laytown and walk to Bettystown, but work on an interesting project on building much-needed sea defences to shore up the sandy banks at Laytown made it a little confusing initially as we made our way down onto the beach.

Perhaps if Meath County Council is intent on protecting the sand banks and this long stretch of beach, they could also introduce measures to stop people driving their cars onto to sand, a move that would go along way towards restoring this as an attractive beach for walkers and bathers.

The tide was out, adding to sense of a parched landscape that all of us are noting in this spell of dry weather – despite some short rain showers at intervals yesterday.

The cross on the sandbank reflected on the full-height church windows (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

As we walked along the beach in the late afternoon, I noticed an unusual reflection of the cross on the sandbank on the full-height east windows of the church in Laytown.

Below the sand banks, there are still visible traces of entries in the 16th National Sandcastle and Sculpturing Competitions, which took place on the Bettystown-Laytown Beach last Sunday afternoon [8 July 2018].

There were signs of the inevitable castle or octopus, and the occasional fish or mermaid. A crocodile seems to have survived the waves and tides of the days that followed, and one imaginative map of Africa is still leaving its mark on the sand.

The tides have turned the sand sculptures into a moonscape (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

But where the sea has worked its way steadily in the ebb and flow against those creative imaginations, some of the rows of allocated lots look like a moonscape.

The tide was still out as we walked back from Bettystown to Laytown after lunch in Relish, and a number of trawlers seemed to be closer to the shore than the distant horizon. Although the skies were dull greys rather than the bright blues of summer, we could see as far as the towers at Mornington.

Yet it seemed to be a sad insight into the inevitable reality that the days are already beginning to shorten, and sooner than we expect we will begin to notice that the evenings are beginning to close in.

Despite the grey clouds, we could see as far as Mornington(Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018; cick on images for full-screen view)

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