07 October 2011

Inspired by the sea on the ‘Gold Coast’ of Co Meath

A glimpse of a rainbow on the beach at Bettystown, Co Meath, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

After leading chapel worship in the style of Quaker worship this morning and breakfast with a small group of students and staff members, I spent much of the morning in my GP’s waiting room, waiting for my monthly B12 injection and a brief consultation about how I am coping with the symptoms of sarcoidosis.

Morning had now turned to afternoon, and it would have been a pity to waste the bright sunshine and the blue skies, with only a small, light amount of white clouds.

And so two of us decided drive 50 km north of Dublin to spend the afternoon on the “Gold Coast” of Co Meath, where Mornington, Bettystown and Laytown share a three-kilometre stretch of beach that makes up 40% of the county’s short coastline.

We drove first to Mornington and the mouth of the River Boyne as it flows east from Drogheda out to the Irish Sea. Across the sand dunes and the waste patches of land, where local residents were taking their dogs for walks, we could see in near distance the Maiden Tower and the Lady’s Finger, twin towers that date back to the late 16th century, when they were built as navigational aids for ships entering the Boyne.

For one tender moment there was an expansive view that stretched from the Mourne Mountains on the south coast of Co Down to Balbriggan on the Fingal coast of north Co Dublin. But rain was threatening, the clouds had turned to grey, and we drove south back past the golf course to Bettystown for lunch in Relish, where we had a table looking out onto the lengthy, broad stretch of sand.

Relish, with its enviable and unrivalled views, is in a terrace of houses dating from the mid-19th century, and this particular house is said to have been the home of a sea captain named Lyons.

Looking out to the Irish Sea from the terrace at Relish, Bettystown, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

After a delightful meal, we walked out onto the terrace on the dunes above that generous stretch of beach. The tide was out, and even in the autumn lights the sea was a variety of blues, with one lone sailing boat on the horizon and a boat plying its way towards the mouth of the Boyne.

With Laytown behind us, and the Mournes to the north, we strolled along the silver and golden sand, with ripples of sand and pools of water beneath our feet, and shards of a double rainbow visible first to the north over Mornington and then to the east, dropping into the sea.

We strolled aimlessly until droplets of rain began to fall and the temperatures dropped too.

Linda Brunker’s ‘Voyager’ looks onto the beach at Laytown, Co Meath, and out to the Irish Sea (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

But we still had one more stopping point along the coast. Above the beach at Laytown, I stopped to photograph Linda Brunker’s Voyager, commissioned by Meath County Council and unveiled in 2004. The stunning, 6-ft bronze figure, matches Jarlath Daly’s sculpture, Flying a Kite, in Bettystown, and was inspired by the ocean and all that is in it, according to the artist.

Linda Brunker is based in Rathoath, Co Meath, and has designed pieces for the public park at Laguna Beach, California. She says the ocean has inspired her all her life and that she was delighted to have been commissioned by the county council to design her Voyager.

“Over the past few years I made a series of sculptures that have been inspired by the ocean,” she told the Drogheda Independent some years ago. “I have always come to the beach at Laytown to collect elements to incorporate into these works. These include shells, seaweed and other items.”

There were a few more items to collect, and then it was home. Well, I do have to be up early in the morning to watch an important rugby match.

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