Beach Days ~ Gatherings from Ireland #198

As Ireland basks in this heatwave to beat all heatwaves, there’s been plenty of opportunities to think about the continuities and changes associated with going to the beach for the day.

Sea, sand, shells, seaweed, swims and sun remain but there’s just so many changes since the days when I was child and that’s not a hundred years ago!

Building Sandcastles ~ Me Front Right Photo: Frank Tubridy
Building Sandcastles ~ Me Front Right
Photo: Frank Tubridy

Yesterday, I started jotting down some of the biggest changes as I sat on Garrarus Beach after my swim drinking a bottle of Ballygowan Water. I can’t remember if we even drank water at the beach back then!

People were chatting on mobile phones and checking their emails as they lay on the sand. Compare this to days of  having to ring the operator to make a call beyond the locale and the old Button A and Button B phone boxes.

Kids were racing around in wetsuits and playing on body boards. How I’d have loved a body board as a kid! Remember the days of the lilo and the endless parental warnings about how you’d be carried off beyond the horizon if you dared take it into the sea.

Cooling Off  Me in the Middle Photo: Frank Tubridy
Cooling Off
Me in the Middle
Photo: Frank Tubridy

And, yesterday as everyday now, people were taking photographs with their phones or fancy digital cameras.  We operated with box cameras and eventually Dad got his Roliflex and we had to wait ’til the film was used up and he dove into his dark room to develop the ‘catch.’ Needless to say black and white!

As I watched people arriving with instant barbecues, cool bags, even ready-to-go rolls, I thought of our picnic basket with the old reliables of the flask wrapped up in a tea towel, soggy tomato sandwiches, dry ham ones, a warm apple each and the old reliable Gateaux Swiss Roll ~ jam flavoured.

Hey and what about the transistors that eventually came on a Sunday to listen to the hurling and football championship games. Now, it’s iPods, and ear phones …..

Books were a must going to the beach in my youth. As the baby of the family, it drove me crazy when the rest of them were in their ‘ready-bones’ mode!

Relaxing in the West of Ireland. Me Back Right Photo: Frank Tubridy
Relaxing in the West of Ireland. Me Back Right
Photo: Frank Tubridy

What do you see as the biggest changes on beach days and are they for the better or worse?

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

11 thoughts on “Beach Days ~ Gatherings from Ireland #198”

  1. These are great iconic images of innocent days and natural landscapes. As a photographer in a seaside location, I have seen many things that have changed at the beach.The new colour on the horizon of wind breakers and extra large rainbow coloured parasols or pop up tents dotted along the shore line. These are a new addition to the colour of the beach landscape .

    1. Hi Sinead, great to hear from you. I agree fully about the coloured parasols and pop-up tents, especially, but I’m wondering about Red Sails in the Sunset. I know they were of a different nature than the kite-surfers etc but they were clearly there way back when …. I see the song was written in 1935!

  2. Great storytelling! The biggest difference between now and the beach days of my childhood is my reluctance to get into a bathing suit to immerse myself in ice cold water! (I make an exception for Hawaii, where the water is warm and the snorkeling is worth it). I suppose another difference is that my family could never have afforded to go anywhere where the water was actually warm, but I didn’t care in those days. Kids’ thermostats operate differently, and they can stay in the water until their lips turn blue.

    1. Naomi, thanks for writing. We certainly never left Ireland for holidays when I was a child ~ my first big adventure abroad was to Spain with my mother when I was just seventeen.
      I’m not so sure about kid’s thermostats. I think it’s an individual thing. I swim all year round here in Ireland and my son (now 18) has never taken to swimming unless the sea is boiling hot, which is very seldom indeed! However, we are just back from a swim now and he loved it.

    1. Hi RH, you’ve just reminded me of red lemonade! Have to say I’d have killed for a glass after my two swims in the lovely heat this morning.
      What do you see as beach food for the 21st century? I had a homemade smoothie with me this morning in a flask and a bottle of Ballygowan.

  3. Lovely shots as usual Jean. I can’t wait for the day you publish a collection or two. Rhyl and Blackpool I got to know well as a child. I also have a traumatic memory of dropping an ice cream on the sand at Greystones 😦 and I insisted on going back the following day to look for it 🙂

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