Repetitions of Desire ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 278

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford
Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

I was out at Garrarus Beach very early this morning to catch up on my birthday swim which was impossible yesterday because of the storm. There was a lovely sense of calm and cleansing and the seaweed was beautifully autumnal and shapely. All day since, I’ve been thinking of this poem:


As it leaves

the sea inscribes

the sand

with a zen riddle

written in Japanese

characters of seaweed.


the white selves

of seagulls

mesh in repetitions

of desire

(John O’Donohue, from Echoes of Memory)

Fire and Water ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 274

It’s been a week of blissful sunsets here in Co. Waterford. Yesterday evening Garrarus Beach was surreal. As I ran into the calm sea, there was an deep sense of being at one with those powerful elements of nature ~ fire and water. The colours had me thinking of the sea in very feminine terms, clad in fine blue denim and a translucent pink blouse that only nature could produce.

We were three, a photographer, a fisherman and me ~ all appreciating the wonder that was ours through separate but shared eyes.

As I was departing to return to reality, I asked the photographer, who transpired to be a man whose work I have long admired,  if he would send me a copy of what he had captured. So, this is the image that Damien Jackson kindly sent:

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford. Photo: Damien Jackson
Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford.
Photo: Damien Jackson

Co. Waterford ABC ~ G is for Garrarus Beach

Co. Waterford ABC is a feature here on Social Bridge where I am identifying myhighlights of  this diverse county in Ireland where I was born and which hasbeen ‘home’ for the last 26 years. There will be just 26 posts ~ one for each letterof the alphabet and I hope you will join me in discussing your views about theplaces, people,  events, things that I select. Would you have chosen differently?In a county with such natural beauty and diversity in terms of history andheritage, one could quite easily identify 26+  highlights for each letter! 

See all previous posts in this series

Map of Co. Waterford (Garrarus Beach in Red. Click Map to Zoom)
Map of Co. Waterford
(Garrarus Beach in Red. Click Map to Zoom)

Garrarus Beach  is my absolute heartfelt choice over lots of other very strongcontenders for this spot in the Co. Waterford ABC series.  It is a place that arguably knows me better than I know myself as I spend so much time there.

Garrarus is an incredibly beautiful and unspoilt beach about three miles from  Tramore. It is a place that captures the soul with its Atlantic ruggednessnatural ‘bathing boxes,’ clear waters,  stunning views of the coastline down to Mine Head, sloping cliffs and perhaps, more than anything,  a community ofpeople who appreciate it and understand the meaning of  ‘being at one withnature.’

I’ve always loved the road down to Garrarus with its high hedgerows, perennial honeysuckle and rambling pink roses. I was asked by a woman in Washington DC a few years back if Ireland really had places where there was a combination of sea, red roses and views of the mountains and my mind instantly flew to the road down to Garrarus.  It’s a road on which I’ve come to know some of the locals, including a man who walks his  faithful dog every day and welcomes me with a big smile and a friendly wave of his walking stick.

Garrarus is a swimmer’s paradise and a group of people swim there all year round.  It also attracts  kayaking enthusiasts who explore the host of sea arches and caves in the area.

For me, Garrarus is a place where I swim practically every day of the year. It is also  a place where I spent endless hours with our son as he was growing up, especially when he was in Treasure Island mode.  It’s the place about which I has my first poem published and it always seems to be my magnet when life-changing events occur. For example, Garrarus was where the car automatically brought  me with its waves of comfort  at 5am on May 31, 2009,  just  after I heard that my mother had died.

I was told a while back that there used to be ‘tea dances’ on Summer Sundays on the cliff overlooking Garrarus Beach.  I can just imagine the picnic baskets, parasols and stolen kisses as the sun was setting in a warm, warm place that knows how to bring people together and how to keep secrets.

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Tramore’s August 15th

August 15th is a highly significant date around the world in both religious and political terms. Here in Tramore, Co. Waterford, ‘the 15th’  has long been associated with the height of the tourist season and always falls on the week of the Tramore Racing Festival. Horse-racing in Tramore has been a huge attraction for over 200 years now and draws vast crowds from all round the south-east and beyond. This is a week when the population of Tramore swells, but mainly with people whose families have been coming here for generations.

In the normal course of events, the sun is shining, the beach thronged, the Merries in full swing with people of all ages taking turns in the bumper cars, the Hall of Mirrors and even the little train that runs around the Amusement Park.  With the races due to start tomorrow, one would be likely to come across a farmer from the Midlands enjoying his annual dip in the sea and happy to share tips for likely winners over the week’s racing.

Today brought a different kind of 15th with a huge storm blowing and torrential downpours.  All appeared to be lost but after tea there was a break in the sky and Tramore came alive with people converging out along the Cliff Road, The Guillemene and Newtown to take in the magnificence of the waves.  The sense of community was palpable. This was ‘our’ place; ‘our’ Bay and we were there together standing in awe. I doubt there was a person there who didn’t wish that they could have shared that special moment with people from past generations for whom Tramore was also very special.

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Even when the rain started to fall again, and the spray was cutting into our faces, there was good humour and sheer wonderment at the vista that lay before us.

I just had to see Garrarus, which is one of my little sanctuaries about three miles on along the coast. Just at the turn down to the beach, the sky took on an orange tint and there was a hint of blue trying to blend its way through the dankness.  Just one car at Garrarus, a father with his two kids and their dog.  A sweet, sweet calm and hope that the races will go ahead with all their excitement and colour.  But I know that memories of this August 15th will linger long in the collective memory of all who felt its force in and around Tramore this evening.

Sunset at Garrarus