Sunday 22 October 2017

Restoring virility in sea

A walker beside the narrow chasm that separates Illandavuck from Erris Head. Photo: Gareth McCormack, from Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way – A Walking Guide by Helen Fairbairn (The Collins Press, 2016)
A walker beside the narrow chasm that separates Illandavuck from Erris Head. Photo: Gareth McCormack, from Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way – A Walking Guide by Helen Fairbairn (The Collins Press, 2016)
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - In Irish mythology, Fionn mac Cumhaill and Na Fianna were accustomed to taking a long, invigorating swim in the wild Atlantic waves on summer solstice, the day when the sun god was closest to Ireland. On that day, Manannan mac Lir, the god of the sea, lavished his bounty of minerals, iodines and nutrients on those who swam in the Atlantic Ocean, thereby bestowing on them the virility of youth, which they needed in battle. Many of Na Fianna died far too young but Oisin, son of Fionn, did reach Tir na nOg where he spent 300 years with the beautiful Niamh Chinn Or.

It's a charming story probably based more on myth than fact. Still, I have to admit that I enjoy a long, refreshing swim in the sea on June 21 each year in the hope that some of that youthful vigour is still floating around. So far, I've been out of luck.

Summer solstice falls this Wednesday and is the longest day of the year. To be meteorologically accurate, summer solstice is the day with the greatest amount of daylight - more than 17 hours. The next three months leading up to mid-September is the period when nature is most active. The trees are in full foliage, plants and shrubs are blooming, hay and silage is being saved and the Wild Atlantic Way is at its magnificent best.

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