Wednesday 17 January 2018

Diary: Leaving the past behind is often easier said than done

Walking the empty beaches brings back memories of all the paths taken and stumbled along, but it's time to have 'cop on' as my grandmother would say

The strand at Youghal, Co Cork Picture: Getty
The strand at Youghal, Co Cork Picture: Getty

Fergal Keane

It took one walk across Whiting Bay to neutralise the effects of the Burma jet lag. There was nobody else but myself and the two girls, my teenage daughter and her cousin, and they imagined themselves the discoverers of a new world, setting the first footprints where the spring tides had swept all before them. Under the cliffs there were scraps of fishing nets, the bleached skeleton of a small tree, mound upon mound of decaying seaweed, and more memories than I knew what to do with.

The girls sat to watch the sunset. I walked on to where the bay curves around to Mangan's Cove and eventually you arrive at Caliso Bay and you head up onto Murphy's Rock, to the mouth of the River Blackwater.

Random images flared: the day walking here when we saw the grey seal following our progress, dipping under the waves and reappearing every few minutes; the day of a big spring tide, sometime in the early 1980s, when I fished alone for bass and was surprised instead by a sea trout, silver and white and speckled with black spots; a night with a bonfire and songs on the last day of the summer holidays, eking out the last seconds of the season of freedom. Decades swirled with every step.

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