Islands of my Dreams


Is it only me or does everyone see the land mass nearest them as the first island they looked out at as a child?
When I look out at Howth, I see Cape Clear. When I look at Clare island off Luisburgh, I see Cape Clear.
I think the shape of these land masses is similar. Ridges left after the glaciers slid their way through valleys to eventually melt into the sea.

Their height is similar – not a very scientific observation but it gives me more to go on than nostalgia for my faulty perception.
Or is it just wishful thinking- to be back in those days when your horizon was bordered Cape Clear, when the day was regulated by high tide so we could jump off Colla Pier.
The walk past Hannah Fleury’s house, its perennial garden laden with scent , where her gorgeous golden retriever would curl on her back, beseeching us to rub her belly where her nipples felt velvety and nubbly under our fingers.
We would pick up a swarm of files there that would pester us for a few fields. Our towels would round our heads, we must have looked like a small group of nomadic berbers, tans and freckles and sunburnt, instead of the mahogany skin of the desert inhabitants.
We loitered at the pier, in fact we loitered everywhere. I cant think of a single other thing we did. We cycled, speeding down the 30’ gradient up at Caherlaska,, and freewheeling up the other side, seeing how far we could go without pedalling.
We would later cut those hills out and dump our bikes in the heather and go across the springy turf and jump goat like over the rocks until we reached the holiday bungalow.
Never going straight in to the house, but instead climbing directly on to the asphalt roof of the garage and in to the attic space, almost entirely filled with a table tennis table made of plywood and hung around with sheep skins drying on the rafters.
The smell of those pelts is with me today, an acrid, earthy type of odour, inhaled deeply by us with whatever other dust and particles were in that roof space as we sped around the table, becoming more accurate every day with our serves and volleys.
Dinner was almost invariably fresh mackerel cooked whole, with four scores across the sides and grilled or fried with butter.
Served with liberal lemon juice and potatoes, we left the house as soon as possible after dessert, squeezing every last minute out of the long evenings with the stunning sunsets lasting any time up to 11.30.
Maybe that is why I always think of Cape clear when I look out at the horizon from Dun Laoghaire. We were kings of our world for those few uncompromisingly lived weeks where natures backdrop knows no half measures.

Ahakista memorial to Air India disaster

To stand at the edge of the sea and look out between the mountains framing each side of Bantry peninsula feels like gazing towards eternity.

The sundial faces permanently in this direction reaching out to the victims who were never found when their plane was blown out of the sky in the Atlantic Sea.

It contemplates what none of us can understand. It offers words attempting to express the inexpressible.

Time flies. Suns rise and shadows fall. Love reigns forever overall



The Beekeeper’s Pupil – a book review.

James communion May 2015 096

Its rare to get the opportunity to laze in the sun and read for hours on end.Today I ended up sitting in the back garden in the unexpectedly warm sun, reading and even finishing a book I started last week.The onset of a nasty sore throat led to my being unable to do anything else. Having spent the week flitting from one sort of media to another, it was a pleasure to savour the joys of reading a really good book. Your mind becomes completely involved in the story. The theme, that of discovering the secret of how bees function lent itself to an absorbtion and contentment. The author’s skill in linking the story to the events in France at the time – the French revolution- gave it a context. The narrator’s life story gave it a framework and meaning.

The methodical way in which the narrator carried out scientific experiments, being the eyes of his blind master, resonated with the way the bees went about their work. The massacre of people by gulliotine in the French Revolution had its parallel in the massacre of drones by the worker bees in order to save the hive.

I had never heard of Sara George, the author. before – on googling her I find she has written a diary of Mrs Pepys. which has received mixed reviews.

It was one of those pet Autumn days when it felt wrong to be indoors. It took a sore throat for me to regain a pleasure which I took for granted as a child!