Irish Beach Holidays:
Irish Beach Holidays are the bedrock of childhood memories. Beach holidays were always more of a rite of passage than a time of hedonistic indulgence. Happy but hypothermic was the motto. We all remember them. The family trip down to Brittas Bay on a summers day in the 1980s (or 1990s for our youthful readers). With the optimism of Elpis we set the compass for South and set off in the car. The Renault 4 was packed with hampers crammed with peanut butter sandwiches, rice krispie cakes and Tayto crisps. A cricket bat, wickets and an Aerobie offered the land based entertainment for the foray. Time in the commute down was filled with sibling bickering whilst the lingering whiff of your sisters car sick expulsion filled the nostrils.
After 14 toilet stops and 3 bouts of leg cramp we arrive. On your marks, get set, go…we race through the well trodden sand trails and over the dunes. Magnificence awaits. Let’s never doubt the raw natural beauty of Ireland’s beaches. They are jewels etched in our weather battered coastline. The sand is golden and the 4km stretch seems to be an an endless palette. It that can be moulded and remoulded through a child’s imagination. A canvas for creativity. Most often though, and perhaps the default sculptural endeavour is a Damien Hirst type conceptual piece! Older siblings pushing the boundaries of gender identity as a younger brother is buried neck deep in a sandy torture tomb. Breathing is limted and only through his nostrils as remaining relatives mould a buxom bosom from sand on his chest.
Mother and father stay relatively sedentary throughout the coastal sojourn and remain hunched under a rainbowed wind break protecting them from prevailing Westerly wind. Sun cream is applied in a thick lather and drips into the iris in stinging beads. Mills and Boons light reading for mum and a 13th century Tibetan Buddhist monks hard back supplies the brain feed for dad. Both, however, lay the books to rest for the most sacrosanct moment of the entire trip, the rebirth, the plunge into the snot green sea.
In a Monroe type moment the wind lifts my sisters beach towel as we attempt to don our bathing suits in a force 5 gale. I, for one, sported a very modest pair of mustard yellow budgie smugglers with a disney duck branding the nether regions as the brotherly sprint to the waters edge ensued. My bony body with less flesh than a vultured carcass moving into spasm from knee and then to hip. I wade through the white froth and oncoming salty waves.
Finally, I’m under. My breath, my heart, my entire being pauses momentarily. My core temperature plummets and the full impact of the biting cold seizes my puny limbs. It was at this moment that my addiction was born and the catharsis of the ocean revealed itself. Now Jimi was right when he said that castles made of sand melt into the sea. Memory fades but, for those of who spent their youth in caravan parks and windswept coast on Irish beach holidays, the spirit forged there is indelible and etched in stone.
€9.99 to Europe:
Undeniably, of course, times of changed. No longer are we limited to Irish shores or do we have to fork out 300 punt for a flight to England. Travel is freed from the elite and we hop across Europe on €9.99 Ryanair flights. The June exodus to Brittas has now been replaced by cocktails on Playa de la