Monday, 21 March 2016


Storm Jake heading towards Angel's mobile home on a clifftop...

As I sped down the M18 I wondered for a moment about the bizarre nature of friendship. It’d take me over four hours to drive to Angel’s mobile home, perched on a clifftop in distant Co. Kerry. 

On the way I’d pass thousands of people in hundreds of homes. How many of them might I share a brilliant evening with, were I to walk into their homes and convince them I wasn't a dangerous psycho?

Instead I aimed for a unique individual in The Kingdom, where I spent 12 wonderful hours, drinking endless cups of tea whilst talking bollocks with my excellent friend.

Outside Angel’s window the sky turned purple over the Atlantic Ocean. Storm Jake was coming in, and it felt good to be warm and cosy inside, briquettes glowing in the stove, as the maelstrom built.

Around 1am we called it a night. He drew the curtains and pulled out his zed-bed for me. I put in earplugs, but although the noise of the wind and rain disappeared, I felt the sheer power of the storm as it pummelled the mobile, my bed rattling and shaking, as if I was on a ride at Disneyland.

Sleep came eventually, but as I lay awake I made sure to enjoy the might of nature, as well as the thrill of being on yet another Blue Bag adventure.

The next morning I had to face that most profound of questions: to Tarbert or not to Tarbert?

Normally I’d jump at the opportunity to take the ferry across the Shannon to Co. Clare, but even though I needed to be in Lehinch that afternoon, I decided to drive the long way round.

Just wasn’t the weather for boats of any kind.

Stopping off at a garage in Dingle for supplies, I approached a young lad in an official-looking T-shirt.

“Do you work here?”

“Well I wouldn’t say I work here, but I am employed here.”

I chuckled, admiring his brazen wit.

“Okay, fair enough. Is there a loo somewhere I could use?”

“Yes there is. It's out front, then round the back, past the butcher’s shop. Don't go in the wrong door now, as he has a sharp knife and a mean way with sausages.”

The smile he created was still on my face many miles further down the road, when Jake suddenly punched a gust broadside at my car that had the wheels off the road, leaving me with white knuckles gripping the steering wheel, my heart racing.

A few hours later, the day’s business done, I find myself free for an evening in Lehinch. First stop has to be the small town’s fabulous beach, which I’m delighted to see has been rescued and restored after that winter of 12 great storms, when this little town made national TV news.

There’s no question of whether the view takes my breath away, as the power of the wind makes me gasp for air. 

The scene before me is beyond splendid. A quarter mile of spent ocean form a tumultuous white carpet, crashing on the shore and sea bed as the tide pulls out. 

Beyond, further out to sea, waves are whiplashed upright by the offshore storm, becoming twenty foot high serpents of spume, with arching bodies and fizzing necks.

As the early evening sun drops low on the horizon, disappearing under a towering shower cloud, the wind begins once more to gust to storm force (if you live here you'll also be familiar with the unique sound Storm Force 10 makes) so I decide not to walk along the water’s edge. I’ll appreciate the view from the safety of these steps.

My mind blasted by negative ions from ripped up air, I'm not impelled to compose a symphony, yet I am inspired. My fingertips freeze as I stand here taking these notes, all the time very aware that to the other brave souls here facing nature unleashed, it looks like I'm texting and completely missing the point.

Nothing could be further from the truth. 
I'm so in love with what I’m seeing and experiencing, I feel need to share it.

As dusk’s darkness gathers, the ruins across the bay in Liscannor strut their sharp silhouettes into the view. The sideways rain shower cuts through my flesh like shards of ice, so I turn away and wander into town, deciding tonight is the perfect opportunity to play Pub Russian Roulette, a game which involves entering a bar without looking in the window or at the signage.

Oh my god this place is perfect. As the Guinness is placed in front of me by a friendly barmaid, I’m already talking to others in the place, intelligent and witty souls of my own age.

A little like a holiday romance, I fall in love and want this pub to be my new Local.

I’ve always liked Lehinch out of season. The West Clare town has oodles of character (and characters), along with cleverly-marketed pubs that each offer something slightly different, yet all another friendly greeting.

The evening proceeds in such a way this scribbler might only dream of. I find the best pub to eat in and enjoy excellent cod and chips, another in which to watch a little footie and another where I find a young local lad with an urgent need to talk politics. With him conversation suddenly becomes real debate, which I enjoy with whiskey and relish. 

Then I stumble into the Chinese takeaway for a Spring Roll, which I consume on the street, looking affectionately upon this place.

I know I’d hate it here in the Summer, when touristic hordes take over, but without those months there could be no quiet evenings like this, when it feels just like me and the locals.

This romance involves no disloyalty to Galway. I'm just a blow-in who loves the entire West of Ireland.

© Charlie Adley

No comments: