Monday, 5 September 2016


Fleeing responsibility I seek mental peace; time to settle my heart and refresh my soul. 

I’m only away for 2 days, so that’s a pretty tall order. If this wee break only allows me to dip my emotional fingers into a particularly wonderful state of being, I’ll be happy.

No floatation tanks needed: just splendid isolation.

To awake to an empty day; to sniff the familiar whiff of freedom; to go to bed when tired, awake refreshed; to walk for miles.

I love people, yet need solitude to repair and recharge. As a selfish youth I repeatedly stretched and broke the boundaries of my fragile mental health. 

One morning in 1989 I found myself stumbling up Aukland’s Queen Street, wondering what the hell I was doing in New Zealand. Broke and broken hearted, paranoid without a passport, I felt as mad as a hatter and sure I’d never see Europe again.

Obsessive love had driven me temporarily insane and while it was terrifying to be crazy on the other side of the world, it was supremely liberating to know I had no plan and truly did not give a damn.

I’m a feeble human, unable to appreciate my mind’s many states of being, but I’m grateful for the experiences of madness I’ve garnered.


While her people enjoy a slumbering Sunday morning, I drive 4 hours through Ireland, to glimpse for the first time the sunny southeast, This lunchtime it turns out to be soggy and grey, with dark clouds threatening low over Waterford City.

Onwards to the edge, to the sea, where stumbling around Tramore, I’m sad to see so many bars and restaurants closed during the tourist season.

The seaside town’s hills leave me sweating into my first whiskey. Although I enjoy a pleasant evening with fine people in a good town, I’m weird and would rather be in Lehinch on a Tuesday evening in November.

Down here the smaller places seem bigger. There’s more infrastructure and it’s slightly more clipped than it feels back west. 

Here dandelions are pummelled by trucks on the roadsides while I miss the willow herb and cow parsley of our slower roads and bohreens.

Oh - and they don't Howya when you walk past them on the street. Found that out straight away, but kept on Howya-ing like a culchie anyway.


On the second morning I awake to more damp dull skies so I decide on a pootle and discover the absolutely stunning Copper Coast Drive to Dungarvan. Coves, sea stacks, ragged rocks and crashing waves divert my attention as I try to focus on the winding road, but each stopping place is filled with cars, so I drive on.

Taking tea and reading the paper in a hotel in Dungarvan, I listen to two women effing and blinding over their carvery meat and cabbage like there’s neither a tomorrow nor a God, so I head back along the same road, now under pristine blue skies.

Through map reading and pure instinct I turn off the main road, to find a perfect empty beach. A fascinating signboard explains how the layered cliffs towering above display the entire history of our planet, back to a time when South East Ireland was on a completely different continental lump to the rest of the country.


Waves and sand and pebbles and rocks. Freedom from artificial sounds.


I do what I do. Sit on a rock and look for a pebble somewhere out along the tideline.

Focus on it and see which way the tide pulls.

Will it become covered in water or high and dry?

By the time I know I’ll feel better. 

Mindfulness, meditation, call it what you want, it’s Adley’s way of recovering personal peace. I’ve been doing it for decades. Lakes can be tricky as there’s no tide, but I’ll watch a blade of grass bend in the wind instead.

Off in the distance I see what I imagine to be an Irishwoman collecting seaweed. However, as she approaches I discover that she’s English and picking up litter, after the weekenders left a terrible mess all over the glorious beach

“I know you don’t do it for thanks, but I’m glad I’m here to say thank you to you, for doing a wonderful job. Thanks!”

She smiles in return and then I’m alone again.

Thanks universe. That rock made me happy.

On the drive back to Tramore I find myself feeling sad again. There seem to be so many villages that have neither a shop nor a pub. A friend had told me that the South East might remind me of England a little. Tragically, in that particular aspect, it did.

We certainly have our problems out West (most of which stem from not being out East and copping the government funds), but compared to what I saw that day, our rural village life is pretty vibrant.

On my last evening in Tramore I finally find my pub. A youngish landlord (they all look younger these days) and a loud friendly crowd up the stairs and around the corner.

I plonk myself on a barstool in the quiet front bar and do my blanking out thing, until an Aussie bloke arrives on the barstool two down from mine. I sense his need to talk so we drift amiably into conversation.

After only a couple of minutes he explains that he’s had a few mental health issues in his time.

“Mate, that’s exactly why I’m bloody here!” I reply.
“What, because of my mental health issues?”

We laugh and then I say how wonderful it is that men have progressed as a gender, to the point when two blokes in a bar can swap mental health stories, without feeling any less testicular.

In Ireland that would have been impossible 25 years ago.

We clink our glasses

I found my beach.
I found my pub.

Whaddya know? Everyone struggles with their heads.

© Charlie Adley

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