Sunday, 29 April 2018


The Snapper and I are heading off to Connemara next week, to enjoy a couple of days passing time without care. Little fills our souls more than discovering tiny empty beaches on the Aughrus peninsula; feeling the enormity of the ocean and landscape; visually drinking in every aquamarine tone from translucent turquoise to deep navy.

Behind one moment -  in front the next -  silhouettes of the immense and sensual Twelve Pins roll across the plain.

Along with the pleasure and peace of mind I take from it, I give thanks for being able to live in such an astonishing place.

Out there an other-worldly sense of timelessness takes over this puny human.
Out there, nearly 20 years ago, time was indeed lost.

Just back from 4 years in America, eager to see my hills and lakes once more, I hitched from the city to visit friends in Calla.

There was not a cloud in the sky, nor a whiff of breeze in the air. It was that rarest of days in the west of Ireland: a pure summer scorcher. My friend 
Susan and I walked the beach from Claddaghduff out to Omey Island, and being a nerd about tides, I noticed how the sand was still damp. The water had just left the little bay.

We had years of catching up to do, so we walked around historic and beautiful Omey. Susan reached down and gave me a small rock, many coloured, multi-seamed, with a perfectly flat top. It was a mighty sea stack, perfectly shrunken to four inches. 

“Look, see how it’s leaning forward. You’re back now, Charlie. This stone represents your return.”

“Thanks Susan. That’s what I’ll call it then: Return.”

That stone still sits on my living room mantlepiece. Tragically, Susan has passed on.

After our walk we settled down on some sun-warmed rocks to talk, to stare at the sand beneath us, to feel the heat on our cheeks.

Not everyone’s backside is as voluptuous as mine, and after a while Susan was feeling the hard rock through hers, so we wandered back to the mainland, aiming for a pint at Sweeney’s bar.

Lovely stuff, except as we crested the hill we both froze in our tracks, standing side by side for a long period of heavy breathing silence.

Below us, between the island and our pints, there swirled a full high tide of Atlantic ocean. At most we’d been two hours on Omey, probably an hour and a half. Neither of us had dozed off at any point.

Finally I made our predicament real by acknowledging it out loud.

“That’s impossible. We had at least four hours clear before the tide turned, maybe more. That’s insane!”

Susan checked her watch, turned and smiled calmly at me. Her wise older eyes had absorbed an inordinate amount of mystery throughout her extraordinary life.

“We lost time, Charlie. It’s 6:30. We walked across at 2. It happens. Some say it’s the faeries, some say it’s the universe. We just lost time.”

Resisting the temptation to tell her she was off her tiny rocker, I sat down on the grass and checked out the weather.

“Not a bad evening to sit and watch a tide turn.”

“Excuse me!” she snapped back. “Some of us have jobs to do!”

“Well what do you suggest then? Will we swim for it?”

“Now it’s you that sounds insane!”

With that she strode down the hill, yelling at the top of her very American voice to a couple of lads on the far shore.

“Heyyyy! Hayloooo-ooo! We’re trapped! Help! Heeelp! Can you guys come get us!”

Horrified at appearing the victim of something as basic as tide times, I shrunk down in the grass, pretending to be no part of it, but sure enough they rowed over, and 20 minutes later we bought them both a pint.

As we drank I prayed that Susan would not speak of matters mystical, lost time and faeries, but of course she did, and much to my relief the lads smiled sincerely.

“Ah, ye’ll have that, here, now.” one muttered, peering at the table top.

“You’ll have that.” agreed the other.

Lost time? I have no other explanation. 
As for the time I lost space, there’s a simple one.

Within a few days of arriving in Galway back in ’92, I was crammed into the noisy Snug Bar with a gang of new-found friends. Adopting the hedonistic enthusiasm of every new arrival in Galway, I drank much and speedily, and headed off to the loo, across a tiny courtyard at the back.

Having done what we do, I opened the door back into the bar, only to stumble into a quiet country pub, where older men smoked pipes and gently supped pints.

What the hell?

At first I felt frightened, desperately looking around for a friendly or even vaguely familiar face: there were none.

But but but 
but how 
and what 
and holy guacamole, Batman! This Galway place is bloody amazing! One of the lads must’ve slipped an acid tab into my drink! Clearly I had not travelled in time and space. I was just having an hallucination. 

None of this was real, so therefore it made no difference what I did.

Bewildered, bemused and mentally reduced by the influence of Guinness and whiskey, I stood in the middle of what I now know to be Garavan’s Bar and sang, acted and danced the incredible intro to Memphis Soul Stew, until a gentle hand cupped my shoulder and steered me through the front door and out onto William Street.

How was I to know the two pubs shared their toilets?

Doubtless more adventures in time and space await in Connemara. Be it whiskical or mystical, little is what it appears to be, here in the west of Ireland!

©Charlie Adley

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