There is nowhere quite like the West of Ireland. My first morning walk of the year along Doughmore Beach in Doonbeg Co. Clare left me wondering where the rest of the world was. About a mile and a half of beach stretched in front of me and I could count on two hands the number of others on the sand with me. A couple of surfers were out in the water but despite sunshine and that it was Saturday, I had the place practically to myself.
And then I saw the jellyfish. Hundreds of them. Everywhere. I remembered as a child trying not to walk on the cracks of the pavement – bad luck. Well, it was a little like that, trying not to squish a fish. Last time I was in Malta, a chap with the interesting Maltese name of ‘Jesmond’, mentioned raw tomato as a cure for a jellyfish sting; sadly, I didn’t have a tomato in my bag and wasn’t all that pushed to check the veracity of his cure.
But it’s not just the jellyfish. The riptides off Doughmore make it a very dangerous place to surf, let alone swim. I chanced upon a surfers forum that makes for interesting reading if you have the time. As one old guy put it: Safety should be practised by the individual, not coming up with nanny state, half baked nonsense. You are either capable of getting out there surfing or you are not. No amount of ‘rescue bases’ are going to save you if you have no place out there in the sea. Now this gem of wisdom could be applied to just about everything we do these days.
Doughmore Beach is overlooked by the magnificant Doonbeg golf course – a links course designed by Greg Norman. What a fantastic backdrop for golfers frustrated by the vagaries only a links course can offer. At €185 for a round of weekend golf, I’d want to be at the height of my game just to try it. I still have vivid memories of a round of golf at Baltray (another famous links course) many many many years ago and the frusration felt by my virgin-links partner as he emptied his bag of balls and watch his single-digit handicap being castrated.
Just 24 hours in Clare and I’m even more determined to live here. Just a small place within hearing distance of the sea would do me nicely. And if it’s near Doughmore Beach, with just the jellyfish for company, so much the better.