Sexy and Dreamy. Ireland?
These are not the words I would put together to describe a trip to Ireland. Sure having that lilt fill your ears over a pint can be sexy as hell and make you reconsider all sorts of decisions about boundaries; but dreamy and sexy as a means to describe a trip the Emerald Island? I’m not so sure. Caitie has definitely gone barking at the dogs mad and quite honestly, I’m completely jealous. As I sit in the heat of a Texas summer she’s flitting down lovely roads, whisking past poetic castles and gardens, dramatic cliffs, and veritable greens of all varieties, shades, and tones. She’s in Ireland and I’m not, and that is annoying regardless how much I’m pleased she’s having fun.
So what’s she on about? Can a country be described as sexy and dreamy? I fear her Irishman may be co-opting her ability with words but let’s explore. What could possibly be sexy and dreamy about the lovely Eire.
She’s in County Clare midway along the Wild Atlantic Way. Clare is the county Ptolemy wrote about in 100 A.D. but has an even more ancient history showcasing the Poulnabrone which has perched for 5,800 years. Added to that, there is no end to its natural beauty. The Burren is filled with 70% of the flora and fauna brought to Ireland by the glaciers in the last Ice Age. Ireland.com says “Ireland is so much more than 40 shades of green – and nowhere are its many hues more celebrated than in Country Clare’s limestone paradise on the Wild Atlantic Way.” Maybe it’s the shades and tones of the colour green, beautiful to be sure, but I’m still not buying the sexy and dreamy.
Today she and the Irishman headed out. Her pictures showed her drinking in the staggering beauty of the Cliffs of Moher (Aillte an Mhothair) on the Wild Atlantic Way in western Ireland. They drove out the 350 from Ennis to a place he chose for a picnic and poetic vistas. They skipped past the award winning Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience built to educate visitors on the geology, history, flora and fauna of the cliffs and carried on to a location only they know. I’ve no idea where they parked the car and stepped out to walk towards the cliffs edge but I know they picnicked near the edge, the wind whipping her red hair. A late afternoon picnic on the Cliffs of Moher 702 feet above the crashing waves. Most likely the Irishman provided some wine and poetry to complete the afternoon.
Lahinch is a seemingly understated seaside village, population 638 (2016 census). But, surprise, Lahinch is a surf town. Yes, a surf town in Ireland with it’s own surf school and shop. (http://www.lahinchsurfshop.com) . Grab your board and get in the water. There are left waves, right waves, and beach waves – beginners and old enthusiasts crawl on their boards to catch a ride on an Irish wave. There is such a thing as an Irish Surfer dude, all told there are twenty-one different spots to catch a wave in Ireland.
But Lahinch isn’t just any old surf town to take a surf lesson. Here in Lahinch you might just learn from a legend. What would it be like to learn to surf from a man who rode the wave left behind when seven gods lept into the afterlife in protest to St. Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland? A wave so consistently perfect and fearsome she has a name – Aileen.
When the magic of Ireland is fitted with mischief and the conditions just right she arrives. Aileen sits about 2 miles off shore and can produce waves as tall as 40 ft with barrels dropping 400 tons at the lip. This is an Irish Giant. One of those giant waves with a name which brings fear even to the best surfers. Names like Teahupo’o (Tahiti) and Pe’ahi (Maui). In 2005 John McCarthy, former Irish Surf Champion and owner of the Lahinch surf shop, became the first person to ride Aileen. In an interview he said, “The wave itself is one of the most terrifying waves in the world that you’ll see…. your initial feeling is just absolute fear…”.
There are many consistently solid waves from Mullaghmore to Inch to enjoy but catching a glimpse of Aileen would certainly be special. But learning to surf from a man who has taken on a wave created by the gods…
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