It is between 8am and 9am, very early by Kilkee standards. Sleep would appear to be the order of the day. Even the well laid-out houses, as viewed from my vantage point over by the boathouse, look eloquent in their sombre state. In my mind’s eye, I imagine each and every dwelling displaying a sign outside saying, ‘Do not disturb’.
The only sound I am conscious of is that of the rivulets lazily lapping their aquatic way towards the golden, undisturbed sandy beach. One or two barefoot people skirt the water’s edge, rounding that famous tranquil horseshoe-shaped beach. Two white West Highland terriers frolic freely close by. This is their time to enjoy a short period of joyous liberation, as curfew will be set in place at 11am.
Black crows and gulls have arrived just now, as they screech in their frantic, hungry way, in search of a morsel of food. Their sound, it seems, is an intricate part of this old seaside town. Here I am reminded of a poem that made quite an impression on me during my school years and has remained a favourite of mine ever since. It is entitled, Upon Westminster Bridge, a sonnet by William Wordsworth.
Earth hath not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
A few boats bob lazily on their secure aquatic beds, creating a captive and tempting scene for the passing artist.
Across on the West End, the four striking white rectangular-shaped patches seem alert this morning, having received a new coat of paint in recent weeks. A rackets competition took place there on Saturday last and Richard Harris, who succeeded in winning that feat three times in a row, springs to mind. Three brave souls avail of an early morning dip by the slipway, within view of the boathouse.
I promise myself to pay my customary visit to the Pollock Holes later today, where I am sure to avoid the influx of jellyfish that seem to have succeeded in invading the sea waters that engulf the strand this summer. With pure fresh water filling the Pollock Holes three times daily, one is guaranteed freedom from such possible dangers.
What was once known as the Thomond Hotel for several years, and which is now set out into separate apartments, stands somewhat lonely. Because of the flood that engulfed the environs of Kilkee earlier this year, an amount of damage has occurred to the Strand Wall and to the road surface directly outside that most attractive building.
Behind me now, yet another sound encroaches upon the silence, that of the clink-clink of glass, as one person disposes of various receptacles at the recycling depot.
It is almost 10am now and still very little sign of life, except for two men who have taken to the sea, well-equipped to spend an hour or more in the magnificent exercise of water-skiing. It is quite exhilarating just to observe the ease with which they appear to interact with the sea beneath them.
The sun beams out from a clear blue motionless sky, and as yet there is very little sign of life. Yet a few more people avail of the pre-curfew deadline, to exercise their beloved canine friends on that wide expansive beach.
Over in the distance, I observe a group of youngsters as they don their black wetsuits in preparation for a few hours of water activities. Following an amount of instructions on the part of a well qualified guides, they eventually take to their individual canoes and, oh, how they love it!
In spite of all that activity, however, the sleepy town of Kilkee has yet to fully awake to the day that dawned all of four or five hours ago. The opening lines of a song I have always loved spring to mind: “All is quiet, all is peaceful, evening in Mt Mellery.”
Well, as the clock creeps up to 11am, it seems that “all is quiet, all is peaceful morning in this adorable old seaside town of Kilkee.”
I think I’ll now take a brisk walk on that tempting golden sand.
By Maureen Sparling