The Red Strand

“This place is bitter sweet. The beauty of it alone is something to behold. Add the memories that were created here and it becomes truly special. Happy memories, good memories, but also sad ones”



Today I visited one of my favourite places. My best friend and I hit the road despite the wind and rain. During the journey I questioned the logic of the two hour round trip when there was little chance of us even being able to get out of the car.

When we arrived at our destination I could see sand being carried up the beach and over the wall out on to the road by the wind. My windscreen wipers were hard at work, though I wasn’t quite sure wether it was drizzle or spray from the sea.

A camper van was the only other vehicle present, its occupants enjoying the view of the atlantic from within. I felt the car shake from the wind before I decided upon getting out. Shag it, we’ve come all this way, we might as well get out for a few minutes at least.

I offered my travelling companion some water after the journey, he declined. I picked him up and carried him onto the beach. I made sure we were a good distance from the road before putting him down on the sand. He seemed a bit taken aback by the strength of the wind but appeared to be revelling in the novelty of it all. He was here too last weekend, which was his first time on a beach. He pranced and ran and wagged his tail, looking at me in an effort to get me to chase him or throw a stone for him to retrieve. I chose the latter option.

I took a few photos and videos with my phone, uploaded one or two to snapchat. That seems kind of strange to me, using modern technology while in the rugged, wild beauty of the countryside. It somehow feels at odds with the reason I came here. One way to ensure you are not enjoying the scenery is to bury your face in a smart phone. I knew others would enjoy seeing the photos though, and I knew I would be happy to look back on them some day. But once I had the photos taken I put the phone away and continued throwing stones for my little buddy to fetch.

The wind was so strong that the stones wouldn’t travel that far as I walked towards the western side of the beach, and they would go so far when heading in the opposite direction that the dog would lose sight of where they landed. As I paced up and down I thought about the people who had shared this magical place with me down through the years. People who meant the world to me, but were no longer of this world, people who were still here but whose paths had taken them on a different trajectory to my own. I thought about the first time I brought my Fiancee to this place, and the handful of times she has accompanied me there since. I remembered another four legged friend, my grandfather’s nick-namesake, who passed a longtime ago and who I could’t remember being here with, but I reasoned that he must have been at some stage.

More recent memories came to mind as well. I thought about my training sessions here with my dad before I competed in a triathlon. I was way slower than him then, but I hammered him less than a year later, I doubt I could beat him now. Cherished time off from work spent here, regrets that there were times when I hadn’t visited in ages. Sad thinking about my grandparents, I could see my grandmother sitting on the wall as plain as ever, though this time she wasn’t really there, at least not physically anyway. I thought about the pub nearby where my grandfather, father and I used to go when I was small, where I had the pleasure of actually sharing a real pint with them when I had come of age. I was lucky I had my grandparents for so long.

This place is bitter sweet. The beauty of it alone is something to behold. Add the memories that were created here and it becomes truly special. Happy memories, good memories, but also sad ones because some of the people you’ve shared them with are gone. This is where I feel closest to those people. I think about them everyday, but here in this place it’s as though they are with me.

The wind battered me and the smell of the ocean filled my nostrils. The damp air is familiar to me, almost comforting. I have to give chase to my little friend who has decided to pick up some seaweed and run off with it, and I am happy that I can share today with him. I can only hope there will be plenty more good memories created in this place.


Padraig Martin