Posted by: Louise | August 29, 2012


There is a place I come to that makes my soul soar. I wonder if I lived here would my soul soar every day?

K is four weeks away from completing his MA thesis. We moved back in to our house three and a half weeks ago after moving out for major renovations. Our house is a sea of cardboard boxes, an endless tide of them. I was beginning to see this tide ebb when K reminded me that half our belongings are still in a lock up unit untouched.

So the kids and I have come down west with some friends for a fortnight to regroup and give K some space to write before school starts and work starts and everything begins all over again.

I have always felt alive in this place. We came here every summer for years. Time bends and loops here with the wind that blows in off the sea. I am nine, twelve, sixteen, twenty-two. I am a mother watching my children exhilarate in the same landscape with its small coves and beaches and rock pools and heathy coastal walks that make my childhood memories. I am ancient. I am a child.

This year we have travelled here with another family so have travelled further out the coast. We are staying on a road that only a few kilometres further on brings you to the most south westerly point in Ireland and then… the sea.

We are on the brink – the very edge of Ireland.

The beach here isn’t small and enclosed. It is an open expanse of shifting sand dunes, unstable cliffs and crashing waves. Rip currents hide beneath the waves and lifeguards standing alert and watchful now run vigilantly up and down the sands, making me wonder, “what do they know about these waters?” instilling chilling mother fear deep down in my bones. The kids delight in the ever-crashing waves.

I feel an edginess here that I struggle to put my finger on.

We’ve had a bad summer this year. I have determined not to complain about the weather, not to give in to its incessant let down. We have dropped everything on more than one occasion to seize a moment of elusive sunshine and go to the beach. But the weather is bad. It is cold and it is wet, really really wet. And now it is three days to the end of the summer holidays and autumn is coming and I haven’t felt held by the comforting warmth of summer. And I want to complain.

Is it the weather?

The Giraffe Princess is eleven going on fifteen. Hormones overwhelm her, pull her down into their current and return her to me unrecognisable. She is my child. We fight. Word wars over nothing. She is my beautiful child, sullen and lethargic pulling us all down in her wake.

Can I sit on your knee, Mum? She is my child, my beautiful child.

Astro Boy has been talking philosophy with his Dad. His Dad tells him you can never get half way to anywhere because as you approach half way it is no longer the half way point between where you are and where you are going.

You know Mum there is no centre to anything, because the centre is always moving around.

You know AB there is no definite edge to anything either. Everything is always moving at the edge.

And here we are at the edge of Ireland with the shifting sands and the heaving seas and the unstable cliffs and the wind.

I am drawn back in along the coast to my little coves and rock pools. There is comfort in those little places. Gentle landscape. Gentle, wild and rugged.

I love body boarding on the waves on the big beach, Little Boy Racer says. They make you go REALLY fast.

Waves lap in my little cove. Gentle lapping waves. There is no speed. This place is almost timeless. I am eight, splashing in rock pools with my frilly pink bikini, fifteen, jumping in the sea with my friends. I am twenty-two, returning to the beach with college friends. I am lying on the beach heavily pregnant with Laura. I am here now watching as my children excavate one corner of the beach into an elaborate fort.

Can a landscape hold you?

The word “nestled” keeps surfacing as I talk. I would love a house on this peninsula. That childhood dream has never gone away. The holiday house we stay in now landed in this place, high on a hill, raw ground around it. It isn’t nestled into the landscape. My house (my little dream) would be nestled. More than anything it would be nestled.

The land would hold it to itself.

Land can hold you to itself. I talk to my friend. She loves the raw wildness. I want to be held.

It has been a busy year. I graduated and work has taken on a new momentum. K took to the books with a passion and we have lost him temporarily to his philosophical landscape. Soon, hopefully, we will have him back. We moved out of home. The builders moved in. The builders moved out. We moved back in. The kids keep growing and changing and adding to their activities and needs. Our home is different in so very many ways.

Movement. Edges. Change.

In this place (this pause) I can see all that. The closing gap between summer and everything starting all over again – starting – continuing – and suddenly it is Hallowe’en/Christmas and was there ever summer?

And maybe that is it. The edginess is just that – the edge of change and the sand is shifting under my feet and really I just want to be held …for a moment …in this place.

In the background Astro Boy has begun singing a song he made up, in a booming operatic boy voice. He has been singing it on and off for weeks…

Gravitational forces.
Gravitational forces.
Gravitational forces.


  1. I feel an edginess here that I struggle to put my finger on.


    “…suddenly it is Hallowe’en/Christmas and was there ever summer?”

    Evocative – your coastline post. I feel nostalgic for this place I have never been, thanks to you…

    Swimming in your words,


  2. I’ve been thinking about this post a lot since I first read it. To the extent that ‘gravitational forces’ has been ringing in my ears!

    Although I’ve never met them, I do love your children. They sound so endlessly interesting. GP – eleven is tough, I remember it well. AB – you are cleverer than me.

    My husband’s family are from Northern Ireland and we have friends in Belfast so we tend to visit that coast more than the south. But oh it looks so very beautiful. Where we stayed in Ireland, in a remote derelict cottage, there were blow holes coming up through the cliffs and the waves sprayed out of them.

    I love the thought of the nestling. It’s hard to feel nestled where I am, in the suburban South East. Perhaps in the cathedrals? Or not?

    Enduring the bad summer with you – I have not done one half of what I had intended.

    And I’m just glad to see you back again. Edging along across the sea.

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